Catfish Profiles in Passion – Larry Muse

by Ron Presley

Bumping is Best

This column is a series of personal profiles describing catfish anglers whose passion for their sport goes beyond the simple pleasure of engagement. Hopefully you will feel some kinship to them and learn from them in a way that will benefit your own outdoor adventures.

 

Larry Muse has a passion for fishing, catfish in particular. His passion started quite honestly and grew to the high level it’s at today. His friends will tell you that being around him will not only teach you about catfishing, but also about life. He is the kind of man that sets examples for others to follow.

“It was my Granny French who taught me to fish when I was a very small child,” said Muse. “She also taught me a lot about life, through fishing. Without her influence I would not have the insights I have into fishing or the insights I have into life.“

“Bumping . . . it’s the best way to get bait to where the fish are.”

 

There are huge lessons to learn from Muse’s relationship with his granny. “The first time anyone ever patted me on the back for something was Granny French,” reported Muse. “She congratulated me for catching a catfish. Lots of other kids did really good in school and wanted to. I never did.  Granny’s praising me for catching fish was the thing I most desired. Her lessons helped mold my life.”

Larry Muse is shown here sharing his Winter Blues on Wheeler catch with a spectator.

Larry Muse is shown here sharing his Winter Blues on Wheeler catch with a spectator.

Fishing was a way of life in Muse’s early childhood; it put food on the dinner table. “Granny French was always right in her assumptions about where the fish were and how to catch them,” explained Muse. “At the end of her life she was ready to go, so solid in her salvation. That had a huge influence on my Christian life. She’s waiting somewhere for me now, on a river with a big box of chicken livers.”

Although the catfish affliction goes back to Granny French, the addiction started in in the early 2000s. “I’ve been addicted to catfishing since about 2001 when I first got into some really big fish below Pickwick Dam,” reported Muse. “Now I want to catch big catfish as long as the Good Lord lets me.”

Muse’s home waters include the tailrace below Pickwick Dam on the Tennessee River. “It’s close to Corinth and it’s where the bumping bottom method of fishing was developed,” continued Muse. “One of my other favorite waters is Wilson Lake on the Tennessee River. I caught my biggest fish there.”

Tournament successes have made him favor other waters too. “The one thing I’d change about my past is that I’d start tournament catfishing earlier. I’ve found my place in this sport and only wish I’d done it earlier.”

“I won at Owensboro, Kentucky twice,” reported Muse. “First was a SeaArk Invitational in 2013 and then Monsters on the Ohio, October 2015. I guess you could say the stretch of river below Newburgh Dam is now a favorite too. I also love fishing the Mississippi River because if I ever catch the biggest fish in that river, I’m going to be ‘the man.’”

Observations by a friend

Larry Muse normally fishes tournaments with his dad Frank Meador and his stepbrother, Dino Meador. When they can’t fish he often turns to the “B-team” for his competitive partners. “I’ve known Larry for probably 25 years,” said B-team member Don Dalton. “He’s genuine, unique and sincere. There is no pretense in Larry.”
“He will tell anyone his honest opinion of a situation, often with a measure of homespun color. He expects the same from people and is very accepting of others regardless of their backgrounds or situations. This makes him often a breath of not fresh air, but oxygenated laughing gas.”
“In some of the most dicey situations we’ve been in together (or I could said he’s put us in) he’s said something that made me think of what he said rather than the situation. It takes a unique individual to do that naturally, without any attempt to be funny or diverting. He thinks really deeply — almost consumedly — about things that interest him.”
“Larry finds inspiration for his catfishing problem-solving in some of the most amazing places. Few I know can apply what they see to other applications the way he can. His ability to break things down logically is amazing.”
“On the fishing side, he really wants to figure things out and then tell everyone how they can improve. There’s a bit of hidden genius in his information sharing philosophy, but only he should reveal that and on his own time.”
“Finally, Larry sincerely wants the best for everyone. He is a dedicated Christian. He’s fearless when it comes to talking about his faith, whether it’s in front of a Kiwanis Club audience or with a group of catfishermen. That’s perhaps the quality I admire most.”

Muse is shown here with his 2015 BCQ Angler of the Year Award

Muse is shown here with his 2015 BCQ Angler of the Year Award

Muse has a great interest in growing the sport of catfishing and willingly shares his knowledge with others. His methods have him starting his next fishing trip before he ever gets on the water. “My first step is to decide what part of a river or body of water I’m going to fish.  Anytime I see a weather report or water report I think of how it relates to the catfish and where they are likely to be.”

