"Reconsider, baby", as the old blues song goes, was what I was thinking this past weekend as Billy Ray and El Fisho Jr. and I were surf fishing at Matagorda beach. I was using my Cabela Big Water telescoping 12' surf rod, along with a Cabela's Salt Striker Spinning reel, the largest one they make, loaded with just over 300 yards of 25 lb. test yellow Cabela's Salt Striker high visibility yellow mono. I could've said "High-Vis" to be cool, but I'm not really that cool. It's high visibility under most circumstances.
The reconsideration part comes because in previous posts I have left the impression that this rod may not be up to catching larger fish. As I was setting the rod up, El Fisho Jr. reminded me of his first fish ever caught when he was 4. We were fishing a friends several acre lake on his ranch up near Brenham, and using the BIG WATER 12' rod and a good spinning or spincast reel enabled me to get baits for the monster channel cats that lived in that lake WAY OUT YONDER in the deepest part of the lake, which lay in the middle.
El Fisho Jr. had been fishing with me since he was about 2-and-a-half on a regular basis in a variety of fresh- and saltwater settings. He got pretty good at using a spincasting reel by age 3 and the BIG WATER rod with a lightweight spincast reel was easy for him to cast, despite it's length.
His first fish was caught on the BIG WATER at my friend's lake, a large channel cat that probably went between 12-15 pounds and was far longer than El Fisho Jr. was tall. Heck of a fish to catch for your first fish. The first fish I caught as a child was a sunfish that would have been weighed in ounces rather than pounds, so his catch was quite impressive. It was such an old fish, that it was instantly and properly released back in the water, and was a good opportunity to explain catch and release fishing and conservationship. It was also a good opportunity to explain how the clean a fish, although we didn't clean it, but I quickly pointed out what you did to clean a catfish.
I got to spend so much more time outdoors fishing and shooting bb guns, .22 rifles and shotguns in my youth and I learned so much outdoorsmanship in the various Scouting programs (Cub, Webelo, Boy Scouts, LE Explorers and Sea Scouts) that I was in that I try to keep El Fisho Jr. outdoors as much as possible to learn the stuff I learned as a kid. We had several places in the country not too far from Houston that my folks had bought as investments, and a big old boat,
and we often spent time outdoors fishing and shooting guns.
So I was thinking about how well that rod performed with the cranky very large channel catfish, who was not happy to be falsely tempted from his lair in the deep. He did quite a bit of thrashing on the surface as he neared shore, and put up quite a fight. I remember now looking at the way the fishing line reacted to the moderately bowed pole, and it routed straight through the guides as it should. Some rods will divert the fishing line to the side between the next to last guide and the tip guide of the rod due to poor guide placement/rod design. But I was impressed with the performance of the BIG WATER way back then, because all I had caught before on it was 1-3 lb. saltwater fish and catfish.
We didn't catch any fish on our trip to Matagorda. But "catching" is not what "fishing" is all about. There have been plenty of memorable fishing trips where I actually did do a lot of catching, but interestingly enough, some of the fishing trips where I had the most fun and that are most memorable were the ones where I caught no fish. And not for lack of trying, I might add.
As with the great book Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, it's the journey and not the destination that makes good memories and helps you grow as a person.
So I do recommend this rod for anyone seeking to catch small to medium fish in the surf, or for those in need of a good BIG rod for some freshwater catfish fishing, or for the person who needs a rod to cast a long distance into a lake or river to get to where the fish are biting. This rod is also excellent for white bass fishing in rivers like the Colorado or the Trinity (below Lake Livingston) for reaching that deep river channel that often lays in the middle of these rivers, where the white bass dwell.
Pair it up with a large Zebco 888 or 808 and you've got a simple combo that makes for some great fishing.