Inside information on catching catfish


Special to The Herald

Jeff Faulkenberry, a guide at Truman Lake, fights a blue catfish during recent fishing trip on a hot summer day.
Jeff Faulkenberry, a guide at Truman Lake, fights a blue catfish during recent fishing trip on a hot summer day. MCT

Only a couple of generations ago most sportsmen viewed catfish as lowly bottom feeders, best suited for the attention of young boys, old river rats, and n’er-do-wells. They were considered to be beneath the dignity of the serious fisherman. How things have changed.

In recent decades Mr. Whiskers has become immensely popular. There are competitive tournaments focusing on them, guides who specialize in catching them and new techniques to catch them have emerged. The once humble catfish is now immensely popular.

That is both sensible and satisfying. When properly prepared, catfish make wonderful table fare.

They can be caught in a variety of ways, with equipment ranging from a simple cane pole to high-tech gear. Widespread, eager feeders, capable of being caught in all seasons, and found in everything from small ponds to huge reservoirs, mighty rivers to small creeks, they are worthy of any angler’s attention.

Keith Sutton, known to friends and readers alike, simply as “Catfish,” is the author of a number of books on catfish.

His new book, “Hardcore Catfishing,” lives up to the promise of its title. In its 39 chapters “Hardcore Catfishing” covers everything from special approaches for the various types of catfish – channel, blue, flathead, and bullhead cats – to recipes for enjoying one’s catch.

Individual chapters offer facts about them which provides a sound biological primer, thoughts on fishing through the various seasons. Eight chapters are devoted to “Advanced Tactics.” For the serious catcher of cats that is the most important part of the book.

There are five chapters to offbeat or alternative means of catching catfish. These include jug fishing, limb lining (he styles it yo-yo fishing), trotlines, snagging cats, and noodling.

To those I would add a couple other methods, throw lining and “trapping” cats. Throw lines are a version of trotlines which can be used by someone who wants a lot of hooks in the water and doesn’t have a boat. Using older tires to attract and sort of trap bullheads in shallow water is an offshoot of noodling.

Commercial catfishing involves real traps, often of considerable size. When talking with Sutton I mentioned these methods, along with adding muscadines to the list of fruits, including persimmons and mulberries, he had placed on the catfish diet.

“That’s one of the great things about studying and writing about catfish,” Sutton said. “You are always learning some new technique or piece of information.”

There is an absolute wealth of information in these pages. You’ll find material on baits of many varieties, instructions on how to make your own stinkbaits, coverage of artificial lures to catch cats, and topwater fishing.

“Hardcore Catfishing,” is published by Skyhorse Publishing, The price is $17.95. The book is available through Sutton’s website,