We made a trip for yellow catfish, but not every trip goes as planned.
It was like spring was getting to Tater Knob early one February. On Friday, the temperature reached about 70 and the next morning Chipmunk, Catfish, Baker, and I went to the mill pond at Brier Fork creek where Catfish kept a leaky old flat-bottom plywood boat.
Our plan was to set out a bunch of limblines baited with fiddle worms to catch a mess of yellow catfish.
The afternoon before this expedition, we went worm fiddling over next to Hurricane Creek in a patch of woods on the Ray place. To our surprise, our fiddling efforts produced a bucket of worms. The unusually warm weather had the worms coming up near the surface.
Saturday morning, we no sooner got those limblines baited and set out when three city slickers came walking up and joined us at our campfire. They were fishing at the mill pond dam nearby and heard us talking about fiddle worms. These men had heard about fiddling for worms but didn’t believe it to be a fact, so they wanted to see it in action.
“The Catfish Show”
Well, Catfish never was one to miss an opportunity to be the center of attention. This was especially apparent when it came to fishing. He jumped up, went to his truck and got out an old handsaw. With those three slickers in tow, he went back in the woods a little ways on the side of a ridge next to a pile of rocks and sawed down an oak sapling, about three inches in diameter, leaving about 16 inches of stump.
He commenced rubbing the saw on the stump so hard that the ground vibrated where Chipmunk and I stood. In a few minutes, the leaves on the ground began to move as handfuls of earthworms came to the surface.
Catfish, ever the expert, told the strangers that the worms thought the vibrations were moles coming to eat them and they skedaddled to the surface to escape.
While those excited fellows were picking up worms in the leaves and putting them in a tin can, Catfish, with a proud grin on his face, sat down on one of the rocks to enjoy the praises coming from the city fellows.
“Catfish was famous for his fear of snakes; they were all venomous to him.”
To encourage more accolades about his worm fiddling, Catfish rubbed the saw on the sapling stump a few more times. This time there was rustling in the leaves just behind the rock Catfish was sitting on. He turned to look, grinning at his early spring success, to see several snakes crawling in the leaves.
“Water moccasins!” screamed Catfish.
Leaping up in a flash, he ran right over the three city fellows. Sent sprawling to the ground with their worms flung into the air, the slickers gained their feet instantly and followed Catfish who ran toward the safety of the dam.
Armed with a garden hoe, Catfish came back after about 30 minutes looking for that wad of “water moccasins.” Chipmunk and I, still laughing, assured him they were garter snakes. After all the commotion died down, they had gone back into their den.
Catfish was famous for his fear of snakes; they were all venomous to him. With that taken care of, we got back to trying to catch supper.
How Catfish Improvised
The cold water gave the yellow catfish lockjaw, but Catfish wasn’t about to go home empty-handed. He had a reputation at stake. When he determined that the yellow catfish were fasting, he broke out his rod and reel and tied on a new jig.
It was a lead-head jig he had cast, equipped with a number 6 hook. He had painted the head red with a black eye. To the jighead, he had tied a bunch of stiff white bristles. He called it a Do Jig. He tied it about a foot behind a silver Johnson spoon.
That old river rat began to cast it around some treetops that had fallen into the creek during the winter. On his second cast, he caught a slab-size crappie. After that, he dang near caught a large crappie with every cast.
Chipmunk and I wished for a rod and reel but we didn’t have one. Because of this, we spent the afternoon running limblines with no luck. We kept the campfire going while Catfish, now over the “water moccasin” scare, caught crappie.
We left with a good mess of fish and a fiddlin’ story on Catfish.