Despite the preponderance of fishing videos, books, television shows and magazine articles that expound intricate patterns and high technology as the best ways to catch fish, the best advice remains to simply fish as much as you can and luck will eventually find you. I believe that; it happened to me last night.
My friend Dave asked my family to come over and visit while his family house sat for some vacationing friends. It was on a nearby lake, so we thought about swimming and sailing, but Dave had fishing in mind – from a paddle boat. Now fishing from a paddle boat is not the most dignifying way of angling, but who said self-esteem was an important product of fishing?
I figured we would float around, have a nice conversation and maybe hook into a hammer handle northern or two. There was the chance to hook a bass, too, so we opted to fish with twister tail jigs. Just as I was reeling in my second cast, I felt the unmistakable jerk of a fish hitting my lure. I set the hook and felt something bigger than a runty perch or sunfish struggling against the rod. It was a fairly nice-sized crappie.
“This could be good,” I said. “Crappies tend to run in schools and maybe we’ll catch more.”
Sure enough, within a few minutes Dave reeled in a scrappy crappie the same size as the first. “We’ll just throw them in this live well thing back here,” he said. I turned around and there was a neat little place molded into the paddle boat to hold a five-gallon pail. We just filled it with water and had nice spot to put our fish. “This is actually kind of cool,” I admitted to myself. “Catch a crappie and drop it in the pail without hardly moving.”
The crappies kept biting pretty well for about 45 minutes, in which we put together a nice mess for a meal. Suddenly we both had bites at the same time – bigger fish that zipped around the boat a few times. That was the first downfall of paddle boat fishing – missing your partners head when you swing your rod around to fight a fish. The fish were small northerns that we threw back.
The two northerns seemed to shut off the crappie bite. We could actually see crappies below the paddle boat eyeballing our jigs, but they wouldn’t bite. It was time to downsize. I tied on a tiny white jig and was able to coax a few more into biting.
Just before dark, we tied on floating minnow baits and twitched them across the surface – one of the most exciting ways to catch bass as they swirl to the surface to grab the bait. Unfortunately no bass bit that night, though we did see a few swirls.
When we peddled our way back in, I thought I will never look at paddle boat fishing the same. It was relaxing, quiet, and put us over fish that wanted to bite. Does a $25,000 fully rigged boat do more? Oh yes, but not on that night!