Always looking for the next big cat
Chad Everett wins RigRap Wheel spin on Catfish Weekly
On Monday November 27, 2017 Catfish Weekly’s RigRap Wheel landed on CatfishNow for an angler from Mebane, N.C. There are a million stories in the catfish community, this is just one.
Chad Everett is a catfish angler and he has been for a long time. But, the loss of his dad and the passing of time has changed his outlook on the whiskered critter. When he and some friends took a trip with a catfish guide he learned some new techniques and set his sights on trophy catfish.
“I grew up going catfishing with my dad,” recalled Everett. “We fished local lakes like Cammack and Quaker Lake. I think the biggest cat we ever caught was 13 pounds. Actually, that was pretty big for the lakes we fished around home.”
“My dad had an older boat when I was younger, continued Everett. “We would catch either crappie or hybrid bass and cut them up for bait. My dad later got a 17-foot Triton. We would mainly crappie, catfish or bass fish with it. In August of 2012, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in February of 2013. After he passed, I really didn’t care about bass fishing anymore.”
Although his actual fishing slowed down for a couple of years he still thought about it. More specifically he thought about the boat he might like to have.
“I always loved catfishing and I’ve always wanted a center console,” offered Everett. “So, I started looking on Craig’s list. After a couple of years, I found one that fit my price range that was in good shape. It was a 2014, 20-foot JVX.”
“I started fishing Kerr Lake a lot. At first, I would come home empty handed, but after getting my boat the way I wanted it and learning the lake a little, I began to catch more fish. I got a lot of great advice from a few guys on Facebook that were serious catfishermen.”
His pattern of fishing continued until he took a guided trip with a popular catfish guide. He made the trip hoping to pick up some pointers on catching trophy catfish.
“A couple years ago, me and a couple of buddies took a guide trip to Gaston with Zakk Royce,” offered Everett. “Zakk basically taught me how to fish for cats by drifting. I always anchor fished with my dad when I was younger. I didn’t know you could fish for catfish by drifting until I went with Royce.”
Following the successful trip with Royce his catfish fever was rising. Everett began investing in the tools that would help him catch more trophy catfish. He was lucky to have a well-known and experienced boat rigger in the area and he headed to him for some help.
“When I got my JVX I took it to Austin Sartin, with NC Marine Fabrication, for rigging,” said Everett. “He built me a custom rod rack, installed rod holders, and a Lowrance unit on my new-to-me catfish boat. A little at a time I would purchase equipment, like Big Cat Fever rods, Abu Garcia reels, drift socks, etc.”
Everett’s catfish education continued as he spent more time on the water and talked with more anglers. That education included expanding his bait of choice.
“In the past I would use a variety of bait,” said Everett. “I used cut crappie, bream and sometimes deer meat. Since I’ve been fishing Kerr Lake and talking to other fishermen, I’ve been basically using what I can catch for bait. I can usually catch crappie pretty easy, but when the water turns colder the shad get deeper and I have a hard time catching them. I just recently learned how to catch white perch and had a ball doing it.”
Everett is lucky enough to have good catfish waters to fish. John H. Kerr Reservoir, also known as Buggs Island Lake, offers more than 50,000 acres of fresh water, more than 800 miles of shoreline, and some really good trophy cat waters.
“Now, I mainly fish Kerr Lake whenever I get a chance,” said Everett. “It’s probably the closest lake to me where you can possibly catch a big catfish.”
Everett likes tournament fishing, not for the competition, but the camaraderie.
“I’m not sure about tournament fishing yet. I really just like going catfishing and trying to catch one bigger than I caught the last time. I think I would rather fish in smaller tournaments like a coffee can.”
“The only tournament I’ve ever fished was the Icebowl last year at Kerr Lake,” reported Everett. “I plan on fishing it this year as well. The Icebowl was definitely an experience. It was bitter cold on the water. I wasn’t expecting to place in the top 10. I just wanted to be able to catch and weigh a fish in, and we did.”
The Icebowl tournament began as a small tournament between NC and VA anglers with a travelling trophy going to the winning state. It has grown to be a popular tournament that is open to all anglers. The local competition between NC and VA is still a part, but awards are given to the overall winners, regardless of where they are from.
“The NC side beat VA last year in the total weight caught,” recalled Everett. “But Dale Russel Lowe won biggest fish with a 141.76-pound blue cat. Seeing a fish caught and released that big was incredible and something I will never forget.”
“When I fish in the Icebowl this year, I’m not expecting to win or beat all the pro staffers, guides, or just really good catfishermen. I just fish it to be a part of it. It’s a good experience, really fun and you get to meet or see a lot of the people that catch big catfish on a regular basis.”
Everett is a firm believer in Catch-Photo-Release (CPR) and practices it regularly. As he joins the growing ranks of CPR anglers he is doing his part to protect the future of the sport of catfishing.
“I definitely practice CPR,” said Everett. “There really isn’t a reason you shouldn’t practice CPR. You catch plenty of 10-pound and under catfish to take home for a meal. I think CPR is the reason you see people catching 100-pound catfish.”
“I’m definitely addicted to it and love catching catfish. The biggest I’ve caught so far is 28 pounds, but it just makes me want to go back and catch a bigger one. Every time I go I’m hoping to catch a pig or at least one bigger than I caught the last time I went.”
Editor’s Note: Everyone likes to win stuff and Catfish Weekly is giving plenty of catfishing gear away. All you have to do is sign up for the giveaway on the Catfish Weekly Facebook post each week and then tune in on Monday nights to listen to Lyle Stokes and Doc Lange. If your name comes in the random drawing then Lyle spins the wheel to see what you have won.
It’s free and it happens every Monday night at 7:00 pm central time, and sometimes in between. When the wheel lands on CatfishNow the winner gets their catfish story told on the CatfishNow website.