Confessions of a Catfishing Addict
By Karry Kyllo
I have a confession to make. Iíve been a recovering walleye fishing addict now for about 10 years. I say recovering because an addiction is something that is never totally overcome and my addiction to walleye fishing will never leave me. I still get the urge to tie a number 5 perch colored shad rap to 50 feet of 10 pound monofilament line tied to three colors of leadcore spooled into a line counter reel, let out 100 feet of line past the last color of leadcore and troll along a very sharp dropoff on one of my favorite lakes, but for some reason I quit. I quit cold turkey. No 12 step program for me. I still donít really know why. I guess I just knew it was time to quit.
I had specialty rods for jigging, specialty rods for rigging, specialty rods for trolling with line counter reels and the reason why I didnít have more specialty rods is because I couldnít fit more rods into my boat. I had bottom bouncers, spinners of every imaginable size and shape, every color and size of jig with almost every imaginable type of plastic trailer to put on the different types and colors of jigs. Crankbaits? I had almost two tackle boxes full of crankbaits. Looking in my collection of crankbaits, I had whatever crankbait was supposed to be the hottest new design or color that season. Deep running crankbaits, shallow running crankbaits, jointed crankbaits, banana baits and many kind of crankbaits that I canít even describe with my grasp of the English language, I had them all, or at least as many as I could logically justify buying.
My boat? I had a Lund Tyee with a 115 Merc along with a 10 horse Merc for a kicker as well as a bow mounted 24 volt electric trolling motor which meant two additional batteries. I also had to have two depthfinders, with one transducer mounted on the electric trolling motor and one mounted on the transom. This was before underwater cameras became popular but if theyíd been around at that time, I guarantee that I would have had one. Of course, I had to have two drift socks as well. The marketers of walleye equipment and accessories should have been proud. Theyíd sold me on just about every gadget that I could afford to buy. I preferred backtrolling and Iíve spent a lot of my life backing into a good chop, bouncing up and down, and inhaling the wonderful odor of a two stroke outboard for hours and hours on end.
Why? To catch a fish that rarely attain 8 pounds on most bodies of water. Iíve got nothing against walleyes or walleye anglers, but every walleye addict knows what Iím talking about. Gosh. but I loved it. I loved every second of it. Like I said, itís now been almost 10 years since I went through the terrible struggle of fighting my walleye fishing addiction.
Although I basically quit walleye fishing, I still fish. Alot. I never said that Iíd quit fishing. I just donít fish primarily for walleyes any more. When I go fishing now, all of my rods and reels are exactly the same, nine foot light action rods and bait casting reels all spooled with 80 pound test on the main line, 2 ounce to 3 ounce no roll sinkers, a bead, a barrel swivel, a 60 pound test snell and 5/0 to 8/0 circle hooks. My old walleye buddies shake their heads when I tell them about how I now fish. It defies the teachings of the walleye gurus that have been telling them for decades about fishing with lighter line and smaller hooks to catch more and larger fish , and undoubtedly, it defies the wisdom so wonderfully presented in the immortal fishing classic Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers.
I guess I donít much think now about how Iím ignoring the walleye wisdom that I once abided by when Iím trying to wrestle a 20 pound catfish out of the limbs of a downed cottonwood tree. The 80 pound test line works and works well. Thatís why I use it.
The tackle that I carry with me when I now go fishing can be fit into a small plastic box that neatly fits into a small compartment in my boat. No more tackle boxes strewn around the floor of my boat. My biggest fishing expense, once tackle, is now bait. If how I now fish can be compared to walleye fishing, it would be exactly like fishing for walleyes by only using the most basic Lindy rig, or a weight and a snell with just a bare hook Itís simple, effective and let me tell you, it works very well.
Iím also enjoying many other benefits since I have tried to conquer my walleye fishing addiction. In many ways, I enjoy nature more while catfishing than I ever did while chasing walleyes. I now anchor exclusively or if itís extremely windy, I beach my boat when I fish. Instead of the sounds of an outboard motor dominating the sound of my fishing environment, it is now dominated by the cries of red tailed hawks or the sounds of snapping twigs as a doe and her fawn emerge from their woody homes to explore the river. There is something magical about catfishing while anchored on a river. It gives one time to think, time to relax and time to observe nature, a nature that is often disrupted by the sounds of mankind. Now, the only disruptions that I encounter while Iím on the water are an occasional boat passing by, a flock of ducks quietly rushing past, their wings whistling as they maneuver quickly to the left and then to the right, and my favorite disruption of all, that of my rod bending almost to the breaking point and the battle to land one of the giant catfish that inhabit my favorite river.
I catch much larger fish on a regular basis and enjoy it much more than I could have ever dreamed about when I was under the influence of my walleye addiction. Instead of gauging my fishing success by a limit of walleyes that may not even average two pounds at times, I now gauge my success by how many trophy size catfish I can release in a day. Itís not that catfish arenít on a par with walleyes as table fare, but as odd as it sounds, I just canít kill these magnificent giants to satisfy my desire for a wonderful meal. Perhaps as I get older, Iím beginning to realize my own mortality. I just donít know. I know that catfish canít think as we humans can and itís hard to explain, but when I look into the eyes of a catfish lying on the floor of my boat, I can almost sense an unspoken plea for their release. I subconsciously thank them for the battle and release them to live another day.
Catfishing provides me other dividends as well. I now catch bigger walleyes by accident than I did when I tried to catch big walleyes. In fact, I now consider walleyes bonus fish.
Perhaps comparing walleye fishing and the teachings of the walleye gurus to catfishing is somewhat like comparing apples and oranges, but I have a new confession to
I now fish with only big hooks, heavy line and heavy weights and I catch more big fish than ever before. I love it.
Iím a catfishing addict.