On a small lake in east Texas recently, I spent the morning fishing with a fellow that is, at his core, a bass fishermen, and a darned good one at that; but we were fishing for catfish.
Why, you are wondering about now, would a self professed black bass “nut” and lure company owner spend time catfishing? FUN is the primary reason but GOOD EATS is another!
John Barnes is the owner of Strike King Lure Company. Strike King has for the past 40 years or so, been a leader in designing and producing lures for bass fishermen. If you turn to page 6 of their current catalog, you’ll see the entire page devoted to their line of catfish catching products that range from dip worms to dip baits to their “Huckleberry” that is actually a container for the Dynamite Paste with a hook built in.
John Barnes has become a catfisherman. I know, I was there on that little lake yesterday when he “guided” me to some of the hottest catfish action I have experienced in a long time.
“Look at that rascal bend the rod,” he said as his fishing rod bowed heavily toward the lake’s surface and I scrambled for the net.
The blue weighed about 10 pounds but he had caught a 35-pounder from the same spot a week earlier. John had rigged us up with his BBQ-flavored Catfish Dynamite under floaters and we were fishing just out from the windward side of the lake.
Catfish were holding in the cover of some lay down trees and brush and making quick forays out to hit our baits dangling under the floaters.
“Bass fishing requires a great deal of finesse but this is the kind of non stop action that gets folks hooked on fishing,” Barnes said. “I love to take kids out for catfish, especially when they are biting like they are today. It makes fishermen out of them quickly.”
For about the past decade, Strike King has been producing catfish baits and Barnes has watched the sport of catfishing grow in a big way since he developed his first baits.
“With all the interest generated by tournaments and more national coverage of the sport, catfishing has gained interest nationwide,” Barnes said. “I am very excited that we now have a national publication devoted to the sport: Catfish Gold Magazine. The thing that I enjoy most about catfish is the fact that they are usually pretty easy to catch, once you learn their seasonal patterns and know where to fish for them.”
Strike King has on its pro staff some “heavy hitter” bass pros such as Kevin VanDam, Denny Brauer, Mark Davis Shaw Grigsby, and a host of others. Barnes says that many folks might be surprised to learn that the majority of bass pros he has become close friends with through the years also enjoy fishing for catfish.
When you stop and think about it, what fisherman WOULDN’T enjoy fishing for catfish? Catfish are usually willing to take a bait, they pull hard and when dusted with cornmeal and dropped into a skillet of hot cooking oil, they’re tough to beat as table fare.
The lake we were fishing also has a healthy population of black bass. Barnes’ personal best from these waters was a 10-pounder but he’s seen a 13-pounder caught here. What day on the water with a basser would be complete without dragging a jig through some heavy cover or working a spinnerbait over the top of a submerged grassbed? After we landed a big cooler full of blue and channel catfish for a big upcoming fish fry, Barnes handed me a bait casting rod rigged with a Strike King Spinnerbait and he began pitching a jig to heavy cover.
In about 30 minutes of fishing, Barnes landed a couple of bass and I lost one that, as we say, “moved a lot of water”, and was obviously a nice size fish. During the last 30 minutes of our catfishing, we had put about 10 catfish in the cooler! Beginning to see why I, and a whole bunch of bass fishermen, also love to fish for catfish?
The first ever prepared bait catfish tournament is scheduled for Saturday Aug. 11 at Lake Texoma by Bass Pro Shop’s Big Cat Quest.
Contestants can use only prepared baits and tournament owner Ken Freeman says first place will pay $10,000. A total of $24,000 will paid out.
Weigh-in will be at the Choctaw Coliseum in Durant. The entry fee for two-person teams is $75. Pre-registration is at the Choctaw Coliseum Friday, Aug.10 from 5 to 9 p.m. This includes a meet and greet with bait makers and industry leaders.
For more information, call 731-234-1888 or visit www.kenfreemanoutdoorpromotions.com