The mystery of the catfish puncture wounds

Catfish action is winding down for the season with the onset of cooler weather and falling water temperatures, but there still may be a few more days to do battle with the whiskered brutes that roam the Red River — especially with weekend forecasts that call for highs in the 70s.

Puncture wounds cover the side of a catfish caught recently on the Red River near Grand Forks. Could it be the work of a large northern pike?

Puncture wounds cover the side of a catfish caught recently on the Red River near Grand Forks. Could it be the work of a large northern pike?

Kent Hollands of Grand Forks shared a photo of a catfish he caught the other day on the Red near Grand Forks. The side of the fish shown in the photo is peppered with small puncture holes and a larger wound near the tail that obviously is bleeding.

Hollands speculates a big pike attacked the catfish, and that’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. Big northerns definitely inhabit the Red, and I’ve heard of the fish swallowing prey as large as adult ducks.

I’m at a loss to explain what else would have inflicted so many puncture wounds on the side of the catfish, but it obviously survived the ordeal well enough to take the bait Hollands put in front of it.

One things for sure, it’s a cruel world down there in the Red’s murky depths.

Drayton girl wins local catfish tournament

A 10-year-old girl took first place in the Whopper category Saturday during the annual Rod and Reel Rally Catfishing Tournament in Drayton, N.D.

Kiara Aasand, 10, Drayton, N.D., landed a 19.2-pound catfish Saturday to win the Drayton Rod and Reel Rally Catfishing Tournament. The man helping her hold the fish isn't identified.

Kiara Aasand, 10, Drayton, N.D., landed a 19.2-pound catfish Saturday to win the Drayton Rod and Reel Rally Catfishing Tournament. Helping her hold the fish is tournament weigh-in official Pete Marciniak. (Drayton Community Chamber of Commerce photo)

Kiara Aasand, 10, of Drayton, landed a 35.75-inch, 19.9-pound catfish to land big fish honors and a check for $1,600. According to a news release from the Drayton Community Chamber of Commerce, she beat out 104 other anglers in 41 boats to win the tournament.

Other anglers finishing in the money were:

Second: Ronald Line, Park River, N.D., 34.25 inches, 17.2 pounds, $750.

Third: Bill Murray, East Grand Forks, 35.25 inches, 17.2 pounds, $400.

Fourth: Michael Peterson, Grand Forks, 34.5 inches, 16.2 pounds, $250.

Fifth: Tanner Anderson, Drayton, 33 inches, 16.1 pounds, $175.

Sixth: Brooks Pederson, West Fargo, N.D., 34.5 inches, 16.1 pounds, $125.

In the “Slot” category, for catfish smaller than 24 inches, Matt Nelson of Webster, N.D., landed a 23.75-inch, 4.9-pound fish to win $200. Mike Andrews of Grafton, N.D., landed the second-biggest slot with a 23.5-inch, 4.8-pound catfish to win $100.

Gabe Pederson of West Fargo, N.D., took the “Weenie” category with a 7-inch catfish that earned him $60.

Video marks River Keepers’ 25th anniversary

River Keepers, the Fargo-Moorhead group that serves as an advocate for the Red River, is marking its 25th anniversary this year.

To commemorate the milestone, Bailey Aanenson of River Keepers produced a video about the group’s accomplishments and how they’ve helped change public perceptions of the Red River from being a place to avoid to a place to embrace.

Interviewed for the video, Bob Backman, former executive director of River Keepers, had this to say:

“The big thing River Keepers has worked on as an overriding goal would be the attitude change,” Backman says in the video. “So with the help of many people, I think every little project that River Keepers has undertaken has had a significant impact in helping our community, elected leaders, as well as the average citizen, understand the river better.”

I’ve had the opportunity to work with River Keepers on a number of stories about the river, including the 2000 Red River Millennium Canoe Tour in which freelance writer Jim Vickery paddled from the source of the river at Wahpeton-Breckenridge to Lake Winnipeg. Several people joined him on various legs of the tour, and I had a chance to paddle the first two days, finishing at Georgetown, Minn., if I remember correctly.

Thanks to the work of River Keepers, there’ve been a lot of positive changes on the Red River in the past quarter century. You can check out the video here.