Categorized | Opinion

Gills, Cats, and Frogs

By Josh Gowan

Father and son Jason and Logan Saltzman pose with three big Southeast Missouri flathead catfish.

Father and son Jason and Logan Saltzman pose with three big Southeast Missouri flathead catfish.

My wife asked me what I wanted for Father’s Day, and I told her there was nothing more on Earth I could ask for, I’m already so blessed and have so much.
She flashed me the same facial expression she gives my son when he says his room is clean, so knowing my ruse was a bust, I rolled out my list like a kindergartener at Christmas! I do love Father’s Day, and it’s just a shame it doesn’t get the publicity Mother’s Day does.
There should be just as many fishing poles and shotguns sold as there are flowers and diamonds!
I spent Saturday at work waiting on fishermen, and Sunday at home working in the yard, but fortunately I received some good reports. It’s getting hot, and when it gets hot, the catfish come out in full force.
The fluctuating Mississippi River is teeming with pot-bellied whiskers right now, and the guys out running trotlines are absolutely killing them. Skipjack chopped into small pieces has been the best bait, but guys are using a myriad of attractants and catching fish. The bank fishermen are throwing stink bait along with cut bait and worms, and are dragging home heavy stringers for their efforts. My extended family, the Chipman’s are not having as much luck floating jugs on the river, but it’s just a matter of time.
They have been catching some good fish, just not a lot, using hotdogs soaked in Big Mike’s secret sauce.
Another couple of blockers had some really good luck on a smaller, but just as flooded, St. Francois River. This father/son team of Jason and Logan Saltzman doesn’t need a holiday to get them to spend time together on the water, they are always out together chasing something. They’ve been floating jugs in the backwater of the St. Francois using, wait for it, live goldfish! Flathead catfish prefer live bait, and the Saltzman men know how to catch them.
They’ve been running their jugs three to four ft deep, and their last trip out brought home a 25, a 19, and a 9 pound flathead. There’s no better eating catfish, and I bet them fellows know how to prepare them!
The big story at Reelfoot has been the bream, which is par for this time of year.
They are hammering them around the scattered pads and shallow water trees, pitching crickets under a float and vertical jigging 1/80 ounce Grizzly Jigs tipped with a waxworm. Louie Mansfield, who’s forgotten more about bream fishing than most people know, said when the sun is shining, the best color Grizzly is Norman’s Rainbow, a multi-colored, flashy little jig with a white head. If you don’t have the Grizzly catalog, just call 1-800-305-9866 and request a copy, they’re free, and you can see exactly what it looks like!
I got a report from Tennessee that the backwater and ditches around Reelfoot were getting full of big, long-legged bullfrogs. Missouri’s season opener comes in a few weeks and I’m ready.
Frog hunting is not a vanity sport, and all the UnderArmour RealTree Max-4 in the world won’t improve your chances. If there were ever a time to tuck your jeans inside your boots, this is it! The most important tactical gear for any serious frogger is simple, light and spear, just like the Romans.
I use a 16 foot aluminum pole with a five prong spear, lovingly named the “Fist of Death” (available at Grizzly Jig!) and big spotlight.
The third and most vital element to a frog hunter, and anyone who wants to spend time near stagnant water in the dark with a spotlight in July, is Off. I like to spray my clothes down with DEET the day before, use Skin-So-Soft as a base layer, and then lather up in Deep Woods Off! It’s all well worth it for a night of fun and a dinner of fried frog legs!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine 573-579-0212 www.joshgowanoutdoors.com

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