Lake Ferguson is home to many species of fish including, bream, crappie, catfish and largemouth bass but there’s a new fighting fish that tops them all, if you can tempt one into hitting your lure. And that’s just what we aimed to do on a recent trip to the world famous oxbow lake. Terry Bates and I recently hit the water in search of a freshwater tarpon, or “flying fish” that has now become quite famous, or maybe even notorious for their jumping ability. If you’re not careful you might just become a victim of the silver sided fish that flies through the air.
Bates pulled his Ranger boat up near a shelf on the edge of the river lake near a grain loading dock and we immediately detected activity all around the loading bins. Huge fish were thrashing the surface and wallowing like tarpons. I hadn’t a clue as to what they were at first, but was about to find out shortly.
Bates and I both tied on small jigging spoons and pitched them out letting them sink all the way to the bottom. “Mike the shelf is 12 to 14 feet deep along the edge and it drops out of sight just a few feet from here,” said Bates. Evidently the area was full of freshwater tarpon and they were making themselves known to all in attendance, as you just can’t miss 30 to 40 pound fish jumping, thrashing and wallowing on the surface of the lake.
After the spoons hit bottom we pumped the spoon in a jigging motion and let it flutter slowly back to the bottom. After about ten minutes of moving around the ledge looking for fish I pitched out again, let the spoon flutter to the bottom and popped it up with a couple of jerks.
Wham! A fish hit it and almost took the rod out of my hands. I set the hook on the Revo Spinning Reel and Volatile rod combo. As soon as I hit the fish I was stopped dead and thought I’d hung a stump as I didn’t even move it one iota. But suddenly the stump exploded through the water like a torpedo and all I could do was hold on, as it kept taking line off of my reel.
For the next 20 minutes it was nip and tuck and it was all I could do to hold on and keep from getting my line broken. I had 10 pound P-Line on the lightweight combo and the rig couldn’t stand much pressure with the light line.
“Those big fish have started hitting the spoon,” Bates said. “They probably fight better than any other freshwater fish, they’re right up there with a saltwater redfish.” It took nearly 20 minutes to get the fish close enough to glimpse its streamlined silver body just as it spotted the boat and dove downward swimming for the bottom again.
Time after time the fish came towards the boat and veered off. With aching muscles, teamed with grit and determination I was adamant about getting this monster fish into the boat. It would be another 10 minutes before I got a glimpse of the fish again.
The powerful fish fought with every last ounce of his strength as he made several diversions right at the boat, veering away from the waiting net each time.
Finally, thankfully, I led the fish to the net and quickly brought him into the boat. After a couple of photos we released him back into the water. We had neither a livewell or fish box big enough to handle a fish so large.
The silver carp is a species of freshwater cyprinid fish, a variety of Asian carp native to north and northeast Asia. It is also cultivated in China and surprisingly, more silver carp are produced worldwide in aquaculture than any other species. Originally introduced into the U. S. in the 1970’s this fish has now become widespread in the Mississippi River Waterway system and is a danger to boaters, and jet skiers alike as they will jump when startled by boats, injuring many people around the country in the process.
If you’re looking for the fight of your life, then you might pay a visit to Lake Ferguson and try your hand at catching a freshwater tarpon, or flying fish, otherwise known as a silver carp. But bring along extra gear because they’ve been known to break rods and strip gears from reels!
Contact Mike Giles at 601-917-3898
or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org