A friend recently asked me this question, but to put the question in context, there was more to it. He said,
"you have fished in perhaps hundreds of lakes and rivers in your lifetime and you spend more than 200 days each year on the water fishing for all kinds of fish, why in the world did you get interested in catfish?"
The answer isn't really complicated. I like to catch big fish, and to do that in fresh water means going after catfish. In a typical year I may catch and release three or four thousand fish from freshwater fisheries both in the United States and Canada. Most of these fish are relatively small, ranging from one to two pounds each. Don't get me wrong, catching a boat load of bass on light fishing gear is great fun, but bringing in a 30 to 40 pound blue catfish, really makes my day. The only way that you can get the thrill of a huge fish in fresh water is to fish for catfish.
I can make my answer just a little bit more coplicated. The books that I write about freshwater fishing have a somewhat unique twist to them. Unlike most other fishing books, I use my scientific background to blend the science of fishing with the sport of fishing. There are more scientific twists and turns to catfish than any other freshwater species. Catfish have sensing devices all over their bodies which make them an excellent study for an inquisitive fisherman. Also, fishing for catfish is often a misunderstood series of myths. I enjoy busting those myths.
For years, as an example, fishermen have been fooled into believing that barometric pressure has an effect on fish behavior. In one of my recent books I proved mathematically that barometric pressure has absolutely no effect on fish behavior. Another example, people usually think of catfish as a species that you catch at night, not true, most catfish are caught furing daylight hours. The fun part of writing is that I need to do a whole lot of research to prove my points and researching means more hours of fishing. I know it's tough work but someone has to do it.
Another reason why catfishing has grown over the years is that the population of blue catfish has increased significantly in nearly all freshwater lakes and rivers throughout the country. In many states catfish are now being recognized as a legal game fish and are being regulated and in some cases stocked. If this is not enough reason for going catfishing, try eating a middle aged blue catfish and you'll find it one of the better tasting freshwater fish to eat.
Two of my favorite spots for fishing catfish are The James River near Richmond Virginia, where it is not uncommon to catch a 50 pound bue catfish. The best place for channel catfish is The Red River of the North, in North Dakota. This river produces channel catfish in excess of 20 pounds on a regular basis. For channel catfish, that's a big fish. (Thats the one shown in the title page of this blog.)
Perhaps to better explain the reason why catfish are becoming so popular we can look at a couple of recent photos. The first photo is of a nice bass that I cauht in Lake Norman. The second photo is of a catfish that I caught on the same lake a few days later. Now be honest, which one do you believe gave me the better fight.