How to Catch Catfish and Cook Catfish

If you want to catch catfish and cook catfish the Jones' have a few ideas for you.

| May/June 1973

Ever shuffled out of the house at four a.m. with a fishing pole over your shoulder? Nearly every country boy can remember at least one daybreak of rounding up cheese, angleworms, night crawlers, dough balls, or chicken parts and running off for some good catfishin'.

Matter of fact, many of those boys don't quit when they grow up. Take me, for instance. Though I greatly enjoy the sporting aspects of wetting a line, I'm also a staunch "meat" fisherman. That is, I like to pursue a quarry that I can appreciate on the table . . . which is why I'm such an avid fan of catfish. The critters are common and widespread, bite when other fish won't, reach super sizes . . . and, above all, are incredibly tasty. My family of three here in Maryland enjoys this whiskered delight at least once a month, and—since catfish are available to most folks—their nutritional goodness can become an important part of anyone's diet.

Like to try catfishing? Get up bright and early one morning and head for the nearest river, lake, or farm pond. Nighttime will also produce good results. In fact, "cats" can be caught quite readily at all times of the day, at all water temperatures and depths. The best time to plan your expedition, however, is after a heavy rain . . . especially in the spring. When other fairweather fish are sluggish and temperamental, the hungry catfish forage about in the freshly rejuvenated waters.

If you fish regularly, you probably have a favorite spot. If not, just ask some of the local old-timers. Though angling stories are famed for their dishonesty, there's generally some darn good tips in them somewhere!

I prefer an old-fashioned bait-casting rod and reel but almost any type of arrangement—from Grandma's cane pole to a fancy spinning rig—will catch a catfish. Use a small-to-medium-sized hook and a sinker that's heavy enough to keep your bait on the bottom, in cat territory. The weight needed to do this will vary depending on water conditions.

Most conceivable baits will entice these tasty critters, but garden worms are the old standby (Just don't take too many out of the vegetable patch!). Cast a generous bait to the bottom, and wait for the slow, deliberate tugging which signals that a catfish is biting. Above all, be patient!

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