If there is an upside to the onset of Mississippi’s brutal summer heat, it is that catfish seem to enjoy it. They get more active, and that can lead to their demise. As happens every year in mid to late May, the whiskered fish have turned on and are dominating the fishing reports throughout the Magnolia State.
While blue cats are a big draw on the Mississippi River, they aren’t the only big cat to be found, especially when fishing during the summer. Flathead catfish, or yellow cats as they are locally referred to, present just as much fun and excitement as blue cats, and the action is better after dark.
As Michael Willoughby of Brandon vanished beneath the waters of Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson, I couldn’t believe what I saw. He’d already gone underwater at this same spot, and when he’d come up dripping wet, he’d announced, “We’ve got one in there.”
Hand grappling. Grapplin’. Noodling. Hand fishing. Call it what you will, it is a deeply rooted passion for some adventuresome anglers and a flashpoint for others. Of course, anything that involves catching, and potentially harvesting, spawning fish is bound to draw some opposition from at least a few anglers and even some fisheries managers.
Call them what you will — Appaloosa, goujon, yellow cat, shovelhead, mud cat or any of a half dozen other names — the flathead catfish is rightfully the king of the aquatic jungle. While they share some characteristics with blue and channel cats, they are, in many ways, a different breed of cat.
The headwaters of the Yazoo River begin with the Coldwater River near the Tennessee state line, and flow southward to where they meet the Tallahatchie River in Tallahatchie County. Along the way, the Coldwater’s flow is subsidized by the waters of Moon Lake in Coahoma County via the Yazoo Pass.
Catfish jugging used to be a common sport around big and small lakes and farm ponds, but folks seem to have gotten away from it as a popular catfishing tactic. Well, that is except for a few folks like John Mark Cockrell of Brandon who has just recently rediscovered not only the fun of running jugs for catfish but also the productivity of the angling strategy.
Few can argue that there is a fish more enjoyable to fish for and catch than the catfish. Nearly every farm pond has an ample supply, and just about any type gear and bait combo is sure to land one of these tasty critters.
Beginning somewhere about mid to late April, an absolute madness falls upon countless bodies of water across Mississippi. It is a frenzy, a panic of sorts that can keep the angler occupied for hours at a time. It can be intense.