A day on the New River on a Tangent Outfitters “Cast and Blast” is always big fun. A giant fish on a rookie’s line in the rapids can add a layer or two.
From left, Barry Perdue, Ken Kemmerer, Harry Kammer, and Jim Dotson were in the boat at Foster Falls, and also hunted as a part of their day on the New River.
This is on the New River at Foster Falls. It’s our leader, the hard-working Shawn Hash, plus one of his guides and four of us out for a day of fishing. And you could count on one hand the number of fish one of us had caught in his lifetime.
Anyway, we’ve all got lines in the water and suddenly new-guy Barry hooks what appears to be a monster. We had put a crawfish-colored plug on his line, rather than having him try to work a jerk bait or tube jig. So when this big fish jumps on his line, we’re all looking at each other and wondering out loud: Muskie maybe? Walleye?
We are in the rapids there at Foster Falls, and so we can’t drop anchor because the line would get all tangled in it. And so Shawn is paddling like crazy back upstream while everybody on the raft is telling Barry what to do. Not the same things, of course, but different stuff from each of us.
“Relax the drag!” And of course he doesn’t know what “drag” is.
“Work it gentle!” Gentle?! While I’m trying to keep from getting pulled into the water?
“Don’t you come off it!”
“Watch out for the cooler!”
And on and on, while Shawn is paddling his brains out to keep us above the fish, which can happen for only so long.
Because while Shawn continues huffing and puffing, the river keeps on rushing and people keep shouting conflicting advice.
So we finally get into position to try to net it, and at last get to see that it is a huge catfish. Catfish? On a plug?!
Anyway, we get the net out there under it and for one second things look promising.
That second ends when the extension rod on the net breaks off.
We call out to the other raft on the trip to let us use their net. They can’t really hear what we’re screaming and they’re “alongside” only as much as can happen in water crashing by, around and under us as it does in rapids.
Now we have Shawn trying to net the broken net with the fish in it.The river itself continues to, you know, rush on by. Keep in mind that trying to get a fish in from a raft in rapids is just not at all like bringing one in on a Ranger bass boat on a lake, say. Even for an expert like Shawn.
The madness continues for a few more minutes until we finally get the fish in, the broken net in, and the other raft’s net in.
I’m here to tell you that a day on the river is non-stop fun. Eagles overhead, fish all around, great camaraderie – laughs all day long. But I’m not sure I’ve ever had more fun in a solid, concentrated 10 minutes than I did out there that day with the raw-rookie Barry and the big catfish at Foster Falls.