Most anglers have a favorite way to catch catfish, for Muse it is bumping. “I guess bumping baits off the bottom, in current, is my favorite way to fish for catfish. I will bump anytime and anywhere there is current enough to bump and sometimes when there really isn’t enough current to do it well.”

Muse’s preference for bumping is straightforward and simple. “Bumping is my favorite method of fishing because it’s the best way to get bait to where the fish are. It’s also easier to target fish that nobody else may have targeted. Those are the fish that have the opportunity to grow big. It’s more productive than targeting a spot. Most people are looking for a big drop-off, but a catfish can hide behind something that’s only a foot tall. There’s lots of stuff on the bottom of rivers that is a foot tall. I like trying to stick bait behind everything out there.”

Bumping successfully depends on boat control. “It’s vital that you position the boat to enable the current to take you back across proven waypoints and structure that are most likely holding fish. The only way to control the boat is to have a bait and line in the water so that you know how much line you are letting out and how much to hold back against the current. You must know whether to slow down or speed up in order to put the bait where the fish are.”

The best time to fish for big cats, according to Muse, is the fall. “I love September through November,” revealed Muse. “The fish are feeding up for winter and they bite better. There’s a better chance of catching bigger fish too.”

Muse always believes there are better days ahead, but names the 2015 Monsters on the Ohio as one of his best fishing days ever. “Saturday, October 10, 2015 would certainly rank as one of my best days,” exclaims Muse. “Finishing first in a tournament with 182 boats and fishing against some of the best catfishermen in the world ranks among my top days. We had an awesome day, one in which the victory was a surprise. That made the whole experience even more special.”

Sharing his catfish knowledge with others produced another great day on the water.  “One day I took my dentist, his wife and son fishing on Wilson in Alabama. We caught 20 fish over 35 pounds, the biggest was 65 pounds. We boated 40 to 50 pounders one right after another. It was a great day.”

Muse would like to see more kids introduced to the sport. “Start by teaching them the right way,” instructed Muse. “Pick times and places that almost guarantee success. Indulge their questions and reply with good answers. Let them make mistakes and learn from them. Let them actually catch the fish and praise them highly when they do things the right way. Having a child as a fishing partner now may provide a lifetime adult benefit for you both.”

Conservation is also high in Muse’s priorities. “There is a large measure of responsibility that comes with catching any fish, but particularly really big catfish.  It takes Mother Nature decades to produce these big fish and that effort must not be wasted by irresponsibly showing off the catch. Keep a camera handy, photograph the fish and release it as quickly and respectfully as possible.”

“Having stated my views on protecting big fish, let me say that I get ‘fish hungry’ like everyone else and I love eating catfish. I encourage people to keep the smaller fish for eating. In my opinion, five-pounders make better table fare than bigger fish anyway.”

“Beyond conservation and responsibility for the fish it is our responsibility to look out for the waters those fish swim in. I encourage everyone to be very conscious of water quality issues. People and companies are less likely to pollute our waters if they know a lot of catfishermen are watching.”

When asked how he thought his friends would describe him Muse replied, “My friends probably describe my passion for catfishing as an obsession. They know I’m very focused on this sport now, and have been for more than a decade. They would say I’m getting more obsessed every year. I’d hope my friends would say I’m honest about both my successes and failures. I’d hope they would say there’s no one more eager to learn more about this sport than I am.”

When asked how he would want to be remembered his thoughts went back to his faith. “I guess I’d like to be remembered (but not anytime soon, please) as a Christian that used his talent and skill at fishing to spread the story of Jesus to others. This is my ministry. I think God has equipped me for it through years of fishing experience and Christian education. The first disciples were simple fishermen. I take pride in being a simple fisherman with a mission.”

“There is no limit to the big fish a person might catch,” concludes Muse. “There’s no limit to the people I might meet, friends I might make and influence I might have for good in their lives. What drives me is knowing that I haven’t yet caught the biggest fish in any of the rivers I’ve fished. I’ll keep trying to catch that monster as long as I can. The other thing that drives me is knowing that God has given me a special opportunity to spread his message about Jesus through catfishing to the people I meet. Catfishing is my passion and my ministry.”

 

Epilogue: In his interview Muse wanted to thank those who have helped him along the way. “I must thank the folks who have supported my fishing, particularly my wife Joyce and my sponsors. Without that support I could not have done in catfishing what I have done. Finally, I want to thank everyone who is helping grow this great sport of catfishing.

 

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