The FishWitch Journal -
July 2001 (c) Mary Riley
Next to the ling I think God had it in for catfish. I can't find any redeeming
qualities when it comes to catching them. They are exceptionally slimy. Everybody worries
about their whiskers when it's the sharp spines on their fins that get you. If you get a
finger in their mouths they will clamp down like a vise and scare the hell out of you.
They are definitely NOT the species to fish when you're trying to get your lady interested
in fishing. Take it from me, boys. I don't care how good eating they are, take her
catfishing when she's new and you'll never get her out there again.
The boys at my house all fish catfish and say I'm a girl because I refuse to touch them.
Long ago I got nailed by those fins and developed a nasty infection, and ever since I will
not touch them. As far as I'm concerned walleye taste even better and are a lot safer to
fish. So I had a dilemma when I went fishing for jumbo perch and caught a catfish.
It slammed my hook like a freight train and fought like a devil. I was sure I had a pike
on the end of that line. So when I got it close enough to have a look my excitement
quickly turned to dismay. I hauled it on shore and on closer inspection realized that
there was no way it was coming off that hook; unless I took it off my fishing was done for
the day. I lifted it into my pail and walked home, rod in the air and fish in the bucket,
knowing how the boys would laugh when I got back.
Of course the catcalls started as soon as they looked out the window. Thoroughly disgusted
by now I told them to get the damn fish off my line or I'd break it and release the fish
and there goes their supper. They did.
A week later I took the flyrod down to the river. The sun was peeking in and out of the
clouds and there was a light chop on the water. Just enough of a breeze to help my
flycasting. And a couple of very nice gentlemen who were fishing with their youngsters.
Like all fishermen do, we began to chat. Turned out they didn't fish much, but they were
learning and sharing that quality time with their kids. It was a great time, the fly line
sailing out the way it should, the kids squealing when they caught sunfish and the
Until one of the men caught a catfish. And both of them looked at me and said they didn't
know how to take a catfish off the hook and would I mind helping them out.
Ladies aren't supposed to swear. At least the choicer words were under my breath. I tried
to be graceful. I told them I would tell them how to do it but I did not like touching
catfish. The men told me they had been injured by the spines before and the wounds got
infected and they didn't touch catfish anymore. The two little kids were standing there
looking from me to their dads like what's the big deal?
I told the men how to grip the fish and control the fins. I explained how they will clamp
down on a finger so keep away from the mouth. I told them how to use the pliers to remove
the hook. They just stood their looking at me. I looked at them. I looked at the kids. I
looked at the dangling fish, which was certainly looking at all of us and wondering if God
had a bad day when He created fishermen. We all resembled the loony tune cast of some
fractured play. In the end I had to stop being such a chicken and release the fish.
A word to all you ladies. When you go fishing, remember---REAL men take off