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It's called Fishing not Catching
September 2010

My son and I went trolling for catfish one day and caught 27 channel cats with a combined weight of somewhere over 70 pounds. Two days later we took some friends trolling in the same area and was only able to catch five. I called one our friends after fishing that day and his wife answered and asked how we did fishing. I said, "not nearly as good as we did the other day." "Well, that's why they call it fishing and not catching", she said. That is so right on, I thought to myself and that saying has stayed with me ever since. 

I don't think I would enjoy fishing as much as I do if I was able to catch fish when ever I wanted. Think about something you have mastered and how redundant it was and how less interesting it was after you mastered it. Not so with fishing because the learning never stops. Every year I learn something new. It is a never ending learning experience. Show me someone that says they have mastered fishing and I'll show you a liar.

I wrote an article where I predicted that this year would be a great year for catfishing if we have high water and hot temperatures. Because I believed and still do, that high water and warm temperatures put blue and channel catfish on the move drawing them up from the lower parts of the Missouri River. We had exactly those conditions on the Missouri 
and Big Sioux rivers and I would have to say that it was somewhat of a poor year for catching catfish.

The Cat Attack catfish tournaments, hosted by the city of South Sioux City, NE, have a day and a night time tournament. This year in both tournaments combined teams weighed in a total of 152 catfish weighing 326.1 pounds, compared to last years 209 catfish weighing 826.85 pounds. The heaviest single catch weighed in by a team at this years events was 26.4 pounds caught by the team of Travis Carter of Elk Point, SD and Dan Foss of Onawa, IA. Last years heaviest single catch was 64.25 pounds caught by the team of Keith Copenhaver of Sioux City, IA and Chris Sharp of Merrill, IA. Why such a stark difference? It could be that with the high water catfish just had more placed to be and were more scattered. Maybe with all the heavy rains there was more food being washed into the water, making them less likely to bite. Maybe a lot of them just left town. No one can say for sure and that's the mystery about fishing that I love.

Tournaments are a great place to go to become a better fishermen. I don't care if it's Walleye, Bass, or Catfish tournaments. There is no better place to gage your performance. If you do well great, but if not you know changes need to be made. I have learned lots talking with other anglers and comparing their tactics with mine. I have noticed while fishing tournaments that there is always some teams that are consistently finishing at the top. I believe a couple things that these teams have in common is a willingness and a know on how to change with the conditions. 

High water, low water, weather, water temperature, current, no current, time of year, time of day, and I could go on, are all conditions that a fishermen has to contend with and adjust to. A successful angler must have a respect for this and be willing to make the necessary changes.

Change, change, change. Now there's something we've all heard, but it's something you must do in fishing. Changing tactics had be hard to do especially if you have had success in the particular tactic your using. But sometimes you must if want to be as consistent as possible at catching fish.

I'm 41 years old and I have been fishing for as long as I can remember and I still don't fully know how fish will react to a cold front, or a heavy rain, or any other change in conditions. I have some ideas based on experience but those ideas can't be counted on totally. So if your unable to establish a pattern and unable to put as many fish in the boat as you would like don't sweat it, that's why they call it fishing and not catching.

~ Pat Carter
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