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Cattin’ The Lone Star State
When it comes to good spots for catching catfish, Texas has no shortage. However, these may be some of the best waters in our state for 2008. (May 2008)
The kids and their adult leaders picked their way down the steep, rocky trail. More experienced, the grownups used sturdy walking sticks to keep their balance; the youngsters -- excited and, to their minds, indestructible -- navigated the trail as gracefully and confidently as mountain goats.
Finally at the bottom of the West Texas canyon, the group spread out along a gray limestone ledge facing a massive, curving limestone overhang known as Painted Cave. Beneath the rock trickled a clear spring-fed creek lined with river cane and fern. A spontaneous chorus of oohs and aahs rose from the 7th and 8th graders as they took in the scene.
Arrayed to left and right as far as the party could see was a series of prehistoric paintings in red monochrome that commanded everyone’s rapt attention. Anthropomorphic figures armed with bows and arrows mixed with realistic drawings of the creatures necessary for the artists’ survival in this arid climate: deer, turkeys -- and catfish.
Yes, thousands of years ago, early Texans had a taste for whiskerfish. And just like all other self-respecting anglers, they felt an urge to record for posterity the big ones that hadn’t gotten away.
The big cats that added much-needed protein to the diet of those long-vanished people came from the nearby Pecos River. And many centuries later, Texans are still pulling big blues and ample channel cats out of that snake-like tributary of the Rio Grande. In fact, the whole state amounts to whiskerfish heaven.
Following: a regional breakdown of what’s hot this year.
Skillet-sized channel cats and grab-your-camera-sized blues abound in this lake, which has some holes deeper than much of the Gulf of Mexico. Cats are found almost anywhere in the lake, with stink bait good for channels and cut natural bait the hot ticket for blues.
The lake’s catfishing is particularly good when the weather’s hot -- and on the border, warm stretches take up a good percentage of the calendar. Shad go deep to play it cool, and so do the slick-skinned set. Anglers looking for big blues use their sonar to find where and how deep they’re hanging out.
Farther down the Rio Grande from Amistad is 83,654-acre Lake Falcon, also an excellent catfish lake. “Falcon used to get a lot of pressure from commercial fishermen,” said game warden Mike Bradshaw, who sometimes works the lake. “Commercial fishing still happens on the Mexican side, but Falcon’s got a lot of catfish.”
Being so far south, it, like Amistad, is practically a year-round fishing hole.
For more information on Lake Amistad, visit www.tpwd.tx.us/ fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/ amistad or contact the National Park Service at (830) 775-7491; for more on the area and a list of fishing guides, check out the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce Web site at www.drchamber.com ; for Lake Falcon information, go to www.tpwd.tx. us/fishboat/fish/recreational/lake/ falcon ; for area information and guides, see www.faclontackle.com .
Covering a portion of the Nueces River and its watershed, this lake offers the grand slam of Texas cats: channels, blues and flatheads.
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