Along The Trail 5-29-14

6

Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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The yard needs mowing, the weeds could be sprayed.

A quart of unopened paint waits to be brushed on the front porch posts - but the breeze is warm this afternoon and the sun is high and bright. The Ohio is creeping towards 45′ and the bottoms will be flooding.

The chores can wait ’til tomorrow, the fish won’t.

Slip on some well worn tennis shoes, an old pair of pants and head to the slough. Buck’s Run is nothing more than a large drainage ditch that parallels the river at different points between Rising Sun and Laughery Creek, but it holds a lot of memories of my youth. Over the years, if all the stars aligned, there was a no better place to bow fish.

Hopefully this evening, I can introduce my son to the same experiences I had as a teen. I wonder if he’ll remember this outing and the old, muddy slough.

The slough has leaked out into the low fields making everything look like a calm, flat lake. The river water was cool at first touch, but as we waded in up to our knees, we gradually got used to it. I sneak over to the edge of the ditch and wait in the high grass. Not long and the tell-tale splashing of carp rolling starts.

The orange fish take to the weedy shallows, fins and tails breaking the water’s surface. A well placed arrow and our first fish is hauled in, a respectable five-pounder.

The boy and I slip along in the water, trying not to disturb fish as we go. I watch as Drew zones in and lines up his shot. The fiberglass arrow streaks into the water and fish explode out of the weeds in all directions. He hand winds in his string with a fat carp attached to the other end.

For the next hour, the pattern continues, slipping along in the clear, shallow water, waiting for one of the cruising fish to come within range of our recurves. Plenty of misses, but lots of hits and soon, our fish count was piling up.

We waded our way up stream and the slough had spilled out even wider, covering more of the grassy field. The water here had settled and when the ripples from the wind subsided, visibility was high. The carp still rolled and tailed, but the water was deeper, over our thighs. It looked more like a scene from brackish waters in the coastal South and fishing for redfish and sea trout.

A large, gray colored fish came close, bigger than any I had seen. My shaft struck it hard, but one strong run and the big gal pulled the arrow loose. I reeled the arrow back in and hoped for another chance at whatever the big fish was.

“If there’s one in here, there must be more” I thought to myself.

Not long and another of the big, steel colored fish caught my attention. It was moving fast, making it’s own wake near the edge of the deeper water slough. I brought my bow string back, hit my anchor point and the arrow zipped into the water. A hard pull against my bow told me the arrow was locked deep in the fish.

In one ungraceful move, I pulled the line, hopped, trotted and lunged towards the fighter at the end of my string. In a few short moments, I was out of breath and panting from the rush of adrenaline. I drove the arrow in the bottom of the field and called for the kid to come and help me get the fish to the shore.

The monster fought and splashed the entire way to the edge of the grass. I finally dragged it through the weeds and onto dry land to get a look at her.

My first “Bigmouth Buffalo”! (Yes it’s actually a species of carp.)

These massive, gray carp can reach 70-pounds and be over 50-inches long. Mine wasn’t to that scale but she was in excess of three feet and I can only guess it’s weight about 30-pounds, but it was plenty big enough for me!

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying get a few more. My son shot and landed a dandy buffalo of his own at just shy of 33-inches, but after arrowing his second large one and having his line break off, our bowfishing expedition was cut short.

So to answer my own question, I’m certain that the old slough has created some great memories for the next generation of teenage boy and even more for his middle-aged dad.

– David Hewitt