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June 17, 2010
Catfish in Lake Fork? Who Knew?
ATHENS—Stan Kuhn knew. So did Kenneth Jones. Both Lake Fork fishing guides have been putting clients on Lake Fork’s plentiful blue, channel and flathead catfish for years.
Most people think of big bass when they think of Lake Fork, and for good reason. The lake has produced 246 of the 504 entries into the Toyota ShareLunker program, an angler recognition and selective breeding program that uses 13-pound or bigger bass.
Even bigger fish lurk in Lake Fork, and all of them have whiskers. Rod-and-reel anglers have landed blue catfish weighing 71.5 pounds, channel cats weighing 17.73 pounds and flathead catfish tipping the scale at 75 pounds. From Lake Fork, the Bass Capital of the World.
Trotliners have done even better. The all-tackle record for Lake Fork blue catfish is 89 pounds, for channel catfish 25.33 pounds and for flatheads 100 pounds.
Even fly-fishers have gotten into the act, using wooly buggers and flashy clousers to land catfish in excess of eight pounds.
Lake Fork really shines, though, when it comes to producing “eating-size” catfish, those from the legal 12-inch length weighing about a pound on up to 10 pounds or so. Guides Kuhn (903/383-2921) and Jones (214/850-5525) regularly put clients onto fishing spots that can fill up an ice chest in a hurry. On a recent trip on Lake Fork, Kuhn’s three anglers caught 38 channel cats weighing a total of 101 pounds from the same hole in little over two hours.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries biologist Aaron Jubar wants anglers to take advantage of Lake Fork’s bounty.
“Throughout its history, Lake Fork has been synonymous with trophy largemouth bass, and anglers have long known about the excellent crappie fishery in the reservoir,” Jubar said. “Over the past decade, we have watched the catfish population explode with an abundance of harvestable channel catfish, but the number of anglers targeting these fish remains relatively low. We want to make anglers aware of this opportunity. This fishery is nothing short of phenomenal, and it gives anglers even more reason to visit Lake Fork.”
In addition to Lake Fork, numerous other lakes in Texas provide anglers with outstanding catfish fishing, according to Dave Terre, TPWD’s chief of management and research for Inland Fisheries. “I think most of our larger reservoirs are under-exploited for catfish, especially channel catfish,” Terre said. “It blows me away to see the quality of our catfish populations. Clearly, we have some of the best catfishing opportunities in the country.”
For those who can’t make it to a large lake to fish or just want to fish an hour or two close to home with friends or family, TPWD provides the Neighborhood Fishin’ program. Channel catfish are stocked into selected lakes every two weeks during most of the year in nine urban areas. In addition, catfish are stocked annually into dozens of community fishing lakes in every part of the state. Visit http://archive.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/recreational/wheretofish/ to find fishing opportunities near you.
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