About a week ago my wife and I had a day to get our canoe out on a local lake we'd never been on before. It's the first time we've had it out this year (and one of the few times we've ever had it out), and it would be the first time Nicole had ever fished from a canoe.
We were pretty excited, and got it launched without too much trouble. The reservoir had some other people out, but not too much pressure, and we headed for a secluded cove. We hadn't been fishing long when something big took my bait. I was using the ultralight, and I knew immediately that I was in for a real battle.
I slowly gained ground on the fish, and when I saw it flash, the sight confirmed it was bigger than anything I've caught in years. Nicole was cheering me on, and when I got it near the canoe, I was sure I was going to lose it when it surged under the boat. My rod tip was yanked under, but the line held.
I pulled the fish to the surface, and with only a little difficult, netted the beast. It turned out to be a 23-inch channel catfish, the biggest cat I've ever caught, and probably the second heaviest fish of any species I've ever taken, all on an ultralight rod in a canoe. When I brought him into the boat, he twisted his head and the knot gave way. Incredible.
Nicole was right in describing him as both "beautiful" an "majestic". I quickly slid him back into the water.
Nicole was getting bites, but no fish, and I took one more bluegill. We paddled to a new location (just out of curiosity). We had some issues with snags here, including me launching a cast two feet too far into a fallen tree. We finally got squared away, and the canoe sloooowly starting tilting to the left. And it kept tipping.
When we hit the water, I pushed back on the canoe to keep it from turning over, and I grabbed a rod. We were dunked, but we saved everything except my ultralight combo and one pack of hooks (notable only in showing how little we lost and how blessed we were). We dragged everything to shore and turned the canoe upside down.
A couple guys in a bass boat came by and held the canoe steady while we got back in. An older couple paddled by in their canoe and gave us snotty looks. Yes, I was properly embarrassed -- you don't need to remind me.
We fished a little longer, but some of the fun of it (for me at least) was gone. So we loaded up and went home. Content with having had a proper adventure.
Sidenote: in the continuing circle hook study, I took both fish on circle hooks. The cat was hooked securely in the upper lip, but the 'gill was gut-hooked, and, I suspect, didn't make it. Nicole didn't get any hook-ups on baitholder hooks with fluorocarbon leaders, but this may have more to do with hook-setting technique than with hook choice.