Along The Trail 5-18-17


The Ohio had backed up, muddy and sluggish and spilled into the bottoms.

I kept close tabs on it’s rise for a couple days and knew that carp would follow the water into the shallows. Each morning and afternoon on my drive to and from work, I’d watch the fields along Grant’s Creek for the tale tell signs of the big orange fish and sure enough like clock work, there they were, splashing and tailing in the shallow edges.

I knew that if the carp were in the flooded creek fields, my favorite, old slough in the river bottoms should be full of fish.

That afternoon, I grabbed my bowfishing gear, an old Shakespeare brand recurve from the 60’s and a fiberglass arrow with a stout fish point on the business end. My reel is nothing more than a shoot through hoop, duct taped to the limbs of the bow and loaded with heavyweight line tied off to the tail end of the arrow shaft. As far as bowfishing equipment goes, it’s a pretty cheap set up, but it’s more than effective.

I picked up my son, home for a few weeks from college and we made our way to the slough. The river had given the old ditch all she could hold and the slough had poured over into the fallow corn fields creating a long, shallow lake. It didn’t take long and we saw fish everywhere in the weeds, fins and tails, jumping from the water’s surface and splashing around making a ruckus. The carp were all in to spawn and we were sure to have some fast shooting.

The air was cool and the sky cloudy, but the shallow water along the edges of the ditch had warmed quickly turning the fish on in a frenzy…Arrows zipped from our bows and soon the fight was on as we both hoisted some big fish into our hands. Drew braved his way across the slough, nearly up to his chest in deep water in order to get to the fish on the other side, spawning in a large depression now full of two feet of water. I didn’t dare cross the ditch and the muddy water that would have been up to my neck!

The action continued fast and furious, with plenty of misses, but even more hits as we reeled in the giant minnows. We both took several carp in the 10-15 pound range and had racked up quite a pile of the rough fish. The kid even took a strange looking carp with long, trailing fins and a huge broad tail. Something called a Common Fantail Carp, I’d never heard of or seen one before. It looked like a cross between a typical carp and a giant, fancy goldfish on steroids.

We’d been at it long enough and both smelled like the inside of a fish processing plant so it was time to clean up our mess and go. But, just as we were about to head out, a large white fish cruised through the shallows followed by a half dozen or so orange carp. The white fish was big enough to create its own wake as she swam through the water. Moby Dick? No, not the fabled whale, but a Big Mouth Buffalo. Yes, there are actually rough fish called a Big Mouth Buffalo. The big fish turned broadside and I let my arrow fly into the murky water and pay dirt!

The fight was on as I hand reeled the old gal into the shallows and eventually dragged her into the weeds along the edge. A big one for sure! With no scales to weigh her, I can only guess by her heft that it was 30 to 35 pounds! A good note to end our day on.

Drew and I walked back across the flooded shallows and didn’t say much, which seems to be more normal between us as he’s grown into a young man. But, we don’t need to fill every second with chatter or useless conversation. The bowfishing was great, but the time spent with my adult son was second to none and without saying a word, I know he felt the same way.

– David Hewitt