Since we had a wedding to go to on Saturday afternoon, we were worried that fishing and outdoors activities might fall by the wayside this weekend.
We had a hotel room for Saturday night after the festivities, but we checked out a little before 11 Sunday morning and were back in Madison before one. It was a pretty sticky day out, but we did some yard work, and futzed with the old Mercury some more. At some point in the mid-afternoon, we decided on bowfishing instead of going back out to catfish some more. It being the solstice, the wait for nightfall seemed interminable. While we waited we did some honest to goodness planning for this trip to Texas, something we’ve been meaning to do for months now.
Anyhow. Dark came, and we packed up and headed out. I neglected to bring my camera or the video cameras, and at first I was pretty bummed. However, as soon as Matt fired up the generator, I wasn’t sorry any more. Some sort of insect is hatching from the lakebed. Tiny winged things all over, even at head height for me and Matt ( five and six feet, respectively). They were attracted to the lights, it was miserable. I was breathing them in, they were in my ears, up my nose, in my eyes, I had bugs in my everywhere. Eventually Matt and I stopped talking to keep them out of our mouths. To top it off, the water was too murky to see more than a few inches. Possibly an algae bloom, but we’ve also had a few days in a row of hot, windy weather, with southwest winds. We were on the northern end of the water. The old Merc still didn’t want to start, which is troubling on its own, so we couldn’t test out the southern end of the lake.
We trolled a little ways toward the north along the shore. In about 3 feet or less of water, we could make out the gravel on the bottom. We saw plenty of little painted turtles- they chase after the boat lights and dive down to attack the trolling motors, which never fails to utterly slay me with cuteness. It didn’t take long for us to turn the boat and head to an area along the western shore, south of the boat launch. The water was still murky, but this side has a steeper slope, and to be in two or three feet here meant being maybe 5 feet from shore. There were quite a few felled trees in the water, forcing us to zig-zag down the shore and back up.
I typically man the front trolling motor; behind me I heard Matt shoot over the noise of the generator. Somehow, he’d caught the movement of a carp in the water. Astounded, I turned to see him dumping it into our carp bin. It was the only one I saw all night, though Matt said he saw at least two more carp shapes in the murk. I still don’t know how he managed to hit it.
After being up till the wee hours the night before, we were too tired to weigh or measure this thing before we hit the showers and went to bed. Cleaning it this morning though, I discovered we did our lake a small service- this was a spawning female. The entire body cavity was full of eggs. So much so that all the other organs except the swim bladders were shrunken down. My dogs are pretty gross and love smoked carp, so this thing is smoking now to feed to them.
Besides the motor not working, this trip was miraculously free of mishaps. The trailer and boat are both in one piece, and there was no need to call a flatbed to get everything home. I’m calling that a win.
Sometime soon, I want to find out if Madison has anywhere to dispose of these things. Cleaning carp is no easy task, given how thick their scales are, and the number of bones. It’s even more of a hassle on the nights we get more than one or two.
Otherwise, any readers who may hail from Texas, feel free to recommend saltwater fishing guides, gar fishing guides, and hog hunting guides! We’re thinking of heading to the Houston-Galveston area, and I contacted a few businesses in the area. Matt’s timeshare has a hotel we could use down there, which would be a nice break for a night from sleeping in the camper.