Catfish Programs Yield Big Fish









July, 2010

I'm a catfish guide, and absolutely love connecting people with catfish. There are three types of catfish in the James River near Richmond ... the channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish. Channel catfish can be caught, but generally when you go, you'll catch either blues or flatheads. In general, the tidal James is the home of blue catfish, while the non-tidal James (upriver of downtown Richmond) is the home of flathead catfish. Both get big, offer an absolute blast for both kids and adults.

Over the past week I connected a couple of groups with flathead catfish. The first group was a wonderful summer camp full of kids from Cat's Cap, a summer program run through St. Catherine's School. The second group was a fine assemblage of adult anglers through a Department of Game & Inland Fisheries program called "Flat-Out Catfish".  One of the aspects of the Flat-Out Catfish Program is the people who sign up. We usually have twelve or thirteen people each time we run this program, and they are from all over Virginia. Literally every class has constituents from all parts of the state, and nearly all are traveling hours to get to the James River to learn about how to catch these fun fish.

One of my favorite things to do during the connecting of people and fish is to take pictures. The following are images I took during this fantastic week of work.

DGIF Flat-Out Catfish program images.  Thirteen attendees, myself, Chris Dunnavant (DGIF Angling Ed Coordinator) and about a half dozen DGIF volunteers met at Pony Pasture for a day of instruction and fishing the river for flathead catfish. About 25 fish were landed with the biggest fish of the day being 27 pounds.  

Top of page, Left: Trying to land a flathead catfish by hand gets tricky. Gloves are a must! Here, volunteer instructor, Billy, gets nailed in the face with the splash of a flathead cat's tail as takes off at lightning speed.  After laughing it off, Billy grabbed the flathead's mouth and landed it for one of the attendees.

To the Right:  Michael, another of the volunteer instructors for the DGIF event, watches as a big flathead swims away after a perfect catch, photograph & release.

Below Right:  A happy FlatOut attendee with a nice flathead catfish.

 Left: Another happy wader from the Flat-Out Catfish program.

 Left, below:  Carol is all smiles holding her best fish of the day.  Not exactly sure of the size, but I'm guessing it was close to 20 pounds.  Nice fish Carol .... Hope to see you out there again on August 10, for Round II of Flat-Out Catfishing on the James. 










Cat's Cap Summer Program images.  We me met at the Meadow on the James. I took six at a time, and two Cat's Cap instructors on two rafts and out on the James for a few hours of catfishing.  I could not tell who had a better time ... the kids or the counselors seeing the kids having a great time! While not everyone caught a fish, every attendee was able to see, hold and marvel at these wonderful fish.  A number of them even kissed their fish before releasing them back into the river. Here are a couple of images from the day.

Left:  Smiling girls.  These two were a part of a group of six girls that caught a heck of a lot of big flatheads, including three that weighed over 20 pounds.

 Below Right:  A young man practices the art of "Thinking Fish".  This is his rendition of 'Thinking Fish', but in actuality, "Think Fish" means to picture yourself underwater, near your lure or bait and imagining all the activity around it.  The goal is to visualize as much as you can about the underwater surroundings, and when the fish hits your lure or bait, you'll be ready.












Above, left:  Another happy camper.  This youngster caught her first fish, which happens to weigh 25 pounds.  As she reeled in the great fish with such ease, it was a total surprise to me that this was her first fish ever.  Good stuff.

 --Capt. Mike