Categorized | Opinion

Mississippi River Blue Cats & Crabs

By Josh Gowan

David Sellers of Brighton poses with a 10-pound coldcreek gatorgar he caught near Ripley.

David Sellers of Brighton poses with a 10-pound coldcreek gatorgar he caught near Ripley.

There’s a play on words somewhere in there, but this fisherman is too tired to find it.
The finale to my Florida vacation and the results of the jugging tournament are as followed!
I wasn’t able to fit all of my salt water adventures into the last few week’s columns, so here’s the conclusion. After an amazing trip in Apalachicola Bay, Thursday morning brought our first rain, a common occurrence on the Gulf.
The family was holding up well, but by 10:30 I’d had all the “cooped up” I could stand, and took a fishing pole and headed out in the rain. I took the opportunity to check out a new area, the rock jetty used to barrier the canal leading to the inland boat ramp.
There were a few guys fishing off the shore nearby, and I struck up a conversation while inventorying the area. They were using shrimp for bait, and getting a ton of bites but unable to hook anything. Since by this time I was a certified expert at catching fish from shore, I gave them a couple of Sabiki rigs and they immediately started reeling in “Sea Bream” and other smaller fish. While I was there, one of the Georgia natives spotted “another crab”.
My wife was adamant about me catching blue crabs while on vacation, but after the local restaurants and fish markets told us it was a bad year for crabs and nobody was catching any, we both gave up.
One of the many freshwater pieces of equipment I modified for the trip was my frog gig. I switched the spear to a fish gig and attached a fishing net to the back end. Once I saw the crab, I took off back to the house and retrieved my “Get” (gig/net). The rain stopped and the sun came out, and with three crabs already in my bucket, I called for the rest of the family to walk down. We caught around 25 blue crabs that afternoon, and went back to the house to clean them and acquire the shrimp, corn, potatoes and old bay seasoning for a crab boil. Once I had everything cleaned and all the ingredients gathered, my wife started preparing the meal and I went back for more. Once the daylight faded to darkness, my headlamp revealed crabs galore.
My wife called me, agitated that I hadn’t come home to eat, and I told her to get the kids, the flashlights, and the small nets I brought and get down here! I’m not sure how many we caught, but my thumbs are still recovering from cleaning them all, and the kids had a blast chasing them around in the calm, moonlit surf.
The 2013 Blockin’ on the River tournament in Caruthersville, Mo was this past weekend, and the weather was uncooperative. Being that I’d been on vacation, my pre-fishing was non-existent, which hurt us. Chippy and I arrived at Caruthersville at 4:30am to suspicious skies (happy Elvis week by the way). The radar was ominous and there was just no doubt that bad weather was coming. The organizers of the event announced that the tournament would go on as planned regardless of weather and that it would clear up in a few hours, but you could put in at 6:15 a.m. at your own risk if you wanted. After our experience at Reelfoot this past spring, getting caught in a thunderstorm and having to spend an hour under a tarp in a cypress grove, we decided to wait until it cleared up.
At around 9:45 we put in and headed up to our spot. On the way we saw a really good looking stretch of water and decided to give it a try, we’ve spent the last two days regretting it.
The weather was still suspect, and we were tired after sitting around for four hours, so unfortunately we opted out of the hour ride up the Mississippi River to familiar waters.
We managed around 25 pounds worth of catfish, and outside of the dismal weight, had one of the nicest days on the river we’ve ever had. It’s a dangerous body of water that demands respect and caution, but when the conditions are right, it’s one of the most beautiful and powerful places on earth.
The Masingale brothers, a professional catfishing team from Arkansas, annihilated the rest of us weighing in more than 90 pounds.
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com

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