Why We Catfish: A Guest Editorial by Justin Conner and Tabitha Linville

Editor’s note: Justin Conner and Tabitha Linville have made catfishing a part of their everyday life. They live in West Virginia where their home waters are the Kanawha and Ohio rivers. They have a passion for catfishing and it’s growing. They are partners in The Catfishing Duo Guide Service (304-972-58030). A recent trip to Wheeler Lake in Alabama fueled their passion even more.


Like many other catfishing enthusiasts, our passion for catfishing started with family outings. Justin’s late grandfather got him into catfishing when he was younger. The outings were always catch and release. Justin’s family didn’t fish, they just went camping a lot and Justin would fish on the banks while they camped. The only one that even fished in Justin’s family was his late grandfather.

I fished with my dad early in life, but it was Justin that introduced me to catching flatheads. The first flathead I caught was from the river bank. It weighed about 25 pounds and I was hooked on flatheads from that point on.

Justin introduced Tabby to flatheads, but she will take a blue if it comes along.

Justin introduced Tabby to flatheads, but she will take a blue if it comes along.

I love catching all catfish, but flatheads are my favorite. They fight super hard and none of them look alike. They are all different colors and different patterns. For Justin, it is simply the bigger the fish the bigger the rush. It doesn’t matter what species it is.

We have two awesome catfishermen that we look up to and they feed our passion. Van Hughes and Carl Morris are just all around great guys and will help anyone out with catfishing. They are very knowledgeable cat men and they put in a lot of time on the water.

Van willingly shares what he knows with anyone that is wanting to learn how to catfish whether they are beginners or have been fishing for a while. He taught us how to use planer boards on lakes, because we had never used them before. It was our first time fishing a lake, we were used to anchor fishing and having current. With Carl, we admire how he consistently puts fish in the boat, he is also friendly and shows great sportsmanship.

Tabby shows off another big blue cat. She likes to catch them, but also likes to put clients on big fish like this.

Tabby shows off another big blue cat. She likes to catch them, but also likes to put clients on big fish like this.

We are fortunate to be able to share our passion for catfishing through our business. We run The Catfishing Duo Guide Service and love being able to take others out fishing. It is very rewarding to see the smiles on their faces and their excitement when they catch catfish.

We have been very blessed to have caught so many catfish and to have been able to travel and fish in different states. Our most memorable trip is when we fished at Wheeler lake in Alabama the last week of April this year. The lake was flooded, but we found a great hole. We found a spot where there was a huge current break and I caught a 80.7-pound blue and Justin got a 78- and 76-pound blues in a matter of minutes.

Justin has a special affection for flatheads. Especially big flatties like this.

Justin has a special affection for flatheads. Especially big flatties like this.

It was just unbelievable to catch three huge fish of that size in a matter of minutes. After relocating on down the lake we caught several more big fish in the 70’s 60’s and 50’s. We ended up catching a ton of fish while we were there, including two big flatheads, at 64 pounds and 58 pounds. It’s like it was just meant for us to catch fish all week long while we were there and it was an amazing fishing trip for us. That trip just fueled the fire. We can’t wait to go back. That was a trip of a lifetime.

We always practice catch-photo-release (CPR). The most important element of catfishing to us is to make sure we put all the fish back into the water. We want them to continue to grow so that others can enjoy catching them in the years to come.

We catfish for the thrill and for the peace. We feel free when we’re on the water, not a worry in the world. We love being out fishing and exploring new waters, because you never know what you’re gonna’ catch when you go out. Catfishing is very exciting and is an adrenaline rush like no other. Having a big cat on the line will literally make you tremble. We call it catfish fever!

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