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Herding Cats

As a newcomer to kayak fishing, I was a bit envious of the coastal kayakers who, by all online accounts, frequently do battle with sharks, tunas and other giant fish that tow their boats around on the ocean waters for the "sleigh ride." It wasn't long before I cooked up an idea to replicate their experience here in landlocked Missouri.

This scheme would be carried out on a somewhat smaller scale, and with our state fish, the channel catfish. My fishing buddy and I had developed a means of reliably catching big catfish in his lake using a secret bait (OK, it's fish skin). Once hooked, the big cats usually head toward the center of the lake. My goal was to catch one of these whiskered monsters from the comfort of my kayak and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasted. To top off this adventure, I had my friend ready to video record the whole thing.

I launched my kayak and paddled it over to the arm of the lake where we normally hook the cats. I suppose I momentarily lost faith in our secret fishing system, and baited up two rods to improve the odds of a successful hook-up. I positioned my kayak facing the main part of the lake, and cast the baits out in front of the bow. In less than a minute I had a fish on. I tried to reel in the other line so that it wouldn't get in the way, but there was a fish on that one too! A catfish on each of two rods at the same time is a bit much to handle in a little kayak. I needed two hands for each rod. Another pair for the paddle would have been nice.

I was pulled along for a bit, but shortly the two fish headed in opposite directions. Somehow I held down one rod and landed the fish on the other with an old net that immediately disintegrated. After releasing the first fish, I reeled in the other, which turned out to be a nice six-pounder. I released that one as well.

We got some of the crazy battle on video, but the darned fish had pulled me into some trees and out of camera view near the end.

Written by: Joe Coelho

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