Fifteen More Minutes

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  1. metalman

    metalman Well-Known Member

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    Winston
    Fifteen More Minutes ​


    It was inevitable really. After such a mild December and January I was sure that we would pay for it at some time in the future. Fishing trips had been made in those months that would never have normally been made and someone was going to have to make recompense to restore the natural order of things.

    Sure as apples is apples, as the much-anticipated weekend approached the forecasters painted an ever-gloomier picture of what any fervent fishermen could expect. It is virtually impossible to be ahead of the weather. The only way to be at least on par with it is to be spontaneous. Trouble is, spontaneity and the pre planning necessary when it comes to BOC gatherings are mutually exclusive. The annual Cumberland City Fish‘n’Camp had been scheduled for some time so that all who might attend could make their plans. With said plans made, good weather or bad, it was game on!

    My partner in crime for this jaunt was Brent, a.k.a. Rodpod. We had decided well before the gathering that only a weather event of biblical proportions would prevent our attending and with a less than encouraging forecast I left the house at 4.00am on the morning of February 10th with both anticipation and warm clothes in abundance. My wife, bless her heart, had given me an early Valentines Day gift of a new set of Carharts and I was eager to get them slimy.

    I picked up Brent who was standing in the driveway with is gear when I pulled up too the house. I was not the only one keen to get down there.

    After meeting D.H., Ryan and Stoney for a quick breakfast near I-24 we headed down the road. I should mention at this point that Brent was sick as a dog and by rights should have been home in bed. He was pale, had been suffering from extra-curricular activity of the gastric kind at both ends and his bubbling innards would not let him eat more than a bite of biscuit and scrambled egg. He was firing on about two and a half cylinders. Not the best shape to be with what potentially lay in store.

    After a quick stop for boat gas and TN fishing licenses we arrived at the ramp and the boats were soon launched. Our initial plan had been to go to the steam plant and catch bait but as some kind soul had left a bunch of fresh skips for the taking we grabbed a few and set out. We headed down stream and were soon marking huge numbers of stacked up fish. Although I was skeptical that they were catfish it’s hard to pass up those sorts of marks so we anchored up and the baits went out. The weekend was officially under way. At this point the weather was quite pleasant and so we waited. It didn’t take long for the pecking to start, confirmation that whatever was down there was not what we were looking for.


    We motored upstream past the steam plant, all the while scanning shoreline and sonar for signs promising structure. Ledges, drop-offs and other likely looking places were probed with juicy cuts of skipjack as we attempted to interest a Cumberland River bruiser. Brent was having a tough time. The bug, combined with having not eaten much in the previous twenty-four hours had left him with little energy. We had lots of pull downs and hits but connected with only two fish each, the biggest of which was a plump twelve pounder that paid Brent a visit. The other three, two blues and a channel were pan sized and were neither weighed nor photographed. The Highlight of the afternoon was the sight of at least a hundred wild turkeys wandering the shoreline while what appeared to be a bald eagle cruised above them. It’s not often that you get to see one the homeliest of birds and one of the most handsome in the same view.

    [​IMG]

    The weather had deteriorated steadily during the afternoon and with only about forty-five minutes of daylight, the boat liberally covered in ice and snow and four fish totaling about twenty pounds we called it a day. Back at the ramp our truck sitting by itself in the snow-covered parking lot was either a testament to our determination or, perhaps, to our inability to know when to say when.

    The evening, too, did not go quite to plan. The original thought had been to meet D H, Ryan and Stoney for some dinner but what with having got off the river late and my right hand man barely able to drag himself into the motel room we decided to stay put. We ate a sandwich and while Brent surrendered to fatigue I went to the Laundromat next door to dry out our damp clothes. Later in the evening we wandered down to Bryan’s camper where were gathered a motley bunch of “The Brethren”, as my wife calls us, under the awning swapping lies. Some I knew, others I half recognized from profile pictures. One face that was instantly recognizable was the mystery guest. Paul, the B.O.C. founding father had shown up, tempted no doubt by the prospect of building a snowman, something they don’t often get to do in Georgia! It was good to finally meet “The Boss”. After brief introductions and some how-ya-bin’s we B’S’d for a while before turning in. It was eighteen hours since I had left Indy and I went out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

