• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Catch catfish with these simple fishing tips

Layne Logue and catfish
400 400 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Often overlooked by sport fisherpeople, catfish can provide wonderful angling as well as fine dining. 

by Leon Pantenburg

On my 1980 Source-to-Sea canoe voyage of the Mississippi River, I was an opportunistic fisherman. Whatever species I caught  first ended up as lunch or dinner. My go-to fishing rig was a medium-action, fast-tip spinning rod, with a Mitchell 300 spinning reel spooled with six-pound Trelene™. My go-to lure was a 1/8-ounce leadhead jig with a yellow Mister Twister™ tail.

Dinner, provided by the Mississippi River. Layne Logue, of Quapaw Canoe Company – Vicksburg Outpost hoists a stringer of catfish.

Catfish were frequently my fish of choice. I could bait my hook, toss it into an eddy, stick the rod handle between the cracks in the concrete rip-rap and go set up camp. Generally, dinner was soon available.

My favorite catfish bait was fresh chicken livers. I would buy some at the grocery store, and if the fish weren’t biting, the liver could be fried instead. The catfish (or chicken livers) were dredged in flour, and fried in a hot skillet over my backpacking stove. Either tasted wonderful,  hunger being the best sauce!

My friend, the late Frank Smith of Utica, Mississippi, was the most successful catfish harvester I ever ran across. He ran trotlines on the Big Black River in central Mississippi and often brought home a boatload of fish. Frank’s go-to bait was goldfish.

Frank’s fish fries were legendary, and included cole slaw and hush puppies. Frank would feed all his friends and neighbors, and send dinners to local shut-ins.

The most commonly eaten catfish species in the United States are the channel catfish and the blue catfish, according to Wikipedia, both of which are common in the wild. Farm-raised catfish became such a staple of the U.S. diet that President Ronald Reagan established National Catfish Day on June 25, 1987, to recognize “the value of farm-raised catfish.”

Survival fishing isn’t sport fishing, and during an emergency, ethics may take a back seat to feeding people. Check the local fish and game laws – if a method is illegal, that is probably because it is so effective.

Trotlines may not be legal in your area. But where they are, a trotline may be the most efficient way to catch enough catfish for dinner. During a disaster or survival situation, a trotline can be set, and you can do something else while you’re fishing. The lines can be tended by youngsters or seniors.

Here is a traditional southern fried catfish recipe.

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Want to try catching big river catfish? Contact Quapaw Canoe Company Vicksburg Outpost, Quapaw Canoe Company or Big River Wild Adventures.

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