September is my favorite month of the year; that is until October arrives on the scene. The farm sort of goes into a holding pattern while we wait for crop maturity to get here. It affords the opportunity to do things you’ve put off all summer, like fishing. We wanted to go fishing this afternoon so after church we hustled home and hooked the boat onto to the Chevy and headed for the levee. (Sorry, I just about broke into song there) The pontoon boat that we purchased last winter didn’t have a depth finder and that explains why we hadn’t caught any fish the first few times we had the boat in the water. Any self respecting fisherman is aware that you must know the depth of the water before making a good presentation of the bait. Presentation in food is everything, right? I know I heard Julia Childs say that back in her days and I’m sure it also applies to catfish.
We had zero fish to show for our first two times out and that only served to validate my need for a trip to Cabelas for a depth finder. I didn’t need anything fancy. I just wanted to know the depth and I wasn’t planning on trying to find sunken treasure boats or the Titanic. “The cheapest one you’ve got will do me just fine, I already know how to fish.” I said smugly. The man wanted to sell me one with GPS and mapping capabilities so I could easily return to a new found hot spot any time I needed to. “Nope,” I told him “I’ll just paint an X in the bottom of the boat if I have a need to mark the spot. No sense of humor for this guy. I bought the cheap one.
Well I must say it was a pretty nifty installation I performed yesterday and it worked flawlessly. I proudly pronounced that we had eight feet of water right behind the boat as we pulled away from the dock. We hit 18 feet and I shut the motor down and gave the command to drop anchor. As Marilyn sighed she said, “I suppose you want me to do that” as she went to the front to ease the anchor down into the water, she asked if this was the depth we were looking for. “Yep this should be perfect.” I was confident, I am the Captain after all.
I repeated those same words over and over throughout the afternoon as we tried 12 feet and 22 and eight and everything in between. We used worms and chicken livers as well as commercial prepared bait and not to mention a feather covered varmint from the bottom of my tackle box. We anchored some. We drifted some. Not a nibble.
Before long I had yielded to the temptation of that big couch across the back of the boat. I stretched out and before falling asleep in that crisp autumn air; I explained the big mistake we had made to my still eagerly fishing wife. “Catfish will bite on chicken livers and night crawlers but we should have brought bait shrimp along too, they love shrimp.
“But we didn’t have any bait shrimp at home,” she replied. I said, “No but we have that two pound package of ‘people shrimp’ in the freezer, the ones we’ve been saving for something special.” “We could have dipped one of those shrimp in the lake to find out that the catfish weren’t biting and dipped the rest of them in cocktail sauce.”
We now have a plan for next time and I’ll bet we won’t care how deep the water is.