Catfish and hush puppies. Say those words out loud and it's guaranteed you're going to turn heads.
Buying farm raised catfish in a store is one way to put that combination together. The other is to go after them with hook and line. And we're not talking about trotlines. To be more precise I'm talking about catching channel cats, and even the occasional high fin blue over baited holes with stink baits.
The other day I was on a small lake just west of Houston. I say small it covered about 50 acres. I was out there with a couple of buddies fly fishing for bass and bream. One afternoon we were in for lunch and the land owner came by. We got to talking and he informed us that the lake was full of catfish, that just about nobody cared to catch. We all looked at each other with wide eyes.
"Mind if we catch a few?" I asked.
"Take all you want," he said. "More the better. They compete with the bass."
Less than an hour later I was back from the local feed store with a sack of milo. We hit a local Wal Mart and picked up a container of stink bait, along with treble hooks and split shot.
We poured the grain in an old wash tub, added some water and let it soak in the sun for about five hours. About an hour or so prior to sunset we launched an old flat bottom boat, anchored over a sand bar just off a point, and tossed out several scoops of the soured grain. It was just beginning to take on a pungent smell, and it didn't take long for the first cats to come calling.
We used No. 6 treble hooks loaded with a peanut-sized glob of stink bait on bottom. The trick in this situation was to rig up with just enough weight to take the bait to bottom in 14 feet of water. On this particular day we rigged up with about three pieces of split shot on the tag end of the line. About 12 inches above the weights we tied on a treble hook.
On the first drop I felt a slight tap, set the hook and reeled in the first of 16 channel cats weighing from 1-½ to about 3 pounds. That's about as easy as fishing gets. And it's a tactic that's perfect for catching deep feeding channel catfish during the hot summer months.
I've fished with a lot of great catfishermen over the years. And during that time I've noticed that the ones using stink bait over holes souped up with soured grain were more often than not going to load up with tasty cats.
Baiting up holes for catfish is nothing new for Jim Morris, a Toledo Bend guide that's an expert at catching catfish.
"When fishing with soured grain and stink bait's the object of the game is too keep the sink off you and out of the boat," says Morris. "It's a good way to catch lots of catfish during July and August. But it's a smelly way to get 'em to the frying pan."
Morris' favorite way to bait up a catfish hole is simple. He'll sour maze in five gallon buckets. The souring process is simple. You pour the grain in the bucket and add just enough water to cover the contents.
"With the weather being as hot it is you don't need to let it soak too long to get the souring effect," says Morris. "You can do it for a few hours, or a few days. It all depends on how smelly you want things to get."
When the flies start swarming over the soured grain you know it's getting right.
Just about any type of grain will work. Maze is fine, but so is milo.
Morris will catch 40 to 60 cats an hour when the bite gets going. Lately it's been in 15 to 25 feet of water over old road beds and along areas with sandy bottoms. Many of the channel cats are about 12 to 15 inches long.
His catfishing rig is simple. Tie on a No. 6 treble hook. Then add about a ¼-ounce weight 8 inches above the hook.
Lately Morris has been using both punch baits and red worms.
The punch baits are made up of different concoctions. Morris' favorite is made from ground shad. The reason they are called punch baits is because you push the treble hooks into the stink bait with a stick.
This is a catfishing technique that'll work day and night. It's one that'll put lots of catfish in the cooler in a hurry.
Here's one last tip. It's always best to bait up at least a few areas. That way you have the option of moving from one spot to another, if one plays out.