July 19, 2021
Dog-day muggy in the middle of September. A damp, breathless swelter incites anger in the biting flies. The sun roasts your neck, while the boat floor burns like a wok. Through it all, the river’s flow conceals a quiet, primal pulse fueled by the incandescent orb above—a force that energizes metabolic machines known as catfish.
For its relatively small size, the Red River of the North has legions of enormous channel catfish. After boating the fifth 20-pounder inside an hour, you find yourself pondering how this river can contain such a mass of life; how it breeds enough food to sate the glutinous appetites of its apex predator; and that a single small brushpile can...