Big & bad

Hey guys, it's the Friday before Labor Day and all is quiet on the fishing front ... for the most part anyway. Next week we're going to turn our attention to the early fall transition, and the week after that we'll talk about which baits you should be throwing to catch those early transition bass. Before we do that, however, I want to talk about my experiences in St. Louis this week. It was a hoot.

We filmed a catfish show — City Limits — on the Mississippi River right in the downtown area of the city. If you think that our cities destroy the fishing around them, I suggest you watch that episode. You'll change your mind in a New York minute.

In just a short period of time, we caught three flatheads over 20 pounds and one over 50. Of course, we caught a ton of smaller fish in between those big, bad boys. I honestly forget how many we caught but it had to be several dozen or more.

The thing that really impressed me about the whole experience was the way our local guide went about finding and catching these whiskered beasts. He was every bit as precise in his search pattern as I would have been looking for bass. Honestly, there was no difference.

He marked breaks with his electronics, observed the current and watched for baitfish. (No, my friends, flatheads are not scavengers. They are top-shelf predators, worthy in every respect of the name.) We hunted them with the same concentration, and the same respect, we would any worthy adversary.

All in all it was one of the most fun days I've ever had on the water. The action was steady and the fighting fierce. Actually, I hate to say this, but pound for pound, flatheads might fight harder than a bass. We'll never know that for sure, though. No bass will ever reach the 50-pound mark.

But don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that you sell your bass tackle and go buy catfish tackle. That would be silly. I am suggesting, however, that we should keep our minds open when it comes to fishing. There's more than one species swimming around out there. We should take advantage of that fact.

I don't know about you, but I fish because it's fun to try to catch a fish and fight him back to the boat. I like the sport of it all and the opportunity to match my skills against theirs. We shouldn't become so narrow-minded that we think the only way to have fun or to match skills against a fish is to catch a bass. It isn't.

And, a lot of those other fish can be caught right in our backyard. There's really no reason to spend thousands of dollars to go to a far off place to catch big fish when there's one swimming within sight of your office.

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