Well, I'm going to put a disclaimer on here. I'm afraid that not on my best day can I compete with near world record shattering gars or species seldom spotted by human kind such as a blue sucker, thats just mind boggling and my hats off to you guys!
My target was the Flathead Catfish. They have a heavy prescience and are considered invasive in Southern Pennsylvania, but to me they were a freshwater beast that I just needed to check off the lifelist. This fish has been on my immediate “to do” list for the last 3 years along with Northern Snakehead but that fish will be saved for another day…
It all started with my purchasing of Philadelphia Phillies tickets for my girlfriend for this upcoming Sunday’s game against the cubs, Philly is approximately 3 hours from my house. I concocted a last second plan (like I always do) to fish the entire Saturday before since I was going to be in the area, however as fate would have it we had a major rain event that just so happened to stop on my only day off this week other than the weekend, choosing to not make my girlfriends time with the Phillies unbearable by keeping her out fishing in the cold all night I decided Tuesday would provide ample enough opportunity.
I then called my local friend and told him of the situation, he told me he’d watch river temps and flows for me. As Monday approached I ran around like a MAD MAN looking for bait . My first stop was a local pond I knew would produce me some slab gills. So in the pouring rain, a few hours before I was due at work I did my best to pull them out of the frozen water and was rewarded modestly. I also had my friend on “bait duty”, as well as my father fishing for trout in the then raging rivers, it was a group effort that doesn't go unappreciated. I too gave a half hearted attempt at fetching trout but had to go to work. I also was fllllllllllat broke, I had to pull money from a vacation fund seeing as how I had a whopping total of 5.00$ to my name until friday...
Heres the bait I managed to gather by my lonesome..
Armed with about 25 bluegills and one trout, I snatched up my girlfriend and was philly bound, the entire ride I said it my own mind “please let this be expedition report worthy please….”. After about 3 hours and some brief but necessary delays we found the location my friend had suggested and opened up shop. We put in 8 hours of diehard fishing, we were greeted with freezing rain and wind, and when they let off, swarms of bugs, then some more freezing rain, let me tell you mother nature was not on my side (it was snowing as I left my house in the morning as well).
The go to bait was trout (as you’ll see soon). I ran into some fellow fisherman from a local forum I’m on who were hoping to fish my locale but seeing as it was very limited in space they chose to bounce. My friend then joined us at the spot and assured us that the now silent spot would surely produce a fish as the darkness approached…..and it did……
My pole started to tap, tap, tap. My friend eagerly shouted “don’t miss your chance, pick up that pole and when you feel a decent bite, swing”. And sure enough, I set the hook more perfectly than I ever set it before, thankfully not succumbing to my level of nervousness. The fish held bottom and swayed from side to side, it pulled line out of the reel as it tried to gain ground back into the raging river, but I kept him in the eddy and then it happened….The head appeared out of the murky depths and here was my lifer that I’ve been dreaming about for 3 years. The face looked up at me and I knew I was moments away from a lifer and a PB that would be mildly difficult to beat not being from the area. My friend had a bite that immediately followed but it was a much smaller juvenile.
The excitement in my eyes was extreme as I grasped the nearly 22 pound Flathead Catifish. Sure, I know what some of you are thinking 22lbs? That’s no monster, I admit, it’s not, the record for Pa is somewhere near 50 and the world is much….much bigger. However it was a lifer, a big, big lifer, that I was dreaming about the way some of you dream of the blue sucker, sure its “just a catfish”, but to me it was the end of my hunt for the 3 Major catfish of our area and man was I flying high on that ride home, as my girlfriend exclaimed how she could no longer feel her feet because of the cold, how lucky I am to date someone as diehard as they come!
Oh and heres the trout it puked up, that made my friends night. Somewhere there is a chrous of a thousand angry trout fisherman with their fancy trout vests chanting for the death of this fish, something that makes it swimming away triumphantly all the more sweeter.