When a log ain't no log, or birthdays

can be OK.

There is one day each year I try to avoid, but come what may, it gets here. That day is my birthday. If anything bad can happen, it will happen on that day. When I was five, the boy next door pushed me out of a tree at my birthday party, broke my collarbone. I have had a gall bladder operation on my birthday, my first wife and I split about that time, and my second wife told me it was not working anymore that day. At least the she and I have worked things out.

Anyway, usually, if I can, I just stay in bed or very close to the house on my birthday. Monday was that day. However, I forgot and went fishing. My choice of area to fish was the West Fork of the San Jacinto, on Lake Houston, out of Kingwood’s River Grove Park. Without regard for the day, I loaded up the truck and headed out.

It takes me about 4 minutes to get to River Grove. In that time, I never thought about it being August 21, it was just another Monday. , I hoped for a good day. Normally, I do not fish out of River Grove because its ski boat and jet ski heaven. The kids are back in school and I thought, well, maybe, it would be O. K. Got to the boat ramp, unloaded the kayak and gear, and went to casting for bait. That should have told me something then. I could not buy a shad or bream for 30 minutes, despite casting several different places where I always get them. Finally, I found a place where I could easily wade into the creek and cast from a sand bar. Damn if instead of bream or shad, I didn’t start catching drum in my net. Caught three drum, all over 1.5 lbs. I think I caught one of the drum twice. My little old knife just was not up to the task of filleting drum and Tilapia for bait.

After another 30 minutes, I had 5 nice bream and 12 shad of various sizes, plus one small carp. So, I went fishing. I paddled up to the W. Lake Houston Bridge, a distance of about three miles. The water there goes up to 19 ft deep and I thought I might pick up a nice catfish or two in nearby waters or on a float rig. However, I only caught a couple of small cats. Then, I set up to drift my way back toward River Grove.

Boy, was it ever slow. I caught a couple of 15” catfish, kept them for the fry pan. By about 1 pm, I had eaten my sandwich, drank three diet cokes and about a pint of Gator Aid. One has to keep hydrated. I kept drifting, deciding to give it another 30 minutes or so. Passed the power lines, I once read that power lines attract catfish, no go for me though. So, continued my drift. Then, I hung up. As I had three lines out, and it can get nasty trying to get one un-hung with others in the water, I started reeling them in. My spinning rod with the float was no problem. Then, I started reeling in the rod not hung up, or at least, I thought it free. However, it would not move. I put a big bow in the rod trying to get it loose.

Finally, what felt like a good size log began coming my way, but it was slow going? I pumped the rod, and it would come a bit more, pumped a bit more and I would make more headway. I got what I thought was a small log up to about 20 feet away from the kayak. Then, it started moving away from me. I checked the lake for current; there was no current to carry the log. I looked to see if the wind had picked up, but no wind. I pulled back on the rod, just in case that the log was a fish and began pumping the rod. It was slow going, but finally got the log to within just a few feet. I would put some power into the rod, then the log would move forward a bit. I moved the log closer, and it would go deeper. As I got it closer to the kayak, all hell broke loose. The damn log dove for the bottom the lake. Finally, I got the better of the log and it moved my way. When it broke water, it was a big damn catfish. It may not have been the biggest catfish in the lake, but a nice one all the same. Got him to the side of the kayak and asked myself “What am I going to do?” He was too big to just swing into the boat, or to grab under the belly and lift as I usually do. Thought a minute and grabbed my fish basket, led the catfish into the basket and got him. It was a blue catfish. I estimated him, with an angler’s eyes, to at least 12 pounds and 30 inches long.

A few minutes later, caught a 5-pound catfish and, with hope, kept fishing for a while longer. The gar finally ate up the last of my bait and I paddled back to the launch. Mr.

Catfish turned out to be slightly more than 26 inches long, or close to 9 lbs. Damn those angler’s eyes. All told, I brought home six fish. Not much in the way of numbers, but the two large ones made up for that.

I did not realize it was my birthday until I got home, the wife said Happy Birthday, and there were presents from each of my son on my chair. Despite the travails, it turned into a nice day after all. Maybe not all birthdays are bad days.

Good story
My largest largemouth bass is the same deal. I thought it was a snag too, until it swam. Wasn’t as big as that catfish though. It was 23" and roughly 5lbs.

  • Big D

Good Story
Fishing is like life. One minute you think you have everything in control and the next all hell breaks loose.


Big D, if the length/weight chart I use
is correct, you an upgrade the weight on that largemouth to over 7.


I had a tape handy for length (have one taped down to my 'yak) but my scale was stuffed away. Based on previous experience at that lake, I didn’t expect anything big that trip. Didn’t want to keep the fish out of water long enough to pull out the scale. Biggest largemouth I’ve ever had to hand, that’s for sure.

  • Big D

Largemouth bass are squatty creatures,
the get broad more rapidly than long. Sorta like me.

Hey, happy belated birthday
Sounds like a good one.

I think the bad luck got delayed.
Tuesday, I broke a rod , lost my stringer of fish 3 times…bad tie to kayak, but did have a piece of pool noodle on the stringer so was able to recover, dropped my fishing knive overboard, and unclipped my drift sock to untangle a line, let go of the sock, and bye-bye. Oh, forgot that the battery for my depth finder dropped on the driveway when I was putting away my stuff into the truck tool box (great invention, truck tool boxes) and backed over the battery. Its stll working, but looks like its been in Guantanamo.

Happy Birthday!
Good story. I have to share with you that I too have a stay in bed day. It’s 16 days away from my birthday and has usually been the source of similar personal calamity, Nov. 8. Some years the day is OK and some it turns into a real rabbit hole. (“Rabbit Hole” my expression for a place or time of unusual happenings. A bar I used to hang out at I nick-named the Rabbit Hole for its many strange evenings. Where’s Alice and the white rabbit?)