The real heavyweight bruisers are the carp. I've seen a few of them that looked like small submarines. If you hook up with one of them, something is going to give, unless you are in a boat and can follow them around for while. The biggest carp I've ever caught was 36 inches long, probably in the high 20-pound class. I've seen carp that made that one look small, and it took half of forever to land that one. They'll find the weak link, be it a knot, line, hook, rod or whatever. I have a feeling some of the Bower dam stories are a result of carp, but with big muskies, flatheads and even stripers caught now and then, unless you see it, you don't know for sure what you're hooked up with.
That's what makes the river interesting. Of course there are the usual bass, channel cats, walleyes, etc., but I've also seen flathead catfish, stripers, hybrid stripers, eels, gar, bowfins, most species of trout (including a lake trout) and pacu (a piranha-looking critter) caught out of the river.
You never know what might end up on the end of your line, and in the case of hellbenders, water snakes and snapping turtles, it might not even have fins. And then there are stories. I don't mind a guy catching a lantern, but when he gets it in and it's still lit.....
n Ken Maurer, Herndon, is a licensed fishing guide and a regular contributor to the Outdoor Section. Email comments to email@example.com.