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European technique to his fishing
By Tim Scott
Feb. 10, 2005 - For centuries, fishermen
have tinkered with special baits, oddball techniques, and even
devices that would allow them to magically catch fish. The "wonder
bait" that would let people catch big fish at will has been
like the search for the holy grail at best- but one catfish guide
has come close, thanks to some ancient and exclusive knowledge
combined with a little new-age ingenuity.
As we tweak our knowledge
of big fish behavior, we learn where huge cats live and fine-tune
what it takes to get them to strike. Many astute catfishermen
- especially flathead aficionados, have found that big cats frequently
hold in areas for long periods of time but don't necessarily
eat every day. When "Joe Fisherman" has time to be
on the water, are the big cats feeding? Probably not.
"It's just the law
of averages," said Denny Halgren, 30-year flathead veteran
and catfish guide known for landing numbers of huge cats every
"I fish for flatheads
almost every day of the season, which is sometimes as many as
130 days, many of them back to back. I know where the big flatheads
live, what baits and presentations to use, and am consistently
accurate with bait placement - but on some days that's not enough.
Some days the big flatheads simply won't take a bait," Halgren
Several years ago, Halgren
heard about an ancient instrument that when plunged into the
water and swiftly pulled backwards, would create a unique sound
that would stir inactive cats into investigating the area. A
fishing light switch of sorts, that could turn lethargic cats
into aggressive feeding cats.
anglers used what they called a clonk to get huge wels cats to
bite and I asked myself why wouldn't it work on predatory catfish
here?" Halgren said. "Flatheads act a lot like wels
cats. They both seem to be ambush predators, preferring to sit
and wait for live fish to come to them. I've never fished for
the European cat, but I saw a resemblance in the fish itself.
They both are uniquely camouflaged, prefer similar habitat, and
both get huge. I didn't jump blindly into using a clonk, I just
wanted to experiment with one and see for myself if they really
worked on flatheads."
Halgren methodically experimented
with a primitive wooden design for about eight years and to his
surprise, some amazing results started to stack up.
"It's not a science.
It's more of an art to getting the clonk to work on flatheads.
It really didn't take long for me to get the right sounds out
of the clonk and I wanted to make sure it was actually the clonk
having an effect instead of just being at the right place at
the right time, so it took awhile for me to make a sound decision,"
Halgren has come to learn
a lot about flathead behavior in rivers over the years through
experience. Rain, shine, high water, low water, hot weather,
cool temps, low or high-pressure fronts- Halgren has fished them
all without preference. In the search for the best big fish scenario,
he wanted to make sure that a trophy flathead equation wasn't
simply a fact of just the right combination of Mother Nature's
fickle disposition and being there when they wanted to eat.
Over the years, the Rock
River flatheader has developed an astounding talent for landing
huge flatheads, boating hoards of flatheads over 40 pounds, scads
of 50 plus pound fish, several flatheads over 70 and even some
topping 80, a few that clipped 90 and at least one besting 100
pounds! This wouldn't be such an amazing feat if anglers on the
same waters were catching big fish as well, but it's just not
the case. Flathead anglers on the Rock report catching some big
flatheads but not many can even hold a candle to Halgren's big
"I think it's a matter
of experience and time on the water." Halgren answered when
asked about his amazing catches. "The Rock isn't an easy
river to fish, let alone figure out all the little things. Even
with the successes I've had I was still looking for something
more and I may have found it."
Fish are complex creatures
short of a thinking brain. Their physical attributes alone tells
us that they use many highly developed senses to locate food
in murky waters, recognize their own species, return to their
spawning grounds, and even sense how deep they are by feeling
the slightest water pressure changes. Fisheries science discovered
that all fish use their lateral lines to detect vibrations given
off by the swimming or struggling motion of preyfish in the area,
and catfish are especially equipped to use this unique apparatus
to their full advantage.
Could the frequency of
the sound waves made by using a "clonking" device stir
big catfish from inactivity to actively looking for food by jolting
their instinctual feeding response into action?
"I can't say that
it does for a fact, but I also can't believe that using the American
equivalent called the Catfish Caller and landing big cats immediately
afterwards - even when the bite is tough is purely a coincidence.
Either I'm the luckiest angler on the planet or the caller works.
I don't use it until the day proves to be a tough bite and it
seems to produce some amazing results. So amazing that I don't
think you'd believe it until you saw it with your own eyes,"
Here is a video talking about the Catfish Caller and how to use it.
The Catfish Caller can
be purchased in Zeiner's Angler Supply at 737 S. Washington in Wichita or ordered from Zeiner's by clicking below.
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