John's Journal... Entry 53, Day 4
EDITOR'S NOTE: To consistently catch very big catfish, you must have the knowledge of where to find and how to catch these monster-sized fish. In many lakes and rivers throughout the United States, catfish weighing more than 50 pounds cruise the bottoms.
William Ratteree of Manhatten, Kansas, went fishing with two of his friends, Fred Bammes and his son Cliff, in July of 1987. The trip primarily was to be for white bass with the hopes of perhaps catching a few catfish. The trio were fishing the River Pond, a spill-off of Turtle Creek Lake.
Since the white bass had been schooling just off the swimming beach in 20 feet of water, this spot was where the anglers anchored their boat and began to fish. Ratteree's two companions had big baits on heavy lines cast out over an underwater ledge to try and catch catfish. But Ratteree was casting toward the bank with a small, lead-headed jig for the 1- to 1-1/2-pound white bass.
"We were fishing in about 20 feet of water," Ratteree mentioned. "I was casting and retrieving for the bass when suddenly I felt a hard thump on the line. I thought perhaps I had caught a big walleye, but the fish headed for the deep water drop-off. We had to raise our anchor to chase the fish. I didn't know what I had on, but I was sure it was the biggest fish I ever had caught. My two friends, who were avid catfishermen, started telling me I probably had a 50- pound plus cat on the line.
"After about 40 minutes, I wore the big fish down, and we could see from the slime on the line that I had on a big cat. The huge fish flipped its tail and dove again. I didn't know if I could hold it, because I was fishing 14- pound test line. When we saw how big the fish was, we used the trolling motor to head for the beach, because we realized we couldn't put the catfish in the boat.
"My friend, Fred, jumped into the water and said, 'Just keep the fish's head up, Bill, and I'll grab the cat and drag it up onto the beach.' Fred stuck both hands in the catfish's mouth, squeezed down and grabbed the catfish by the lower jaw. The large catfish went nuts. Fred, whose hand was bloody from the fish's coarse mouth, drug the big flathead onto the beach.
"The catfish, which weighed 62 pounds, was a line-class record on 15-pound test. Even though the line I was using was rated at 14 pounds, when it was tested by the IFGA, it tested to be 15-pound test. Since then I've caught plenty of nice-sized catfish, but I've never taken a cat that came close to compare to the weight of this one."
To learn more information about catching catfish, go to Night Hawk Publications' Home Page, click on books, and then go to fishing books to see John Phillips' "The Masters' Secrets of Catfishing." You can buy the book by sending a check or a money order for $13.95 to Night Hawk Publications, 4112 Camp Horner Road, Birmingham, AL 35243 or use a credit card by calling (800) 627-4295.
Tomorrow: Bobby Joe King and Carol Patin