The Tackle: One that Almost Got Away

Meet the Catfish Hunter


For  about a year, my friends and I had a lot of fun catching huge gar,
using minnows as bait. One year, we decided that a change in scenery
was in order, and it was at our new location on the James River
that we ran into a guy we nicknamed “Catfish Hunter.”


Catfish was a good fisherman. While we were trying our best to catch gar
using floats (and not not having any luck at all), he was pulling
in some monster flathead catfish. And though some fishermen like
to keep their secrets, Catfish was happy to share his with us.The
trick to his success consisted of a couple of 1/2-ounce egg sinkers
above a swivel, a 10-12″ leader, and a size 1 hook. It was
a deadly combination, and it kept him busy fighting fish all day.
He even let one of my buddies land a 10-lb. cat on one of his poles
while he was busy landing another one.


Something like this I’ve told him :))

Well, over the next three weeks, all of my fishing buddies had hooked and landed a real nice flathead using this method — except me. Every time I would hook one, the line would break. The cat would find the drop-off, or the notorious sunken log about 30 yards out, and that would be the end of that battle.In  spite of my bad luck, I was determined to land one.Finally, in the fourth week of fishing, I hooked a big flathead. Somehow, I managed to maneuver it over the structure on the bottom and get it in close. But, the big cat still had a lot of energy and different ideas on what was going to happen. When my buddy Dave waded out and tried to get his hand on it, the fish made one more run for freedom. Because the cat was in so close and my drag was set so hard (you guessed it), THE LINE BROKE!As the fish swam away right between us, Dave tried to grab its tail.

But, even though he had a good grip on it, cats are hard to hold onto, and it slipped away. I WANTED MY PICTURE TAKEN WITH A NICE CAT, just like all my friends had, and I WAS’NT GOIN’ TO LET THIS ONE GO! Dave grabbed the tail again, but it got loose again. Then, the chase was on. We quickly discarded our fishing rods, and struggled up the river. I made two attempts at grabbing the fish by its mouth, and ended up in water up to my neck. Then, just before the fish reached the deeper water, Dave slowed it down by grabbing at its tail. Seeing my chance, I plunged my bare hand into its mouth — completely submerging myself in the process.

With Dave holding the tail, and me holding the mouth, we wrestled the big cat to the shore. After taking my much-deserved pictures and removing the hook, we released the cat.It wasn’t the easiest way to catch a flathead catfish, but it’s one I’ll sure remember for a long time!