Thursday, July 24, 2008

Spoonbill Fishing of Years Ago

The last tornado that went through Oklahoma wiped out a very large portion of the little town of Pitcher,Oklahoma where I spent alot of my childhood time at my grandparents homes. Though both my grandparents on both sides had passed on some years ago I still have relatives living in Oklahoma. As I watched the news that night of the devastating disaster of the tornado, I quickly found myself thinking back of when I would go down to the Neosho river in March fishing for spoonbill catfish. I would at times spend the better part of a morning casting a heavy 5 oz. sinker with a no.6 trebble hook from a 12 ft. Diawa rod and reel with 30 lb. test line trying to snatch one of the big monsters that circled in-front of the dam waiting for the water to rise up over the dam so they could move upstream to spawn. Many mornings I would catch my fish and be back home by 10:00 and even though the limit back then was 5 fish with no culling, I only took 3 fish to ensure the future of the fish population survived.
We had people who would come down during the run of the spoonbill catfish with buckets and pockets full of money just waiting for some fisherman to catch one of the large females of which carried large black eggs. These onlookers would buy the fish from the fisherman ( usually for $200.00 ) for the eggs which was turned into caviar ( imitation of coarse ). After the eggs were extracted from the fishes belly by knife, the fish was discarded to the ground and fair game for anyone that wanted it for the meat. This practice lead to the downfall of the spoonbill catfish population and within two years the limits were changed to 3 fish and wardens patrolled the river banks during the spoonbill catfish runs. It's been many years since I had the opportunity to go fishing for spoonbill even though we have them here in Tennessee, but I still get excited just thinking about the fun and pleasure I had as a child fishing for them in Oklahoma. Many of the fish I caught would weigh in the range of 35-75 lbs. and I never sold a single fish to anyone.