Big Catfish are waiting! Mr. James Wiggins and his fishing partner, Bill Hart of 15 years from Cookeville Texas, have living proof! They mainly fish Lake Tawakoni with excellent results with these monster cats! They have only been fishing Tawakoni for the past 3 years, but state that other lakes such as lake Texarkana, Bob Sandlin and lake Cypress also have their share of these monsters!
James has a 22' Lowes aluminum boat set up just for catching catfish. They have 14 Driftmaster pole holders surrounding the boat with plenty of room to land the big ones. He preferred Bass Pro Shop Catmaxx 7'6" rods suited with Abu Garcia 6500 and 7000 Level wind bait cast reels. He states that you need this type of set-up to catch the monsters, smaller rods and reels sometimes fall short when trying to land the bigger ones. He also prefers 80 lb. pro braided line with a 9/0 double trouble circle hooks. The Santine Cooper rig is the set up to catch the bigger ones because of its ability to not hang up easily. He says that he can drag this rig across brush without hanging, this is very important.
All species of catfish are in our lakes, but they prefer to catch blue catfish because they grow to be the biggest. James and Bill only do this for fun and are very conservation-minded by releasing all they catch. The blue catfish takes 7 years of growth before they become fertile. James states that we must throw the fish back to conserve our resources and keep the bigger fertile catfish in the lake.
To catch these bruiser catfish, they like to drift, but will tie up on occasions when they locate a big school. With many fish coming from 15-25 ft. of water, James says that when you catch fish that deep that it is a must to release the pressure from their swim bladders. They do this by inserting a piece of tube down their throats to release this pressure so the fish can swim back to the bottom of the lake. After water temperatures get to 70-78 degrees, they find the fish go shallow to spawn. To locate these fish, electronics are important. You must have a plan before going to the lake, and always stay with your plan. This will help you learn how to find the fish quicker and be more consistent in catching.
The bait they use is cut shad. Cast nets are the best way to catch the shad. For the beginner, the smaller radius nets 4' monofilament are the easiest to throw and manage. There is some practice needed to learn how to throw a perfect circle with the net to achieve the maximum catching ability of the net. When the shad are caught, they are cut into pieces to fish with, the head portion being the best choice. Also, use your favorite fish attractant. This will enhance the bait. Then it's just a matter of holding on to one of these monsters, which is a suitable challenge for any angler.
We hope these tips will help you in catching a big catfish and maybe a fish of a lifetime. Always wear your life jacket and practice safety at all times. If we practice safety in front of our children, our children will learn how to be safe and enjoy the great sport of fishing for the rest of their lifetimes!