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July 18, 2023 Comments Off on Catching catfish evokes memories of midnight fish fries Fishing

Catching catfish evokes memories of midnight fish fries

Flip Putthoff
NWA Democrat-Gazette

It’s possible to eat a steady diet of catfish and fried potatoes and live to tell about it.

Such fine dining kept my pal Hog Ears and me nourished many moons ago over a couple summers during our college days. Both of us had summer jobs at Table Rock State Park close enough to Branson, Mo., you could hear the twang. We were lucky to find an old Airstream travel trailer to rent right on the lake close to the park. That may sound like tight quarters for a couple of college dudes, but it had a big screened in front porch we turned into a living room.

Hog Ears collected camp fees and my gig was at Table Rock State Park Marina pumping gas, selling bait and cleaning dirty fishing boats after our rental customers returned them. A great benefit was my boss gave me a 16-foot Rich Line aluminum boat and 9.9 horsepower Evinrude outboard to use until it was time for me to go back to school at the University of Missouri.

We made good use of that boat, heading out to go scuba diving on our days off or just messing about on the lake. At night we’d run limb lines for catfish.

Catfish aren’t on the radar screen for most anglers until summer. That’s when they really start biting. Catfish are a favorite because there are so many ways to catch them. Fish for them with rod and reel. Get some plastic pop bottles or foot-long lengths of a swimming noodle and attach a hook and line for jug fishing. Run a trotline or use limb lines like Hog Ears and I did. Simply tie twine to limbs hanging over the water and bait a hook so the bait is a few inches under the water.

Hog Ears and I would fish off our landlord’s dock and catch a bucket of small sunfish and use those for bait. Depending on our work schedule, one of us would head out in the boat at sunset and bait our limb lines.

Then in the middle of the night we’d wake up, grab flashlights and go down to the dock where the boat was tied. Under the stars and moon, we’d motor slowly across the cove to the timber in the water where our 10 or so limb lines were tied. Nearly every night we’d catch a nice mess of channel catfish, take them back to the dock and clean them.

When you’re in your 20s, frying up a mess of catfish and fried potatoes at 2 a.m. is a swell idea. No telling how many middle of the night fish fries we enjoyed, frying up our catfish and ‘taters in an electric skillet there in the little kitchen of the Airstream.

Fast forward to 2023 and now Chris Gueydan, his family and neighbors are sacking up the catfish by jug fishing this summer on Bob Kidd Lake in west Washington County. The Gueydans live close to the lake near Prairie Grove.

One morning this summer, Chris invited some military veteran friends over for a jug fishing bonanza, and a bonanza it was. Chris reports the gang caught enough catfish for not one, but two fish fries.

Sitting in a boat with a 10-pound channel ‘cat in your lap makes it easy to forget summer’s heat.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at when he’s not tangling with a catfish.