Ronnie’s Beat almost Beats Him.
Fishing the S. Platte near Overland Park
Ronnie the right honorary river keeper reports on recent rod bending in the Denver South Platte.
August 20, 2012 5:49:31 PM
By Ronnie Crawford
This is a little wordy, but finish it, or you’ll never know what happened. I got off the river about an hour ago. Oh, what a morning! I hit the river, near my house, at 6:45 this morning. I usually carry two rods, a 9 ft. fly rod and a light-weight 7-1/2 foot spinning rod. I started at my favorite stretch, just downstream of the Florida Ave. bridge. The morning is cool and pleasant, with a little moss in the water, and the sound of traffic as the workers are going to their jobs.
I can see the smallmouth hitting on the surface, so I tie on a dry fly. Not a hit, nothing. I tie on a carp fly and immediately catch a 12 in. smallmouth. I target a couple of carp, but they’re not having any part of it. The fly is accumulating too much moss, so I pick up my spinning rod. For those of you that don’t know how I fish, I use long, lightweight rods, 6 lb. test line, and crimp all barbs. I try to give the fish as much of a chance to get away as I can. I landed several more bass between 8 and 12 inches on my favorite spinner. The Denver South Platte is a smallmouth stream, but the two of the bass were largemouth! I worked the stream for a hundred feet or so and decided it was time to try the fly rod again. I had a nice carp on for a second, maybe a second. Then nothing for about 20 minutes. So, I packed it up, and went home for another cup of coffee and plan B. I retrieved plan B from the refrigerator; my trusty nigh crawlers.
I hit the river at a different spot. This time, I’m just below the bicycle bridge, near Overland Pond Park. It’s a real nice hole, about 6-7 feet deep. First cast, another 12 in. smallmouth, then a 10 in. largemouth, all on the carp fly. Several more bass on my spinner. It’s all too crazy. I fish the Denver S. Platte, 4 or 5 times a week, and never do I get action like this. By now, I’m getting a little complacent and I’m longing for the tug and run of a really big fish. I wade across the river and go down stream about 150 feet, to my favorite carp water. I throw my fly at the carp, but there’s too much moss hanging on it.
So, by now I’m ready for the fight of my life. Bring it on. I put a night crawler and a small split shot on my fly line. I let it drift in the current, and it bounces along the bottom. Zing, my reel is ablaze, screaming. He took me out well into my backing. I probably only had 20-30 feet of backing left on my reel. I nervously kept checking my reel, and I could see bottom! He’s a traveler. He ran me downstream about 150 feet. My hand went to sleep and my arm was tired. After about 20 minutes, I land this big carp. 32 inches! (I carry a tape measure and measure all of my big fish.)
That was an ordeal. I was tired. I walked back upstream to where I was, when the big one hit. I thought about going home, but you all know what a mental task it is to walk away from the water on a day like this.
I put on another nightcrawler and did the drift another couple of times. Cleaning off the moss, I thought I’ll throw a few more times and see what happens. So, that little worm is bouncing along the bottom and BOOM. I mean BOOM. I set the hook and the fight was on. I could see him out there. He was huge, bigger than the last one, and he was swimming upstream, how weird. So then, he changed direction and headed down stream. I have never had my real scream like that. I was into the backing again. Until today, I had never had a fish take me into my backing like this. I’m looking at my reel and seeing bottom again! Holy crap! What the heck is going on? I fight him for 20-25 minutes and he’s still not ready to give up yet. And I thought I was tired before!! It was a tussle of epic proportions. Damn my arm is tired. My hand is falling asleep again. Crap. I got him within 100 feet of me a couple of times. A hundred feet is not that close at all, and he runs me well into the backing again and again.
Well, a funny thing happened, He’s got me into the backing again. There was probably forty feet of backing out, when CRACK, a sound that I’ve never heard before. I thought that my rod had broken. I’d never heard that sound before. My rod relaxed. My next thought was that my line had finally given out. I looked out into the water, thirty feet downstream, and my fly line is floating away from me. The backing had parted from the fly line. The knot had given way. So with fly rod in hand, I run to get my line.
I’ve never run that fast, in water, in my life. I reached the line and pulled in the slack.That fish was still on! I think when the pressure released from my line, the fish felt it was free and didn’t try to make a run for it. Now what the heck do I do? No rod and I’ve got a monster attached. I wrap the line around my left hand several times to secure it and with my right hand I slowly coax the big guy in. This is all so surreal. He makes a couple more runs. I knew that without a rod and holding the fly line in my hands, that there wasn’t much chance of me getting a good look at this fish. But I just had to know how big he was, at least. After another five minutes or so, he was tiring, and so was I. I got him into my view, and it was a monster channel cat. I’ve never caught a channel cat in the Denver S.Platte.
I had him ten feet or so from me and I got my net ready. I need three hands. This thing was 8-10 inches wide at the head and 32-34 inches long. My heart’s beating about out of my body, but I’m trying to maintain steady pressure. Now, I’ve got him four feet straight in front of me. We’re looking at each other, eye to eye. Remember, no rod. By now he’s so close that I’m holding him, with my leader, a 2X. I slip the net under him, and I’ve got him! He makes one last thrash. He’s on the rim of the net. Leader in one hand, net in the other, can you picture this? He’s momentarily straddling the rim of the net and damn, it’s 50-50. He falls off of the rim, and swims away slowly, very slowly.
I don’t know how to figure his size, 30 pounds maybe. As he swam away, I gave him a strong salute and thanked him for the battle. I salute all of my big fish. I figure they have earned it…..And the beat goes on … for both of us!