I like to catch fish. Unfortunately, there are many days when I go fishing and never get so much as a nibble.
But it’s not really a waste of time. There’s something relaxing about sitting on a stool and watching things go on around you.
I know many anglers who troll the edges of structure, working hard to get bass, walleye or muskie to hit their “can’t mis” lure.
Others work mountain streams, drifting flies and hoping for trout.
Here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, there is very little trout fishing. The local streams get too warm to sustain trout populations.
So, as Otis Redding once sang, you’ll find me sitting on a dock, wasting time.
It seems to me that there are always good fish living under the dock, so maybe I shouldn’t cast out so far, but instead try under the dock.
John Dino and I were walking along the stretch of Little Chartiers Creek below Canonsburg dam and couldn’t help but stop every once in a while and peer into the water. The creek was in its usual low-water mode, but John stopped and dropped a worm into a nice pocked of water just below his feet.
He immediately was onto a 19-inch bass. Sometimes it pays to to fish in close, rather than casting out to the farthest point.
Another evening, I found myself fishing on a private water with nightcrawlers. I was at peace with the world when I suddenly found my line attached to a very strong fish,
I had come to this place semi-prepared. I had brought a fairly stiff rod and a reel with a good drag. The reel was filled with 10-pound line.
After playing this big fellow for five-plus minutes, my partner slipped the net under a 16-pound channel cat.
I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those people who were sitting at home watching a reality shot on TV.
Few things make me feel better than a rod bent to the extreme by a large fish, coupled with a drag that is turning more than is wanted. That is when you have to place a finger on the turning spool to get a bit more resistance before the fish strips the spool.
I caught three 5-pound cats, one 10-pounder and another over 15 pounds that evening. That was a great outing.
Because I was on private ground, I won’t name the place, but I am sure there are plenty of big channel cats to be found in private waters. The Monongahela River south from the mouth of Ten Mile Creek south to the state line would be one great example.
Last year, John hooked and landed a 7-pound cat near Greensboro, and I have sat near Rices Landing and caught cat after cat.
Fishing is not dead. Anglers just need to change methods and the type of fish they are trying to catch.
When looking for a place to fish, don’t forget Ten Mile Creek itself. The stretch between the mouth and Clarksvile offers easy access and holds some big fish.
Every year I also hear people talking about a really big channel cat in Canonsburg Lake. The best area to fish for these big cats is the upper part of the lake between Galley Road and the bridge that crosses the lake.
The fish will be under some of the debri during the day and then move out into open water to feed when the sun goes down.
Good catfish bait would include worms, minnows and chicken liver.
Catfish have a far better sense of smell than other fish, so the stinkier the bait, the better.
• Don’t forget there will be a gun show, sponsored by ARH Sports Shop, Saturday and July 27 at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoor column for the Observer-Reporter.