SUP Angler vs. Channel Catfish
by James Setvin
It was a blue sky Saturday morning in Florida. At 6:30, I launched my paddleboard on the canal off of US 192 connecting Alligator lake with Lake Lizzy east of St. Cloud. I was rigged up for bluegill SUP fishing; I'd spotted them starting to make beds a couple weeks earlier.
You can easily spot bluegill along the canal and around just about everyone's boat dock - big cleared out patches cleared away by bedding fish. For gear, I was using slip bobber rigs with red worms and also fly fishing with a cheap pole I'd bought at a garage sale.
It wasn't long before I found some nice copperhead bluegill; they jumped all over a cheap white fly from an assortment pack.
That was when I felt it.
My board started getting pulled through the water. My reel started screaming as line whipped out. The bobber was nowhere to be found, and I was getting pulled into the weeds. It took a good fight to find out what was on the other end of my line - it was a nine pound channel catfish.
I got the fish onto the paddleboard. Then, while I was taking pictures of me and the fish, it got a sudden burst of energy and slapped me across the face with its tail. I dropped my phone into the water out of surprise; as it was going down, I could see the picture I'd just taken still on the screen.
I jumped off my board and got in the chest-deep water to look for my phone, feeling for it along the bottom with my feet. The fish was on my stringer on the board. A moment later, I noticed my board moving away from me. I grabbed the board and heard the distinct sound of chain clinking along the back of the board. In the mayhem of being slapped by the fish and losing my phone in the murky water, I hadn't secured the stringer.
Not only did the fish get away, but he took my good stringer with him. If a fish could laugh, I knew he was chuckling as he disappeared. Fortunately, my silver lining was that my phone and the pictures I'd taken survived thanks to Uncle Ben and his fabulous rice!