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John's Journal... Entry 41, Day 1

What's a Yo-Yo?

click to enlargeI've had people call me a yo-yo before, and I've seen children playing with yo-yos. But until a couple of summers ago, I never had fished with a yo-yo. However, after five hours of yo-yo fishing that produced 92 pounds of channel catfish for three of us, I now consider yo-yoing for cats one of the best techniques I've ever seen for catching plenty of cats quickly and having fun doing it.

I accidentally learned how to yo-yo for catfish. Billy Blakely, of Tiptonville, Tennessee, a guide for Bluebank Resort at Reelfoot Lake, and I fished for giant bluegills around the cypress trees standing out in the lake. As we moved through the trees catching gills, I noticed a small, round, silver disk hanging by a piece of string. Another piece of braided nylon line came from the bottom of the disk and hung down in the water.

"What's that, Billy? I asked.

"That's a Yo-Yo," Blakely replied, "the best catfish-catching machine in the world."

click to enlargeAs Blakely maneuvered the boat on through the trees, I saw several more Yo-Yos hanging from cypress limbs. Just below the Yo-Yos, I spotted catfish in the water, tugging on the line trying to escape.

When I asked Blakely if folks caught very many fish with those Yo-Yos, with a big smile, he answered, "On the average, Yo-Yos produce about 1 1/2-pounds of catfish per Yo-Yo each night."

When I announced I'd really like to try that kind of fishing, Blakely laughed and said, "I've been looking for an excuse to go Yo-Yo fishing. I've got about 50 Yo-Yos. I've been promising my roommate, Eric Ving, that I'd take him Yo-Yo fishing. When we get back to camp, I'll call him, and the three of us will go tonight."

Just before dark, Ving met us at the launch ramp with a styrofoam minnow bucket full of Yo-Yos and several boxes of night crawlers. He told me, "John, you better get some ice for your ice chest. We're gonna get some cats tonight."

click to enlargeA Yo-Yo, an automatic fishing reel produced by Mechanical Fisher, consists of a stainless-steel spring enclosed in a sheet-metal frame. The small circular device has a line attached to the top end that you use to tie the Yo-Yo to a green limb of a tree hanging out over the water.

The lower end of the Yo-Yo contains 20 feet of coiled trotline staging with a snap swivel on the end of the line. To fish with the Yo-Yo, attach a No. 2/0 hook to the snap swivel, and put a small piece of shot lead 6 to 8 inches up the line from the swivel.

As you pull out the line on the bottom end of the Yo-Yo, the stainless-steel spring will coil tighter and tighter. When you've pulled out the desired amount of line to fish the water depth you want, you engage a small wire trigger on the side of the reel. The trigger holds the reel in place, and the spring inside the reel is coiled tightly.

When a catfish takes the bait, it trips the trigger, causing the spring to uncoil quickly, which sets the hook and keeps tension on the line. As the catfish swims away from the Yo-Yo, the stainless-steel spring becomes even more tight. When the catfish quits swimming, the spring jerks the line, pulling the fish back under the tree.

If you fish with the Yo-Yo instead of the standard limb line, the Yo-Yo will ...

* set the hook with a quick jerk,

* keep constant pressure on the hook, preventing the catfish from escaping,

* add more pressure to the line the further the catfish swims away from the tree,

* keep the line from getting tangled in underwater logs and limbs by pulling the catfish up and away from the bottom each time it runs,

* play the fish as it runs from the tree and then pulls the catfish back to the tree and

* pull the catfish's head up out of the water or near the surface to let you know you have a fish on the line, day or night.

click to enlargeTo learn more about Yo-Yos, contact Mechanical Fisher, P.O. Box 1170, Diamond City, AR 72630; (870) 422-7715. For more information on BlueBank Resort, write Rt. 1, Box 970, Tiptonville, TN 38079; (901) 253-6878.

Tomorrow: Where To Fish The Yo-Yo




Check back each day this week for more about Yo-Yoing Cats...

Day 1 - What's a Yo-Yo?
Day 2 -Where To Fish The Yo-Yo
Day 3 -How To Get Catfish Off The Yo-Yos
Day 4 -What Other Ways And Places Can You Fish Yo-Yos
Day 5 -Combo Boat Fishing

John's Journal