Jones Landing: First Fish of the Year

I belong to a pretty cool fishing club ... Jones Landing on the James.  It's a mixture of people, all different in their own way, but with one thing to bind us all together, the James River.  During the 2010 fishing season we had some outstanding fishing competitions and this year is going to just as strong, if not stronger.

It's been a cold winter, which has made that first fish for the club in 2011 that much more elusive.  We've been talking about that fish for a month now.  We've seen them jump, and even had a dream or two about that first fish.  I personally have been out twice before this past Sunday, and I've heard about two or three other trips made by members in their jon boats.  No bites, just cold wind and the old college try.  This past Saturday, a good buddyof mine, Jeff Duncan, asked if I wanted to fish on Sunday for a few hours, and I said ABSOULUTELY, but let me check with my wife first!!

With permission to fish in hand, we loaded the boat around 11AM on Sunday, January 30.  It was a perfect day to fish with 50 degree temperatures the day before, and the air temps were slated to get to near 50 again.  No wind and a good combimnation of veteran river fishermen.  We had fresh-caught minnows for bass, a few new lures to try for smallies and some frozen gizzard shad for catfish.  Upon loading the boat I noticed the water clarity was not the best, so I thought catfishing might be our best bet.  We headed out to our first spot, a catfish hole, a place I've been wanting to try for the last two weeks but hadn't.

Jeff and I cut the shad up and cast out two rods each. We put them into the Discovery Gheenoe's rod holders, and started to fish for smallmouth bass.  After a few casts, I put the smallie rod down and focused on the catfish, trying to get a bit by calling on the river gods, by giving it the old catfish call.  About five minutes later, one of Jeff's brand new rods made a jump, with a little line pulling off the reel.  A definite hit.  Thirty seconds later, we had the first fish of the year on, now all we had to do was land it.  The fish fought pretty hard for 38 degree water, it came to the surface and rolled, then splashed.  A minute later it was at the side of the boat, so I reached my hand down into the cold water, slid my fingers into its jaw and clamped down .... no way was the first fish of the year getting away. 


Jeff gave the blue cat a big kiss, we took a few photos, weighed it, blessed it, and let it go to tell its story.  Congrats to Jeff for catching the first fish of the year out of Jones Landing ... a 16 pound 7 ounce blue catfish.  Oh yeah, can't wait to go again!  --Capt. Mike