We started our night launching on the Minnesota River and headed down a couple river miles. We saw anywhere between 57 and 58.4 water temps on our drive down.
Getting out on the Minnesota River with some sunlight is almost a must right now. Not only did we see dead heads, we also experienced rather low river levels in the main channel, as low as 1.5 FOW. A slow pace with a trimmed motor was the ticket.
Our target species this night was big channel cats. We set up in 4 different areas and the bait of choice was cut creek chubs. We focused our efforts on shallower areas (10-15 FOW) adjacent to much deeper holes (30-35 FOW). 3 of the 4 didn’t produce as much as a nibble which made us a little discouraged. The last spot we hit was a "O this spot looks decent, let’s try it before heading in."
As it was approaching 1:00 AM, I was getting a little tired, so I set my pole in and proceeded to take a little rest on the floor of the boat, while Alex and Ryan kept a keen eye on our rods.
This is when the fun started, as my hook set was confirmed, Ryan’s pole doubles over and we are in shock and the sheer power of the fish on the other end of the line, guessing we have hooked into a monster Flathead awake from his wintering slumber, we try to get my fish aboard the boat for a quick release, which was not in the books for us. This shovel nose threw some game back at me and the double fight resumed.
Knowing we had 2 anchors down and another rod in the water, Alex quickly jumps to his rod to reel it in to get it out of the way. "FISH ON", Alex yells, both Ryan and I look stunned as "This can’t be happening."
Needless to say – Alex and I were both able to boat our fish, take quick pictures, and release them before Ryan’s monster fish made it half way back to the boat.
Knowing we had a fight on our hands, the boat was prepared for a clean landing and we were ready to see the first flat head of the year.
You can imagine our astonishment when this monster buffalo first showed his beautiful white belly. "Walleye! Walleye!" we shouted as we got a glimpse of something unusual.
We guess the weight to be somewhere in the range of 20-25lbs .
It’s amazing how a 5 hour fishing trip was changed from a slow poor bite, to one of the most memorable fishing experiences I have had to date.
Thanks again Ryan and Alex for joining me on this adventure.
Also, I can’t stress enough about wearing those PFD’s and knowing the river you are navigating.
Even knowing the river as well as we do – we lost our first prop last night very close to the launch in 7-8 FOW in the main channel.
Keep those lines tight and stay safe out there!