Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

I went fishing, had great fun

Wick's World


Wick Fisher went fishing.

"Do not put catfish heads down the disposal. It can burn out the motor and close the fish cleaning station waiting for parts." (Actual quote)

On the last night of our trip I broke a different rule. The entire 3-pound slimy catfish slithered out of my hands and down the hole. I was fortunate to retrieve it by getting both hands around it without getting stabbed by the fish's two facial spikes. I only found myself in the predicament of cleaning three channel catfish because my Minnesota buddies, Slim Jim and Sonny Boy, live by an unwritten rule of fishing: If it doesn't begin with a wall and end with an eye, they will neither eat it nor clean it. To their credit, they are two of the best walleye fishermen in the state of Minnesota.

By the time we got around to cleaning the day's catch, my antics had worn fairly thin with Slim and Sonny. Their No. 1 fishing rule is to have fun. Their second rule is to catch walleyes. My No. 1 fishing rule is also to have fun. My No. 2 rule is to have even greater fun.

We were fishing the Dude Ranch near Oacoma, South Dakota, on a warm, sunny afternoon. Unlike the night before, the fishing was rather slow. Slim laid back on the sandy beach and closed his eyes for a moment. He had parked his pole and carcass near a small pool of water. I was about 20 feet upshore from him when I spotted a fairly good size rock. I hand-signaled my three other buddies to "watch this." I took a basketball-type shot at the water puddle and the moment the rock went "sploosh," I yelled, "Jimmy!" He was on his feet reeling in the line quicker than you could say "paddlefish."

"Oh, heck. I missed it," Slim Jim pouted. When he looked around and noticed we were razzing him, he uttered a few more words that were a shade stronger than, "Oh, heck."

I had a much better trick up my sleeve. Slim Jim and Sonny Boy had been attacking the walleyes with gusto. We all were tossing back a plethora of 14-inch plus walleyes that were just below the slot limit set for the year. They also caught most of the keepers we took back to Minnesota.

Let's say just for the record that I averaged one keeper a day. I felt it was time to slow these boys down. I put a new minnow on my hook and let go a mighty cast. The minnow landed at a 45-degree angle about 100 feet to my right. My hook, line and sinker landed at a 45-degree angle about 100 feet to my left. I had crossed all four of Jim's and Sonny Boy's lines. Now, normally in a situation such as this, I would respectfully hold my pole high in the air, walk past them and their four lines, and reel in and try again.

What I should have done and what I actually did were two different things. I stayed where I was and slowly began to reel in my line. When I made contact with Sonny Boy's line, I gave a few short jerks. It worked perfectly.

"I got a bite!" Sonny Boy excitedly hollered.

I quickly reeled in further and made contact with Slim Jim's line. "I got one hitting my line, too!" he exclaimed.

By the time they caught on to my mischievousness, I was beside myself with laughter.

"Geez, Wick, you are really a piece of work. You single-handedly put five lines out of commission," Jim stated.

Back to the last night of the trip - we're cleaning our limit of fish, ready to take them back to Minnesota. Slim Jim and Sonny Boy have just filleted a dozen walleyes faster than you can say, "A record 127-pound paddlefish was caught today in Chamberlain, South Dakota." It actually was.

I was still struggling with the nervous, slippery catfish that I was longing to make into dinner. Not wanting to skin the darn thing while it was still alive, I came up with an ingenious idea. I'll whack it in the head to stun it so it won't feel any pain. I looked around for a rock, a hammer or just about anything big enough to knock out a catfish. Then I spotted it - Slim Jim's electric filet knife had a heavy 2-pound battery attached. I grabbed the knife by the battery and gave the catfish a whack.

My hand and the battery, now full of fish slime, flew in the air and directly down the garbage disposal.

Slim Jim did an about face, not believing what he just saw. With an incredulous look he growled, "Who would use a battery for a hammer?"

I retrieved his precious battery faster than you could say, "Walleye, sauger, small-mouth bass, crappie, northern, drumhead, skipjack, carp, catfish and baby snapping turtle."

These were all things the Missouri River produced on our three-day excursion of fun to my old hometown, Chamberlain, South Dakota. When fishing the Big Muddy, you never know what surprise may come your way - even a 2-pound electric knife battery.


Reader Comments

wiggy writes:

Wick, lived and loved that article. Must have caught the snapping turtle while I was sleeping. Let's do it again.


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