Travels have brought me to North Central Texas once again and I have had the opportunity to fish a little. While this is not the best season for fishing in this area, it’s still good compared to many parts of the nation.
There are a lot of species of fish sought in the waters of Texas including freshwater and saltwater types. Probably the most sought after fish in the south is the Channel Catfish.
Most of us have had the opportunity to sample these fish on our dinner plates as they are not only present in most waters across the nation but also are a tremendous success story of pond raised fish for market.
No matter where you drive across the south you can see large man-made ponds alongside the road where catfish are being raised by farmers. Instead of crops of grain and hay these people raise fish for public consumption and the process provides 380 million pounds of fish fillets worth approximately $450 million according to Wikipedia.
This also provides for a market for grain products which are the primary source of food for these pond raised fish. So it’s a win-win situation for the agriculture industry on both sides of the equation.
Since the early days of settlement of the United States people have been pursuing the catfish using a multitude of methods from hand fishing to long lining.
In modern times many pursue the tasty catfish by rod and reel and it’s because of the simplicity of gear necessary that the popularity of the species continues to soar.
A simple rod and reel, handful of hooks and lead weights and some bait of almost any kind can put a person into a nice painful of catfish on even the days when other fish refuse to bite. Everything from the lowly earthworm to horrible smelling concocted “stinkbaits” will attract these cats.
A number 4 hook and enough weight to cast is all that’s needed to complete the setup. Cat fishing has also been called the lazy man’s sport due to being able to sit down and wait for a bite. It’s the same with any kind of bait fishing but memories of days afield sitting on a creek bank or lake shore sharing memories while the lines fluttered in the wind do make me smile.
The best technique seems to be to use a barrel sinker that allows the line to slip through once the bait is picked up so the fish can run a short distance unencumbered by the drag on the line. When the line gets tight, the fisherman should set the hook and hang on for a great fight.
Catfish come in many varieties including Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, Bullhead Catfish and Flathead Catfish. Some of the species can reach upward of 100 pounds and early reports from the Mississippi River reported fish in excess of 200 pounds. With the channeling of the river, those are no longer found but every year big ones are caught from various impoundments and rivers across the United States.
My son caught a great Flathead Catfish here in Lake Ray Hubbard that was more than 70 pounds. Now that’s a fish to write home about.
While you can eat the bigger fish, the smaller ones from 1 to 5 pounds seem to have the best flavor and the flesh is both firm and white and make for a great supper with hush puppies, home fries and okra.
Grab your poles and get out and enjoy the fishing no matter where you are. There is still time before it gets too cold and the fish will be feeding trying to pack on the pounds prior to winter.