The Story of the Trash Fish King

So, it has been a few years since the Trash Fish Saga began. I'm not 100% on a few of the details, but I'm sure Zach will help straighten them out for me. With that being said, let me tell the story of the Trash Fish and how it all started.

At the time, my family was firmly ensconced in entrepreneurship. We owned a small family pizza restaurant in our hometown. On the fateful day(I think it was a Wednesday, but I'm not sure), business was booming and somehow we ran out of cheese! So what's a guy to do when work is closing early during the middle of the summer? Go fishing of course!

I sent some messages to Zach, figured out a spot we were going to go fishing and...left work to go home, grab my gear, and THEN head to the agreed upon fishing spot. Zach was unaware of the extra steps, so he made straight for the fishing spot, looking to catch some carp on the fly. Spoiler Alert: he didn't.

I finally arrived after a madcap dash through the curving roads of Southern Ohio, pulling my car into the roadside pull off near where we are fishing. Gearing up, I quickly made my way down the trail to the water. Overhead, the highway was an ever present source of noise as the river was at the bottom of a small gorge. In the distance thunder rumbled, heralding an evening of thunderstorms, but we had plenty of time to fish right?!

To set the scene, we are hip deep in water, to our left is a gentle slope to the water and to our right, aside from the trail from the parking area, a rock wall begins to slowly climb towards a large rocky cliff. The bottom of the river is solid rock with the occasional gravel bars and piles of rocks. Being the middle of the summer the water was a little murky, and a little low, but clarity wasn't terrible allowing us to watch the carp and sheephead (freshwater drum) swim around us in pods of 5-6 fish. All in all, I was impressed.

This was the first time I had been to this particular spot and in the years since, it has become one of my absolute favorite wading spots. On our Facebook page, I even posted pictures from the most successful fishing trip I had this year, choc full of fish pulled from the local river. In the heat and humidity of the late summer, nothing helps keep it at bay quite like wading and fishing.

Having arrived much later than intended, armed with none other than a trusty Zebco 11 micro rod and reel, I argued away the lateness with Zach. One thing I wasn't truly aware of at the time was the size of fish that I could potentially be catching in this body of water, this oversight would come into play later. The majority of the fishing trip was truly forgettable, not much biting, not much exploration done, oh and the thunderstorm bearing down on us. If you have never experienced a mid-summer storm in Southern Ohio, I don't recommend it. They can show up right on top of you, without a moment's notice and seem rather nasty in general, or amount to nothing and threaten the horizon all day. Sometimes if you are truly unlucky, you get a nasty combination of the two, a storm that stays on the horizon, shouting threats all day until pouncing when you least expect it. In my fish hungry mind, that storm was the horizon threatening kind and that was the end of it. Little did I know, Mother Nature had other plans.

As the evening wore on and Zach became more nervous about the storm. He was carrying a nine and a half foot fly rod, but that's beside the point. The decision to leave as the evening wound down was one any fisherman is unhappy about. As we approached the parking area on the right side of the river there was a nice rock pile that extended into a nice little point under the water. Ever hungry for smallmouth bass, I threw my Rebel Wee Craw as far as I could towards the end of the rocks. As I began the retrieve, WHAM! A bite! Immediately followed by the insides of my poor Zebco reel screaming for it's life as something ferocious and hungry on the other end stripped line from the spool. Unsure what kinda freshwater monster had my lure, knowing that I only had four pound test, my adrenaline spiked to say the least.

Being unable to horse this fish to shore would normally have been a standard part of any fishing trip, but it was at that moment the storm decided to rear it's ugly head. The already darkening twilight grew ever darker still, the sky turning an angry black and blue, lightning began flashing, the thunder an almost ever present rumble. Fighting and landing this fish became more important, seeing as we were hip deep in water holding fiberglass lightning rods. As the fish tired ever so slowly, creeping closer and closer to me, my patience was wearing thin and the storm threatened to make me lose my cool.

Finally after a tense fight, fear from the storm ever present, I landed the fish and immediately began struggling to unhook the tiny crankbait. The large freshwater drum had INHALED the entire bait and all six point of the two small treble hooks were firmly embedded in the fishes mouth. Having fought with the hooks for a bit longer than I was comfortable, for my safety and the health of the fish, I asked Zach for help. Maintaining my hold on the fish, Zach gripped the pliers and wrenched the crankbait from the fishes mouth, straightening the hooks and DESTROYING my crankbait. "I'll buy you another stupid crankbait, we gotta go!" Zach yelled at me. After a few quick pictures, a safe release, and a hurried rush out, we made it to our cars. Packing our gear in and driving away, we were safe and a legacy started.

Since that fateful trip, Zach has hated trash fish (sheephead or freshwater drum), and I have taken great joy in every single one that I catch!

As well as I can put it to paper, here is the Trash Fish story. Remember to always stay safe and be aware of any weather situations while fishing, and give some appreciation to the trash fish out there!

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