John's Journal... Entry 53, Day 5
Bobby Joe King and Carol Patin
EDITOR'S NOTE: To consistently catch very big catfish, you must have 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.
Another master of the big cats is Bobby Joe King of Arcadia, Louisiana, who has fished for cats most of his life. King has developed a system of taking big cats that doesn't interfere with his cattle farming. Back in 1982, King caught a 64-pound cat on Lake Bisteneau in Louisiana, and has taken more than 100 catfish that weigh more than 50 pounds each.
"I like to bream fish," King mentioned. "In the afternoons when I finish working with my cattle, I go down to Lake Bisteneau, catch up a mess of bream and put them out on set-hooks to take big catfish. I've found big cats bite best after dark in our area.
"One night when I was out checking my limb lines, I started noticing large catfish on top of the water. At that time, I had been fishing primarily on the bottom. But when I saw those cats on top, I decided to change my fishing strategy.
"I put my bait about 5 or 6 feet under the surface on limb lines on cypress trees that extended out over creek channels. I knew the big cats would come up from that deep water to feed in the shallows on bream at night. I had plenty of success.
"On an average trip, I'll usually catch catfish weighing between 10 and 70 pounds in my section of Louisiana. I rarely catch a cat under 10 pounds because the bait I use is so large. Usually one out of every four of my trips will produce a catfish weighing 50 pounds or more. Although April is probably the best month to catch big cats, too much traffic is on the water where I live during that month. Generally I go after the catfish in July when the weather is so hot most people are thinking about air conditioning rather that fishing for cats.
"The biggest cat I've ever caught was in 1970 and weighed 70 pounds. Besides fishing Lake Bisteneau, I've caught big catfish at Black Lake in Louisiana and on Toledo Bend on the Texas/Louisiana border. You won't catch cats on Toledo Bend as big as the ones in Black Lake, but you'll take more cats that will weigh more than 20 pounds each at Toledo Bend."
Another monster-sized catfish was caught in the Bayou State in 1978 by Carol Patin of St. Martinville. The fish was a giant blue cat weighing 128 pounds and was 59 inches long with a head measuring 39-1/2 inches in circumference and a mouth opening a full 8 inches. Patin's catfish was caught from Whiskey Bay's Pilot Channel in the Atchafalaya Basin.
Beside the size and the weight of this monster fish, this fish was like the one catfishermen have lied about for centuries, since this particular fish was a full 12 inches between the eyes. If you've ever heard anglers sit around the table and tell tales about the big cats that have gotten away, almost every yarn ends with the line, "And I guarantee, that fish would have measured a foot between its eyes."
Well, this time the big one didn't get away, and Patin's fish did measure a foot between the eyes. Without question, this monster catfish was the fish of most anglers' dreams. Most big-fish catches involve more luck than skill. However, these records prove that most of the monster-catfish hunters are skilled anglers who take the proper equipment and bait to sites they've learned the big fish inhabit. They go expecting and prepared to catch catfish, and often they do.
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.