The nine-foot rod was bent into a semi-circle and the line etched crazy little circles into the water's surface where the Missouri's heavy currents swept across.
"This is a good one, " Pat Carter said as he applied all the pressure he dared.
The fish was dogged and plenty strong, peeling off line every time Pat would gain a few feet.
"Might have to follow this one," Pat's brother Darrell noted.
In fact, we did. Darrell tied a buoy to the anchor rope and untied it letting the boat slip down with the current because we sure couldn't bring the fish upstream.
With the boat above the fish, Pat began to gain some line and before long the hefty channel cat rolled on the surface and Darrell scooped it up in the net.
It drew the scale down to 10 1/2 pounds.
That, we agreed, would be a nice catch during the tournament.
In fact, we were doing a little pre-fishing. Each of us plan to participate in the upcoming U.S.C.A.T.S. Iowa District II catfish tournament Saturday, July 30, on the Sioux City waterfront.
Last year's event was the first ever on Iowa's Missouri River. A total of 16 teams registered for the event and brought a total of 142.3 pounds of catfish to the scale.
It didn't surprise me that Darrell, Jefferson, S.D., and his son Matt topped the field with a total of 40.92 pounds of fish. Darrell is a long-time U.S.C.A.T.S. top competitor. And so, in fact, is Pat who has fished in a good many tournaments with his brother. Pat and his partner Cathy Neal brought home third place honors. Get this, another brother, Larry of Sioux City, and his partner Steve Lemmon, Jefferson, took second. Catfishing, apparently, runs in the family.
Big fish honors last year went to Phillip Drappeaux, Sergeant Bluff and Billie McKinney Salix, Iowa with a 10.66 pound blue catfish.
Iowa District President John Shultz was pleased with last year's event and promised to bring it back to the Missouri's swift currents and swirling waters. Darrell and Pat said this year's event already has more teams signed up than last year at the same time.
And competitors will be fishing for more prize money. First place is a guaranteed $1,000 minimum. Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. from the Sioux City Municipal Boat Ramp and return at 4 p.m. for the weigh-in and awards ceremony. Door prizes will be donated by Scheels All Sports and the event is being sponsored by Dick's Bait & Tackle, 2928 Gordon Drive. Entry blanks and rules are available at Dick's.
Entry fee is $100 per team with an optional $10 for the big fish pot. Anglers may also sign up the morning of the tournament but entry fees must be paid in cash at that time. A maximum of 10 fish per boat will be weighed and all fish must exceed the minimum length limit of 14 inches. Chumming or fishing baited holes is prohibited. Anglers do not have to be a member of US-CATS to participate.
For more information about the tournament, call Darrell Carter (605) 966-5685; Pat Carter (712) 281-1841 or John Shultz (319) 929-5048.
The evening Darrell, Pat and I spent on the river we caught fish in each of the three holes we fished. We ended with eight channel cats ranging in size from about 2 pounds to better than 4 pounds which is about the average catch.
Highlight of the evening for me was breaking in half a relatively new graphite triggerstick rod. The 7-foot, medium action rod was no match for the catfish that I set the hook into. He didn't budge an inch and I felt him shake a time or two before the stick broke and the 20-pound line came down on the broken section and snapped.
I'll be better rigged come tournament time. If you'd like to learn more about US-CATS check out their website at: www.uscats.org.
Larry Myhre is editor of the Journal. Reach him at (712) 293-4201 or email at email@example.com