I truly believe that really great anglers are born with an uncanny ability to catch fish or at least the burning desire to learn how to catch fish. Stubby Stubblefield who resides on the shores of Lake Fork in east Texas is a good case in point. “Stubby” spent his time as a touring bass pro in his younger years, guided for years for a variety of species and then, about 12 years ago, decided to slow down and concentrate on catching catfish. At the time, the catfish bait market was dominated by smelly baits that leave a smell on the angler and his boat that is pretty tough to remove! As the saying goes, “Ajax wouldn’t even take it off”! Even today, most channel catfish anglers use a variety of one of these smelly concoctions.
Stubby went to work developing what became “Stubby’s Catfish Bait”.
I first discovered Stubby’s bait a couple years ago and I must admit I had my doubts if any bait that didn’t smell to high heaven would catch channel catfish. I brought along a “punch stick” so that I wouldn’t have to handle the bait with my hands. To my great surprise, this bait actually smelled “kind of good”, well maybe not good but not unpleasant at all. It also caught catfish- as good as any of the smelly baits I had used in my many years of catfishing.
My late winter fishing trip with Stubby a couple days ago provided the answers to many questions about catching channel catfish in cold water. Stubby keeps several “holes” baited with range cubes and this keeps the catfish concentrated.
“Feed them and they will come”, kidded Stubby as he tossed a double handful of range cubes into some water almost 30 feet deep at the junction of a couple of creek channels. “I have several “go to” spots on the lake where we can catch catfish year around, regardless of the water temperature” says Stubby as he hands me a spinning rod with a #4 treble hook and a bucket of his bait.
“My bait is dense enough to sink so we don’t need to use a weight to keep it down. Just ball the bait on the hook, making sure to cover all the barbs and let it down until you feel bottom, then take the slack out of your line. There are tons of catfish down there but the bite will be soft in this cold water. Give them time to “mouth” the bait and when you seen the line moving, set the hook, HARD.
I missed a couple of bites because the instance I saw my line twitch, I jerked the bait out of the fishes mouth. But I can be a quick study when it comes to fishing. Stubby had two chunky cats in the cooler when I mastered the technique and then I helped him fill a couple of limits.
Stubby predicts this cold water bite will continue until around April when the spawning urge causes the fish to move into shallow water in the back of coves. This is when Stubby uses his bait under a floater and enjoys catching fish that are extremely aggressive.
“To me, there is nothing like watching that cork disappear and setting the hook on a feisty catfish. It’s really a relaxing way to catfish. With the boat anchored, we fan cast all around it, targeting the edge of brush or weed lines.”
About the first of May, Stubby will go back to his baited holes, in water 15-20 feet deep and enjoy some of the fast paced action that only a greedily feeding school of channel catfish in warm water can provide.
Stubby has reached a relaxing stage of his fishing career. “I’m in my mid sixties and although making the bait started as an experiment to develop bait for my own use, it has become so popular I find myself sometimes working harder than I had planned keeping up with the demands. But, I love what I do. I still guide catfish trips, not because I have to but because I thoroughly enjoy putting clients on catfish and introducing them to a bait that is actually pleasant to use.”
To learn more about catching channel catfish or to purchase Stubby’s bait or book a trip, give Stubby a call at 903-520-3635 or 817-366-5492.
HOG POISONING UPDATE: A judge in Austin invalidates Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's illegal emergency rule that would have allowed warfarin poison across Texas. This is a temporary fix, only until March 30. There is a huge number of people vehemently opposed to this plan that should never have been proposed. To voice your concern, visit www.wildboarmeats.com and sign the petition. Also take a minute and email your State representative and senator. Let them know how you feel about the use of introducing poison to our great outdoors. To locate their email address, visit www.house.state.tx.us/members/find-your-representative.