As I pulled the truck through the gates at the Ft. Worth Anglers Club, organized back in 1938, and got my first glimpse of Eagle Mountain Lake, I was a bit taken back in time.
Once on the grounds, I could “feel” the spirit of all the old time catfishermen that are, and have been, members of the club. The club house, boat ramp and RV sites are maintained the way many of us try to maintain our own lawns: immaculately!
A week or so before the trip, I spent time on the telephone with Brother Terry Terry, who guides on the lake when he is not evangelizing somewhere across the country.
Yes, BOTH his first and last names are Terry. Most folks just call the enthusiastic Baptist evangelistic Brother Terry.
After spending an afternoon and morning fishing with Brother Terry, it became quiet obvious he is not only a great man of God, but a great sport and fishing guide as well.
After a brief “howdy do session” back at his camper, we were easing out from the dock at the Ft. Worth Anglers Club. Just past the no wake buoys, Terry shut the motor down and he, “Catfish Gold” staff member Dubb Wallace, and I had a word of prayer in which he gave thanks for the beautiful day, a great place to fish and hopefully a heavy stringer of catfish at the end of the trip.
As we motored toward an isolated mid-lake hump that Terry’s GPS was pointing the way to, we chatted about what our time in the outdoors has meant. Terry grew up fishing and hunting and when he first entered the ministry over a decade ago he had some issues about continuing to devote time to his lifelong love of the outdoor sports.
“Through the years, God has shown me a way to turn my love of the outdoors into a way to reach others and spread the good news of Jesus Christ,” Terry said. “My time is now spent preaching across the country and guiding fishing trips. Neither seem like work to me. I consider both to be a calling that somehow blend perfectly together.”
As we neared the hump, I watched the graph begin to point out the grade change on the leeward side of the hump. The contour rose abruptly from water about 32 feet to 12 feet, remained constant or flat for 50 yards then fell into deeper water on the windward side.
We were on top of a big flat that fell into deep water: prime waters for baiting a hole with soured grain!
Terry tossed out a marker buoy right on the submerged break and we motored upwind and eased the anchor over. The boat came about right on the ledge.
The graph plotted a big pod of baitfish and there were numerous hooks marking close to bottom, some on top of the ledge and some just below. These were obviously catfish hanging on the structure, probably feeding on injured shad the schools of white bass were chasing.
We could occasionally see shad being driven to the surface by a school of white bass below. Catfish, especially blues and flatheads, are quiet adept at catching their own dinner but whiskerfish are also genetically programmed to live off the land. Find a school of feeding white bass and you can bet your best landing net there will be catfish below!
We soon had a few coffee cans full of soured maize in the water and had treble hooks baited with Danny King’s Catfish Punch Bait dangling a few inches up from bottom.
With a couple of hours to fish before dark, we had plenty of time to catch a nice mess of channel and blue catfish that were just right for eating, most weighing between 1.5 and two pounds. We were not using floaters in the deeper water but I was wishing for a slip floater such as a Bobber Stop. The catfish were on a soft bite, we kidded because of the moon phase or several other reasons.
In truth, the catfish bite is sometimes subtle, even for bigger fish. Other times, even a two-pounder will nail a bait hard enough to make you think you will need the net!
After a word of thanks from Brother Terry after the trip, we were motoring back to the Ft. Worth Anglers Club just as the sun sank over the western horizon.
My good friend Dubb Wallace and I often do the camp cooking chores when I’m on story assignments and we dined in fine style on fajitas made from the breast meat of a wild turkey gobbler I harvested back in the spring season.
Five o’clock came quickly the next morning. It doesn’t take long to spend the night when talk of hunting big deer and catching big catfish is the centerpiece of conservation!
Terry is on the pro staff of Buck Ventures Outdoors (www.buckventuresoutdoors.com) and he shares my passion for hunting. By midnight, we had wound down enough on the hunting talk to fall asleep.
Terry is all about taking kids and older folks fishing and showing them how to enjoy the outdoors. At the dock the next morning, he met a gentleman, Robert, who had been fishing most of the night and had only one smallish catfish to show for his efforts. He invited Robert to join us for a morning of fishing, as he often does.
“I just love taking kids or anyone that would appreciate the trip fishing and showing them there’s more to enjoy in life than TV and video games,” Terry said. “I used to be a youth minister for many years and learned that there is no better way of getting to know someone quickly than time spent out on the water.”
We had plenty of “eater” catfish from the previous evening trip and our goal was to go not only for numbers this morning, but some bigger blues as well.
Many folks think that the only time to catch big blues in reservoirs is during the dead of winter when the water is cold, but we regularly catch blue catfish during the summer months by targeting them with big pieces of fresh cut shad.
Granted, more big blues are landed during the cool weather months, but they don’t disappear during the summer. It’s tough to beat the non-stop action on smaller catfish this time of year, but by keeping a couple rods rigged with fresh shad, it’s usually possible to catch a big fish or two.
After an hour or so of snatching “fryer” catfish from near bottom, one of Terry’s blue catfish reels began clicking and a steady tightening of the line threaded the circle hook in the corner of the big blue’s mouth.
We returned to dock around mid-morning, just before the sun began to really heat things up. The trip had been a huge success. We had plenty of catfish for everyone to take back home for big family fish fries, we’d made a new friend we just met that morning and, more importantly, we had enjoyed some great fellowship in a setting second to none: God’s great outdoors.
On the return trip to dock, I thought just how fortunate Brother Terry was to find his perfect niche in life.
To book a trip with Brother Terry on Eagle Mountain Lake or Lake Bridgeport, or schedule him to come to your church and conduct a service relating to the outdoors, often in conjunction with a wild game dinner, call 940-577-1238, go online to www.creatorsguideservice.com
Check out Luke Clayton’s Outdoors Radio show at www.catfishgold.com