Outdoor life- fishing

A local angler nets schools of shad for catfish bait to be used in local lakes, ponds and streams.

When the dog days of August roll around, anglers like Carl Robbins and Ted Franklin, Marshall, bring out the catfishing gear and head for a lake or stream.

“There are a lot of good-sized catfish in Missouri waters,” Robbins said. “And, August is a great time to catch them."

This pair of catfishermen have set lines from the north Grand River to Table Rock Lake with good success.

"We started fishing together back in 1984, and have taken cats up to 54 pounds,” Robbins said. “We started close to home on Blackwater River and the Lake of the Ozarks. More recently, we have fished Stockton and Table Rock. Last week we started using nightcrawlers on a bass rod and caught channel cats on Stockton. Although both are known as good bass water, they are also good catfish lakes. Fishing at night this time of the year can be very rewarding."

Since catfish are not too particular about what they eat, the two anglers use whatever is available and easiest to obtain. They have used everything from hot dogs to liver in their quest to catch catfish.

"We once had some leftover hot dogs from a camping trip,” Franklin said. “So, we baited several lines with them.” To their surprise, the lines set with hot dogs caught more and larger cats than the lines set with shad sides.

And, with catfish, you never know what will work best.

Franklin became interested in fishing for catfish early — he was still in grade school when his father first took him catfishing. They used a blend of stink bait that you could smell from the next county. The stink bait worked because they always brought home fish. Franklin remembers the time his father went out to set hooks while leaving Franklin on the bank to try his luck with some of his special stink bait. “While Dad was baiting his lines, I hooked a big channel cat that pulled me into the water before I finally landed it. When my dad returned, I was holding up a four-pound catfish with a big grin on my face. I know my dad was proud and I have been hooked on catfishing ever since."

Although August is the favorite month for this pair of catfishermen, they fish all year long. In fact, one of their better trips was in January on a Kansas lake that had ice in the coves. They took out a pontoon boat and used shad sides at about 10 feet deep. A television crew was filming waterfowl, but when they saw the anglers pulling in channel cats, they focused on the busy pair of fishermen. Robbins and Franklin wound up catching more than 20 catfish in three hours including a 12-pounder. Most of the fish were in the 2 to 5-pound range. They had a great winter day although the temperature was around 40 degrees. The hot fishing made it seem much warmer.

Both catfishermen rate August catfishing in Missouri waters as the best anywhere. Recently, Franklin caught his largest catfish out of Truman Lake waters. It was a 47-pound blue cat, about which Franklin said, “I have caught 10 pounders that fought harder. I guess it was just fat and lazy. It hit just about five minutes after I started fishing. The monster hit so light that I gave it line before I set the hook. At first, I thought it was a turtle, but when I felt the pull of the fish, I knew it had to be big.”

As for eating catfish, Charlie Dawson, Independence, is another catfisherman who said not only are they fun to catch, they also are good eating. He stumbled upon a recipe he said will have you wanting more every time.

"If you should be lucky enough to have some catfish in the freezer, liberate them now,” Dawson said. “Otherwise, you might want to get down to your favorite catfish hole and collect a new supply just to try this recipe on a camping trip.”

Dawson continued, “Start a fire and let it get down to hot coals. In a small bowl, combine a quarter teaspoon each of seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder and ground nutmeg then set aside. Place two catfish fillets in the center of two sheets of foil and sprinkle each fillet with seasoning mix. Dot with butter and cover with sliced onions and green pepper. Fold the packet and place on the hot coals for five minutes, turn over and cook for three minutes more or until the fish begin to flake.”

Dawson said he saw this recipe several years ago and now every time he is camping and catfishing he looks forward to using it again.

“I would recommend it to anyone, even if they don’t think they like catfish, because after eating it cooked this way, they will definitely want more,” Dawson said.

White, a Stockton resident, has a versatile background in sports, both as a journailist and participant. His column appears weekly.

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