Why We Catfish
A Guest Editorial by Zed Moore
Editor’s note: Zed and Josh Moore are small town boys who grew up fishing on the Wabash River. Their hometown is Mt. Carmel, IL and their home catfishing water is the Ohio River. They got addicted to catfishing through summer vacations to area lakes and rivers before catching the fever for tournament fishing through associations with other anglers.
It was not love at first sight
Our first non-farm pond experience with catfishing was with my Dad (Les Moore) and Lenn Jamerson below Kentucky Dam. This was before circle hooks, electronics, and modern trolling motors. We simply drifted using a sculling paddle. The biggest fish we caught back then was 14 pounds, but we saw several 30-pound plus caught by other boats during our trips.
River fishing seemed very challenging and we didn’t really have the knowledge or the equipment to truly pursue giant river catfish. Josh and I were already spending the winters chasing ducks together hardcore on our rivers when we came across Steve Douglas and his YouTube videos catching giants on the Ohio River. We decided we could figure out how to do it, but it was not love at first sight. It was a huge river without a lot structure and we failed big time! In fact, at one point I told Josh I did not think I could be his catfishing partner if this was going to be a serious quest.
Like any fisherman we quickly made up some good excuses for our failure and somehow, I talked Josh into entering a Metropolis, IL Cabela’s King Kat event. We were hopeful, but prepared for a full meal of humble pie. Steve Douglas, Jeff Dodd, The Masingales, Phil King, Carl Morris Jr., Dale Kerns, Aaron Wheatley, Wayne King, and pretty much every good river fisherman from our area were there.
Although not totally surprised, we had hoped for at least one fish but I think those guys enjoyed our rookie enthusiasm when we reported zero, zilch and nada (zero bites and nada fish). Our research had pretty much guaranteed that we would find the August fish in deep, deep holes, so we spent the whole tournament in deep water. It was Tommy Walsh who asked this game changing question to us at the weigh in.
Walsh asked, “Did you get any bites in that 65-foot hole? We tried deep water too but didn’t get any bites so we moved to shallow water and we started catching them!”
The longer we stood humbly at the weigh-in, talking to all of the guys, the more we learned and the catfishing tournament hook was set. We were hooked!
We have taken many people along with us on fun fishing days, many of whom did not know the opportunity we have in our backyard to catch a wild, free swimming giant blue catfish on a rod and reel. Taking people fishing also gives us a chance to teach them the importance of handling these fish properly and getting them back in the water.
It is so important that new anglers understand how long it took a 50-pound catfish to get that big and the most important point is that there are only a few bodies of water capable of growing a 50-pound catfish. We are all responsible to protect our fishery.
Our favorite extra tournament partner is our dad, Les, he is our biggest fan and we are always grateful to get a day outdoors with dad. We have also taken our niece, Madi Merritt, to three Monsters on the Ohio tournaments. Those trips made life long memories for her and us.
Our most memorable moment is the 2016 Mississippi River Monsters tournament. It was held out of the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in Memphis. Fishing the Mighty Mississippi for a few days was a blast, we can’t wait to go back. We had a good time down there and really enjoyed the Mississippi River style of fishing. We got lucky and finished 3rd place and are already getting our plan together for September.
As anglers, we must protect our fish and we must take a stand together to stop the unsustainable removal of these fish. Truly, our sport has been built on the pursuit of free swimming, wild, big river catfish. Our sport will not survive without them.
Catfishing our rivers is such a blast. Catching a big wild catfish is an intense, sometime extreme rush and that’s why we fish!