I highly recommend hiring a a guide the first time you fish for a new species or in a new area. Hiring a guide does not guarantee a good fishing trip, but it will teach you how and where to fish. Also, guides usually have the specialized equipment needed to fish an area. In this case, our guide provided a 24' Carolina Skiff and 9 heavy rods and reels. I don't have this equipment and cannot afford to buy it.
The weather was COLD. The temperature was in the low 30's with a 17 mph wind. It snowed most of the day.
After meeting our guide at the marina, we headed out to catch some bait. I found this very interesting. We used a gill net to catch several very large gizzard shad. This introduction to gill nets has really perked my interest......
After catching the bait, we zoomed over to a creek to get out of the bitter cold wind. Our guide went to a spot with some structure and we cast out nine chunks of bait in a fan pattern.
In less than 15 minutes I broke my personal best catfish with a 57 pound monster!
Seeing such a large fish come out of a seemingly small creek was surreal.
15 minutes after my big fish, my dad caught the biggest of the day. A 62 pound brute!
Look at the mouth on that thing!
We hopped from place to place, getting a few nibbles, but nothing substantial. After a couple hours, we moved further up the creek to an area covered with sunken barges. We could see their tips sticking out of the water.
It was next to one of these barges that I caught the hardest fighter of the day, a 41 pounder!
This fish was one of the hardest fights I have ever encountered. It peeled a ton of drag that was set to 12 pounds. It did not want to come in!
We hit a string of "small" cats. On a normal day we would have been excited to catch these fish, but compared to a 62 pound cat, a 12 pounder is a minnow.
All the large fish were released. You aren't supposed to eat fish over 10 pounds out of the James River. The pollution is too bad, they turn toxic. I wouldn't have kept them anyway. I don't like killing big fish, they bring me too much joy!
Between the two of us we caught over 200 pounds of catfish, two citations each! Not a bad day!
I did keep a little 8 pounder for dinner. All that catfishing got me in the mood for fried catfish and hush-puppies!