By: Guy P
March - that space on the calendar where there is an anticipation of hope for green grass and the need for some creativity for outdoor adventures. Hunting seasons have passed, ice fishing finds the fish sluggish, and the rotting ice holds a tad more adventure than I like. So what to do?
It has been one of the coldest winters on record in Utah. Tied with 1944 for the honor, old man winter has hung on and hung on.
The weather girl called for sunshine this past Saturday and the river ice had left so my kid came up with a Catfish recon trip. We checked the snow depths there would be down to the fishing hole and decided that snowshoes were in order and thank goodness for them.
It was foggy as we left the truck for the mile hike, and the sun was working hard to burn a hole in it. Waterfowl was abundant to watch as we sauntered along. We found where a fox had found breakfast. Fox are amazing mousers. The snow revealed the other wildlife around. I love to read tracks.
Arriving at our destination we found the water to be low and clear. The Catfish hole is 40 yards from where we can get to on the bank so casting long is a must. Heavy line also a must for hauling them past and out of the dead willows that line the bank. All the hole held this day was carp.
All that did was fuel our anticipation of spring and bowfishing. We did have one bite that was classic large Catfish. We based that off of the bait we were using at the time and the violence transmitted to the 7 foot Ugly Stick that was bent in half. But Riley missed the grab for the pole. So we will never know. But the expert believes the water temps still need to come up a bit to get them out and feeding.
If a carp can be called attractive, these carp were that, solid and fat. The usual bantering of actually eating one was again part of the conversation. And we did our best to justify the possibilities. But the tin foil dinners we’d brought won over our nerve and we sat in the sun and enjoyed them.
Ahhh but boys will be boys. And we soon decided that if there was a carp we’d try it may be one of these due to the quality of the water at the moment and the health the fish looked to be in. And the biggest mistake….We had heat close by.
We soon had cut a piece from the tail base and filleted the skin off. That section of meat is usually the better part of a trout. We wrapped it in the left over juices of the tin foil dinner added a dash of Mt Dew and put it over the heat on our Mountain Series stove. After 15 minutes we figured it was poached.
A contest of Rock, Paper, Scissors, left me the odd man out and first up to try a bite. I was struggling in my head getting past everything I found to be wrong with a Carp. Mostly it was about where they live and the run off they live in. But the Catfish live in these waters too and we eat them, at least the carp are vegetarian. So I popped it in my mouth and waited for the violent reaction. Then it was Riley’s turn, and it brought a thought full pause from him.
If it were not for the little thick bones I had not seen or removed. It may have been a better experience. The taste and texture oddly enough was a bit like Tuna just not as strong. Could you live off it if needed? Yes. Am I going to learn to be a Carp Chef? Nope. But I will continue to help balance our waterways by removing them when I can. The pressure put on the species by Bowfishermen and other fishermen in our area is clearing up the waters. You see less carp but larger carp. The backwaters hold more vegetation and that is habitat restored for shore birds and waterfowl. And from my biological arm chair where I sit…..I’m all in for that effort.