    Oh the power of sleep! I regained consciousness around 5.30 and amazingly Brent was not only awake but said he felt much better. Stepping outside we were glad to see that the inch or so of snow that had fallen the night before was thawing a little. We breakfasted at the diner across the street and were soon on the road to the ramp. Despite much conjecture the previous evening on what the condition of the ramp would be we found it to be clear of any ice or snow and were soon on the river. Our first job was to get fresh bait. We nosed gently into the steam plant discharge and lowered the anchor. At first they were not forthcoming but after about forty-five minutes we had enough to last the day. After one particularly hard hit complete with hissing drag I thought I had a triple. It turned out to be a nice striper about twenty-four inches long.

    We headed out onto the river looking for prize that had eluded us the day before. The first spot proved fruitless and we continued our search. Nothing in vicinity yelled “hot spot” so I hit the throttle to run down river a bit. The boat surged forward and then hesitated, again it surged and again it hesitated. I glanced over my shoulder as Brent let out a loud “Holy *#@&%! (He can be such a potty-mouth). Forty feet behind the boat thirty pounds of steel were bouncing across the surface like some Iron Age water toy. I had completely forgotten about the rear anchor put out to steady the boat against the upstream wind. With the anchor stowed and wits gathered we set off again.

    [​IMG]

    We started to see some good-looking features and a few nice marks on the screen. We agreed to continue down stream looking and fish our way back up, stopping at the places we had noted. As we stared back up toward the first of these the screen grabbed my attention. Though there were none of the huge arches we love to see, the bottom just looked right. It’s hard to explain but it just looked right. I said to Brent to get ready to lower the anchor and he looked at me with a puzzled expression. “Here?” he said, “I thought we were going further up”. “I think we should try here,” I said matter-of-factly. The anchor was lowered without further comment but with body language that spoke volumes. We drifted back toward the spot. At my nod Brent tied us off and the boat settled nicely in the current. Though the breeze was light at that moment I lowered the rear anchor in case it got gusty and made a mental to remember to pull it up this time!

    Fresh skipjack was cut into a variety of offerings, blood-dripping heads, meaty chunks, tender fillets and juicy guts were cast out and the traps were set. It wasn’t too long before we had some interest. The peck, pecking of the day before was now replaced with firm steady pull downs, the kinds that usually result in hook-ups with the large circle hooks we were using. After several false starts where the rods would ease back straight just as we got to them one of my rods went down and stayed there. I wound down on him firmly before taking the rod from the holder. He was hooked. After a brief fight that was without drama Brent put the net under our first decent fish. He weighed in at twenty-seven pounds and was quickly photographed and returned. We were both pumped and after a short while one of Brent’s rods went down and he was into a fight of his own. I returned the favor with the net and another nice blue came onboard. Not to be outdone, Brent’s fish went to thirty pounds and change and was a new personal best for him. After a quick picture or two the fish was returned and fresh bait sent out. Compared to the day before, Brent had woken up this morning a new man. Right now he was like two new men. All thoughts of his previous discomforts replaced by the image of his biggest blue.

    With the disturbance of two fish caught and returned I asked him if he thought we should move. His answer became the catchphrase for the rest of the day. “Give it fifteen more minutes”? Phrased more like another question than an answer. In no time the steady pulls began again and we were both muttering to our rods telling the fish to stop playing and just take it. One of my inside rods went down firmly but not far and within a second both of my outside rods also went down. Brent asked what I wanted him to do and I said “Just deal with one of those” nodding to the outsiders and I picked up the first rod, the line of which was tightening nicely. I wound into him and eased back on the rod, which took on a serious battle curve as I met with solid resistance. It was immediately apparent that this was a very good fish. The line was singing and the drag hissing as the fish rolled and thrashed below. It took some effort to get him heading upwards as he used his brute strength against me. Once on the move however he merely used his bulk and the current to try and wear me out. With nine other lines out the back of the boat it was surprising that we had yet to have a fish tangle the lines. This guy made up for all that once I got him to the surface and he proceeded to get wrapped up in one of mine and one of Brent’s as we both stared at his size. My net man did a fine job and we lifted him into the boat.

