Catfish Profiles in Passion – Cad Daly

by Ron Presley

A passionate catman with an undeniable strategy of sharing and giving back.

Cad Daly has a passion for catfishing. He is shown here on one of his favorite places to fish, Wheeler Lake in Alabama.

Fifty-year-old Cad Daly makes his home in Pulaski, Tennessee with his wife Ashley and son Case. It is not to surprising that he loves to catfish because Wheeler and Wilson Lakes are just across the state line in Alabama. They are close enough that he calls them his home waters.

Where many catfish anglers have those lakes on their bucket list, Daly fishes them regularly for his own enjoyment and as a way to share the sport he loves so much. He is a skilled and accomplished catfisherman with a passion for helping others. He is especially active in helping young anglers. His own addiction to catfishing dates back to when he was young, probably five or six years old.

“I got started catfishing at an early age,” recalled Daly. “My grandparents had a small farm with a pond. My grandmother would take me fishing in that pond. I remember just sitting there with her as a kid taking in everything she said. I was in heaven!”

Weekends became a ritual for Daly. At the first sign of light he would wake his grandmother up and they would hit the pond. He recalls those days for the fun, but also as a learning experience. And, as many will recall, bait was easy to come by.

Instead of fishing with worms from the bank of a pond Daly now uses all the modern equipment to find and catch his whiskered nemeses.

“I would dig worms around my grandparent’s barn where the cattle would eat,” joked Daly. “It was some very good rich soil. From what I remember the rods and reels we used came from a local hardware store and was just your standard old school Zebco 33’s.”

“I learned the important virtue of patience from fishing with my grandmother. We would sit for hours just waiting on that bobber to disappear. The same thing applies today. We often sit for several hours waiting on that one important bite.”

“…catfishing began to grow as a part of who he was.”

“Fishing with her back then was just as exciting as getting ready for a tournament today,” confessed Daly. “I would give anything for her to still be around so I could take her out on the boat and help her catch a monster cat.”

Through Daly’s teenage years and early adult life he was still fishing, but it was pretty casual. He fished local rivers and ponds from the bank but never got really serious about it. Then, a few years ago catfishing began to grow as a part of who he was. A fortuitous, and by some standards strange, meeting with another catfish angler stoked the flames and a more serious angler developed.

“Chris Parker and I became friends at the local pay lake,” said Daly. “It was several years ago before we knew anything about the pay lake problem with big river fish. As we were educated about the problem, we quit fishing it and decided to buy a boat.”

This little flat-bottomed boat helped move Daly and Parker to a whole new world of catfishing.

That first boat was a 15-footer with a 25 hp engine, but it gave them a start in trophy catfishing that led them to tournament fishing. Since that time, they have upgraded many times, having had 7 or 8 boats between them. In their first trip to Wheeler in that little flat bottom jon boat they caught one fish. It was a nice blue cat weighing about 20 pounds. They were hooked!

“Now, we travel all over fishing tournaments” said Daly. “Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Ohio have all be fished. We are planning on making a few trips to other states in the upcoming year.”

Although Daly gets a lot of satisfaction from tournament fishing, he gets more from helping other people catch fish. Any of his friends will tell you, he is one of the first people to volunteer for events related to new anglers, especially the kids. He is often involved with tournaments and other events that give back in some way to the community.

Nowadays Daly and his partner Chris Parker team up to hunt down big blues like this Wheeler Lake beast.

“He has never met a stranger,” said his tournament partner, Chris Parker. “He is always there to talk to that stranger or help that stranger.”

“That is how Cad and I met,” continued Parker. “There I am on the bank struggling to get a fish in. The next thing I know this stranger is grabbing the net and helping me land my fish. From that point in time a friendship was born.”

“Cad will help anyone. From the store clerk where we buy our breakfast, the stranger pumping gas, or the guy at the dock fishing, Cad is always going out of his way to answer a question or talk to that stranger.”

“My fishing partner is always sending me a message saying he wants to do this or wants to give this. It is all aimed at helping someone or giving back to the sport that we both love.”

“If I can’t go fishing on a certain weekend it is likely that Cad goes fishing and introduces someone new to catfishing. Witnessing his generosity has made me a better person and I’m proud to call him my partner,” concluded Parker.

Cad’s wife describes his specialty as, “Helping others through fishing in general. He is quick to contribute his time, ideas, etc. to causes that affect the catfishing world. And that’s all on top of taking people out to fish.”

“What I enjoy most is helping younger anglers,” explained Cad. “Or even adult anglers that have never caught a big fish. I also enjoy taking people out who have never had the opportunity to go on a boat and fish. I really enjoy that!”

Personally, I plan on fishing as long as my health will allow it,” concluded Daly. “I have a ten-year-old son, Case, who really loves to fish and I hope to one day turn it all over to him.”

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