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John's Journal... Entry 247, Day 1


Cats On The Rocks

Editor's Note: Although you can catch channel catfish around rock walls, riprap, rocky bluffs and almost anywhere you find rock cover in shallow water, from now until the end of June, the channel cats will be spawning in many areas of the South. Phil King, of Corinth, Mississippi, one of the nation's top competitive catfishermen, has a string of catfish-tournament wins that will embarrass a show pony. Before King fished in catfish tournaments, he was a commercial catfisherman, feeding his family with his knowledge of where, when and how to find and catch cats. This week, King tells us where and how to catch cats on the rocks with Strike King's new Catfish Dynamite, Catfish Dip Bait, Catfish Bites and Catfish Dynamite Dough.

Question: Phil, you fish Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River along the border of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. When do the channel catfish come to the rocky banks there?
King: Water temperature is the most-important clue to finding the cats on the rocks in any lake. The water temperature must be at least 65 degrees to cause the channel catfish to pull up and start staging at the edges of rock ledges near the rock bluffs and riprap where they'll spawn. I've found the best ledges to fish are in 6 to 8 feet of water. In April, May and June, the channel cats will move into the rocks and spawn in 1 to 2 feet of water. Many times when the channel cats get really shallow, you can see them leaving wakes as they come from the rocky cover to take your baits.

Question: How big will these channel cats be?
King: They will average 3 to 3-1/2 pounds each. If you catch 40 fish, they'll weigh about 120 pounds total.

Question: What do you consider a good trip when you guide other catfishermen?
King: On an all-day trip with two fishermen, I expect to catch 40- to 60-channel cats when the cats are on the rocks.

Question: What is the biggest channel cat you have caught?
King: I have caught channels that weigh from 10- to 12-pounds each.

Question: What other kinds of fish do you catch when you're fishing in the shallow-water rocks?
King: Sometimes we'll catch smallmouth bass, spotted bass, shellcrackers (red-eared sunfish), bluegills and drum.

Question: Why do you like Strike King's Catfish Dynamite when you fish for cats on the rocks?
King: Ninety-five percent of the people I guide want to catch cats to eat. If they catch a big fish, that's a bonus. Strike King's Catfish Dynamite, Catfish Dough and Dip Baits help you target the smaller eating-size fish. I have a rule on my guide trips that if we catch a cat that weighs more than 10 pounds, my customers can photograph him, but then that cat has to be released. I believe in releasing the bigger cats because they are the sport fish, and eating the little cats because there are more of them, then each year the lake will replenish itself with more small cats, especially if you release the big cats. When you fish for the size cats that you want to eat, Strike King's catfish baits are hard to beat.

If you'd like more information about Phil King, how he fishes, where he fishes, how he can clean a catfish in 11 seconds, and some great recipes for catfish, call (662 ) 286-8644 or go to www.h2ow.com/catfish/. To learn more about fishing below the dam at Pickwick, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at info@tourhardincounty.org, call 731-925-8181 or 800-552-3866, or visit www.tourhardincounty.org. Pickwick Landing State Park offers fishing, boating, hiking, camping, swimming and golf. Lodging includes the lakeside inn with over 100 rooms, cabins that sleep eight and a campground that contains 48 sites with grill and electric/water hookup at each site. A restaurant at the park offers delicious southern cuisine. Call 731-689-3135 or 800-250-8615 to learn more.




Check back each day this week for more about CATS ON THE ROCKS ...

Day 1 - Cats On The Rocks
Day 2 - How To Rig To Catch Cats On The Rocks
Day 3 - Don't Anchor Down When Fishing For Cats On The Rocks
Day 4 - After The Spawn
Day 5 - Dynamite And Cats

John's Journal