    [​IMG]

    There at my feet lay the biggest blue catfish I had ever seen other than in pictures. It was an awesome sight. As I unhooked the beast I looked at Brent and said “And you didn’t want to anchor here”. He just looked back and said “And you were considering moving fifteen minutes ago”. We laughed and he got the camera while I got the scales. With fifty-seven pounds on the scale and pictures taken I watched him swim back from whence he came. “What now”? I said. ”Fifteen more minutes” Brent replied, this time with authoritative tone. What the heck, I thought; I need a rest now anyway! We cleaned up our respective tangles and new baits were cast out. I looked down at front of my new Carharts. They were covered with slime, skipjack blood and some nasty stuff the biggun had dumped on me as I had lifted over the side to release him……….. Mission accomplished!

    I don’t know exactly how many minutes later, it could have been fifteen, my inside rod slammed down hard and stayed down. I wound down and again felt solid resistance though not the kind I had felt earlier. “Are you *&%^$@ kidding me”? Brent asked, rhetorically (Told you he was a potty-mouth). After a brief episode of give and take and a good net job another nice blue lay in the boat. Thirty-nine pounds was a very nice fish to back up the fifty-seven. With the fish photographed and returned we put out new baits and waited. Fifteen minutes turned to thirty but by now we had well and truly “burned the hole”. We up-anchored and set off up stream.

    The rest of the afternoon was spent searching for another honey hole but to no avail. Wherever we set up we had nothing but pecks or half-hearted pull downs. Weather wise, though cool, the day had turned out quite nice and the boat was just about dried out from the ice and snow the day before. There was nothing in the sky to back up the weatherman’s prediction of snow later in the day. Brent suggested that for the last hour we run back down and fish the place we had struck gold earlier so off we went. We set up and waited. Down stream the sky was turning cloudier and what appeared to be rain was falling in the far distance. It came up the river like a rocket! First the wind and on it a dry snow that resembled little Styrofoam balls. Then came big fat wet snowflakes that created a total whiteout. We cried uncle and set off to the ramp with Brent handing me a steady supply of Kleenex as I made futile efforts to keep my glasses de-iced. For the second day in a row we arrived back at the ramp with the boat and ourselves covered in ice and snow. Again ours was the only truck in the parking lot. If nothing else we were consistent! We loaded quickly and without incident and no sooner was the boat up the ramp than the clouds gave way to a blue sky. We shucked off our wet outer layers and threw them in the back of the truck. We headed back to the motel elated and looking forward to the next item on the gathering agenda, the food!

    We had kept in touch with DH on and off throughout the day and word had spread that we had done well. We changed clothes and headed for Tom’s room where the victuals were laid out. Everyone was very complimentary and we graciously (I hope) accepted the “attaboys” and “You-da-man’s” as we started to unwind, relax and enjoy the excellent food and pleasant company.

    We hung out until about 8.45pm and then headed back to Indiana. No sooner had we got going than the snow started to come down again. The view through the windshield resembled that from the flight of the starship Enterprise when the captain says “Engage”; the bright white snowflakes coming at us at what seemed like warp speed. The snow fell almost continuously and although the roads seemed clear, with a trailer behind me, I chose caution over haste. We arrived in Evansville on the right side of midnight and Brent immediately got to work posting pictures on the board. I left the Castle McDivitt early and after meeting DH for a bite of breakfast I headed back to Indianapolis dog tired but very happy.

    [​IMG]

    If you have never been to a B.O.C. gathering I urge you to try to make it to one. The camaraderie is tangible and everyone is treated like family. There is such a cross section of people that one cannot help but meet interesting characters. A big thank you to all who put this one together, see you all next year if not before…W
     
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