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The bulls are learning


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Had a very strange day on a southern watershed. I’ve had many bulls chase fish I’ve hooked and even had a couple latch on for a while, but never anything like this. I hooked a fair sized cutt (about 15 inches is my guess) and as I was playing him towards me I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and a very large bull rushed up the current (fairly shallow water) and hit him sideways. There was actually a wake in the water and it looked and felt like a shark hitting its prey. I was shocked because this wasn’t your typical small cut/white that bulls chase and this also wasn’t your typical looking bull. He was a tank…. A junk-yard dog of a bull. I’ve never seen one that wide before. Truly a fresh water shark look. Despite that, the cutt was not small either and I was sure he would release it or the cutt would shake himself free shortly. When that didn’t happen I tried to help the cutt by pulling on the line gently but that bull was not letting go and was starting to chomp on the cutt and work him around to get him head-first. I pulled the two of them over right next to me with as much force as I thought the 6 weight could handle and then reached down and grabbed the bull in front of the tail, thinking the shock of this would surely make him release and run for cover. Didn’t bother him at all and he continued to reposition the cutt and started to swallow him head first. I really started to panic at this point because I realized not only was the cutt going to die, but the hook in the cutt was already into the bull’s mouth and would be ingested by him (can’t imagine how that would work out for him). So, I pulled the bull’s tail straight up out of the water as much as I could one-handed (rod in the other hand) and when he still didn’t let go I started gently booting the bull with one leg. This still didn’t phase him and by this time all I could see of the cutt was the end of his tail. There was nothing else I could do and he was very heavy so I released my grip and the bull swam across to a big log jam, breaking my line in the process, to digest his meal. I don’t think he was much over 30 inches in length but I estimate his weight to be about 15 pounds. I’ve caught 30 inch Atlantic salmon that go 10 pounds but they are slim ballerinas compared to this guy. Interesting thing is that I had the impression that he had done this before and had sidled up close to me when he saw me fishing in anticipation of a free meal. The really strange thing is that, 90 minutes later on another river in the same watershed, the exact same thing happened to me again. Smaller cut (12 inches) and smaller bull (maybe 10 pounds) and this time I got the cut free in a few seconds and he swam away with the bull giving up pursuit quickly. The bull then moved up to position himself about 20 feet downstream of the tip of my rod and just sat there in the crystal clear shallow water at the tail-out of the pool, just waiting. I moved  towards him and he moved off a little… I moved back and he re-assumed his position. Call me crazy, but I think those bull’s have learned that fisherman mean a free meal and positioned themselves close to me and just waited. I moved upstream to get away from the situation and was leery every time I caught a fish for the rest of the day. Not sure how that bull will end up with a size 14 hook in his digestive system.   

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