Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I figured I would do some fishing last night, just around sunset. It was crazy hot, just like every other day recently, but I thought it might be fun to catch a couple topwater bass. I headed to the local pond, tied on my red and white topwater lure (zara spook?) and worked it across the water.

First catch on the red and white beck-spook
(back in Michigan fishing with my buddy Mark)
There was almost no surface activity. Any feeding was happening below the surface. Stubbornly, I tried every retrieve I could think of to coax the bass to the surface. Something I read earlier came to mind, something like "Find out what the fish want, not what you want to fish with."

I reached into my pack and pulled out a hotdog. I broke off a piece, strung it on a big hook, and carefully cast it out into the pond. I stuck the rod butt in a hole in the pipe and set to work rigging a tube on my other rod. I thought it would be nice to give the bass a break and see if any cats were around. (Read: the bass weren't biting the one lure I threw for 10 minutes so I'd fish for another species.)

Almost immediately the rod tip started to dance. Fish! I dropped my rod and grabbed the other rod from the pipe hole, but the fish was gone, and he took the hotdog. Fair enough, fish. Fair enough.

I put another piece of hotdog on the hook, cast it out, and started working the tube with my other rod. Some guys were making their way around the pond, clearly headed home after a fishing trip. As they walked by I said hello.

"Hey what do you catch in here.. catfish?" they asked.

"Yeah, and bass and bluegill" I replied.

"Bass!? There are bass in here?" They were incredulous. I wondered if I shouldn't have told them. Would they come back and leave their sh*$ everywhere like some other fishermen? I decided I shouldn't jump to conclusions and give them the benefit of the doubt.

"Yeah man," I said. "Lots of bass, mostly small ones [I measured with my hands] but there are a couple bigger ones."

"Oh wow, cool man. You ever fish for catfish?"

"Yeah, I've caught some nice ones here, one big one a few weeks back, around 27"

"Ok cool.. Hey you want some catfish bait?"

I appreciated their offer, but the main reason I haven't fished with any "catfish bait" is I don't want to touch a bunch of disgusting rotting meat or anything. Also I have plenty of luck with my own bait, but I didn't want to offend them.

"Oh thanks man, I appreciate it, but I've got some hotdog already."

"Hotdog? Man, you can't catch anything on hotdogs!"

As un-douchey as I could manage, "Actually the biggest cat from this pond was on a hotdog!"

Maybe they thought I was joking. They didn't seem to believe me, and took that as their cue to leave. I was serious, but I'm aware sometimes it's hard to tell if I'm being serious. We wished each other luck, and they headed on their way. I turned my attention back to the pond, where there seemed to be more activity happening than before.

The bugs were bad. The sun was down. It was dark. Mosquitos found every inch of my sweat-drenched skin and drilled. My jeans and hiking boots protected the lower half of me but it seemed to concentrate the bugs on my upper half.

After a while I gave up on bass fishing and concentrated on finding a nice cat. Any cat, really, I just wanted to catch a catfish. I wondered if they'd be more active than the bass with these insane temperatures and water like some tea that sat out for a few minutes. Warm to the touch.

And just when I was ready to pack it in, my rod once again became animated. Then it stopped. I grabbed it, waiting to set the hook... The movement picked up again, I set the hook (Jeremy Wade style, of course) and the fight was on!

I had set my drag pretty loose to prevent a fish from taking my rod and to make the fight more interesting. In the dusk light, I couldn't make out the fish yet, but it felt pretty big. My drag screamed as the fish took out line, heading to the bottom. Then it came toward me, almost tangling in a bunch of weeds- I thought I was going to loose it! I wondered if my drag should be tighter. I tightened it.

I saw the fish, a big channel cat, just like I guessed. I felt proud I could identify it by its fight. A great looking fish! Because of my light line and loose drag, I really had to work the fish to get it in. I couldn't just muscle it in, I had to wait until it was ready.

When it was, I grabbed it, took some pictures, and admired my catch.

Of course I forgot to weight it or measure it.
Right after I released it I pulled out my ruler.
I estimate about 28" long. Whoohoo!
I don't know why catfish get such a bad rap; they're really awesome animals. They're tough, they get big, and their whole body is a nose. They can smell better than some dogs. That's pretty awesome, I think.

I took the fish to the water and held it there for a moment, allowing it to get its bearings. It casually swam away, and it reminded me of an actual cat, its tail moving back and forth like it just didn't care.

Turns out, yes you can catch fish on hotdogs.


  1. I like your torpeedo prop bait, the picture of the catfish is not showing up for me. Might be my work computer though.

  2. Yeah Dan, none of the pictures on CBs site show for me through my VPN or at work. CB- Do you host your images somewhere else?
    Great story! Ill see the pics another day..
    I used HotDogs on the DPR and caught crayfish.. little thieves!


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