Chasin’ late summer’s big cats (no relation to terrestrial mammals)

8 22 Tim
Tim Lesmeister loves it when he feels that faint tap on the end of his line and that light bite turns into a bruiser catfish that tests his gear as well as his abilities.

When I lived in a suburb of a major metropolitan area, I often saw cats roaming the wooded areas around the houses hunting for rodents and birds. These are cats I despise. These are cats that should be kept indoors and my disdain for people that let their cats out to indiscriminately kill wildlife in abundance is not something I keep secret.

Then there are the cats that tug on the end of my fishing line. I like these cats. I like the soft bite that feels like a small fish is sucking on the bait which almost immediately turns into an epic battle with a husky catfish that pulls hard and never gives up.

From the top edge of Minnesota to the tributaries of Florida you can find catfish. From the East Coast channel cats to the big mud cats of the Mississippi there are no shortage of catfish in the good-old-USA.

There are many options when it comes to catfish presentations. This is because the catfish can be targeted on lakes, rivers and reservoirs. They can be fished from boats, from shore, with lures and many different bait options. Catfish are a species that will test gear to its limits as well as an angler’s ability to land a huge fish. They are not finicky and are eating machines so if you put your bait or lures in front of a catfish there is a high-percentage chance it will bite.

From an angler’s perspective the catfish fisherman is considered just above the carp angler when it comes to stature. The fly-angling trout angler is at the top, followed by the fly fisherman who chases the “other” species like bass and panfish. There might be a tie between the bass angler and those that target walleyes, but since the bass fishermen have cooler boats I will give them the third-place slot. The crappie anglers make up the fifth place and then I’ll squeeze the river salmon guys into sixth.

This is not based on the popularity of the species. It is where anglers position their brethren on the scale of status, prestige and distinction. The seventh position goes to the sunfish lovers and eight goes to Great Lakes trollers. Ninth place is surely a perch jerker and finally, just making the top 10 is the catfisherman.

This is probably because the catfish angler always is portrayed as a guy sitting on a beat-up old folding chair on the bank of some smelly river, dressed in a pair of crusty stained bib overalls using an old popsicle stick to stir up some stink bait he had buried in his backyard for a month. He has a 30-year-old baitcasting reel on a pool-cue rod propped up on a forked stick in the ground, and there is a cooler of cheap beer next to him sitting in the sand.

But that’s not the reality. When you consider the amount of money anglers spend on top-notch catfish gear, the boats they use on the big water to target catfish, and the admiration and respect that today’s catfish anglers receive, their stature should probably be moved to No. 3!

Categories: Blog Content, Tim Lesmeister

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