Carp spearing makes for an exciting evening

My two boys, ages 8 and 5, had no idea what they were in for when I told them I was taking them carp spearing earlier this week.
Matt DeYoung
Apr 7, 2012

To be honest, neither did I.

It’s been years, maybe even decades, since I’ve gone carp spearing with my dad in front of his house on Millhouse Bayou.

Twenty minutes into our adventure, I was hoisting a huge thrashing golden-brown carp into the boat, and the two little guys were glad they’d come along with dad instead of sitting at home watching another episode of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

There were plenty of “Oohs” and “Aahhs” as I trained my headlamp on the husky fish with its dull dark eyes, its huge curving scales and that odd-looking sucker-style mouth on the bottom of its face.

“This is awesome!” they yelled. “I can’t believe you got one!”

That makes three of us.

For the first 15-plus minutes, our likelihood of boating a big carp wasn’t looking good.

We don’t have the fancy high-tech set-up that you sometimes see cruising the shorelines after dark in the spring and summer months. Those rigs may have large fans propelling them across the dark water with giant lights that illuminate the water for yards in every direction.

We go a simpler route, hanging a propane lantern over the back of our old rowboat  with a piece of aluminum wrapped around the back to focus the light out over the water. We use long wooden pole with a pair of duckbill-shaped metal attachments on the end to quietly propel the boat through the shallows.

The problem is, the old lantern doesn’t throw off much light, so it’s a huge challenge to see the fish before the light, the boat, or both, spook the fish.

At first, we saw nothing but a few bluegills, a largemouth bass or two, and a couple little turtles. For the boys, that was enough to bring a smile to their faces.

Then we started getting into some big fish. We finally saw our first carp, which had tucked down into some weeds and somehow didn’t notice the 14-foot boat gliding up behind him. My spear lodged lethally in his back, and moments later, the spear was bending under the weight of the hefty fish as I lifted him into the boat.

The boys’ eyes were as wide as the fish’s gaping mouth.

As I was shaking that first carp off the spear and into the large tub sitting in the middle of the boat, two more carp came cruising leisurely by. I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot at either of them, but moments later, another carp appeared at the edge of the light. This one boiled away moments before the spear lodged into the muddy bottom of the bayou.

After shaking the weeds and the mud off the spear, I looked down and saw a dogfish, its long dorsal fin rippling rhythmically atop its back. The dogfish also managed to escape death by darting off just as the spear splashed into the water.

We kept moving along the shoreline, and soon came upon what looked to be a big rock lying on the muddy bottom. Then we noticed the rock had a tail, legs, and a big triangular-shaped head — a snapping turtle the size of a basketball that never budged as the boat glided quietly past.

The action quieted down significantly after that. We didn’t see another carp the rest of the evening, and returned to the shore shortly after 10 p.m.

I’m not sure what the boys were more excited about — seeing all those fish, turtles and everything else, or staying up more than an hour past their bedtimes.

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