It seems like everything coming across our screens today is a grim reminder of our current global pandemic. That being said, this is, unfortunately, our reality. We need healthy time killers and positive distractions. Many of us live in urban settings and escaping to the wilderness to recreate isn’t always a realistic option. Mountain lakes and clear running streams will always be my first choice when taking a fishing trip, but when the mountains are out of reach, I’ve found a suitable, actually downright fun, alternative.
Most cities around our country have robust fish stocking programs for urban ponds and lakes. Depending on your location, this can consist of a variety of species: catfish, bass, bluegill, and trout are the usual suspects. In our city, catfish are stocked throughout the summer month followed by trout in the winter. Most of these stocking programs are put-and-take. Meaning, fish are stocked with the intention of anglers taking them home to eat. Of course, there are still legal regulations set in place to limit the number of fish that can be taken. The importance of following these regulations is not only to keep you legal but to also ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the resource.
My kids and I have a secret method we use that makes us the envy of the pond more times than not; we’re going to share it with you. This is a European carp fishing method that takes some special equipment and bait, but it’s worth it for a couple of reasons. One, the pride on a seven-year-old boy’s face when he hears neighboring fishermen trying to figure out how they are being out fished by a kid. And two, the opportunity to hook into bonus carp that regularly get above ten pounds and with fish in the twenty-pound range not uncommon. These carp might not always be the first choice when it comes to table fare but they will give a child the fight of their life.
The center of our method is aptly named “method lead." A quick Google search will get you a better visual than I can describe here. You’ll also find inexpensive options for ordering them and videos showing how to rig them. In short, the system is comprised of a lead that’s designed to hold a pack bait (see recipe below) with a short three to four-inch leader and a hook baited with a couple of kernels of corn. We will take a handful of our bait and tightly pack it around the method lead followed by pushing our baited hook right into the top of the whole mess. We’ll then gently cast the fist-sized ball of bait wherever we think the catfish will be waiting. When the bait ball has settled to the bottom, it will begin to disintegrate leaving an irresistible cloud of fish attractant with your baited hook lying right in the middle. The catfish (and carp) can’t resist it and when things get going, it can be difficult to keep three rods baited and in the water in between hookups.
Pack bait ingredients:
Panko bread crumbs X 2 boxes
Strawberry jello powder X1 box
Canned corn (drained) X 3
Canned hominy X1
Place all ingredients in a bucket, or another similar container, in the order listed above and mix thoroughly. It's best to do this the night, or at least a couple hours, before your fishing trip to help with consistency and holding together.
While this method takes a bit more effort than just gobbing a nightcrawler on a hook, it will pay you back ten-fold in crispy golden fried catfish filets and some much-needed distraction from our current state of affairs.
Need a catfish recipe? Look no further! Try Michael's southern-fried catfish recipe here!