Life & Times In Catfish Country
For as long as I can remember, Doug Stange has been the Editor-in-Chief of In-Fisherman publications. And for the past decade, at least, Doug has also been the on-air host of In-Fisherman Television and more recently of In-Fisherman Ice Guide, two of the most enjoyable, informative and educational fishing shows on TV. Over this time, I have come to call Doug a friend and I look forward to his frequent visits to my neck of the woods here in Northwestern Ontario.
(Doug and I with a beautiful lake trout we caught a few years ago while filming an episode of In-Fisherman Ice Guide television)
Still, it always brings a smile to my face when Doug says he's headed my way to shoot a show, because he is such a hard man to impress. I remember, for example, filming an ice fishing show with him a couple of years back and we were targeting walleyes in February.
During the course of the day, we landed a gorgeous 20-pound lake trout, missed another horse at the hole that was well over 30-pounds, iced a bunch of "accidental" big smallmouth bass, a couple of real nice bonus mid-teen size northern pike and a bunch of big jumbo perch.
But the walleyes, which we were targeting, were in the 16-, 17- and 18-inch "eater size" - not the giants Doug wanted to catch. So, as the sun was setting and we wrapped up the segment, Doug looked forlornly into the camera and said, "What can I say, folks. It is mid-February, the doldrums of winter, and the walleyes are hard to catch!"
None of the other fish, some veritable giants, made it to air!
Just as funny is when a new technique comes along. Doug's as likely to scoff, "That ain't new. We've been doin' that for twenty years" as he is to go gaga over the tactic.
I am sure it has something to do with his growing up in the mid-west United States, Iowa, to be exact, although in Doug's case, it would have been far more fitting for him to have been raised in Missouri, the "Show Me" state.
When it comes to fishing prowess, however, Doug is nothing short of impressive. His ways are truly innovative. Indeed, he has done more to popularize fishing with swimbaits for walleye, pike, bass and muskies than all the other television fishing show hosts and outdoor writers put together. Tie a swimbait to the end of his line and he is a marvel to behold. A veritable wizard with the lure. A fishing machine.
Indeed, if there was ever a competition between Stange and any five other walleye anglers on earth, and you could only use a swimbait, I'd become a rich man betting everything I own on him to win! It would almost be stealing.
Ditto with catfish.
Mention the word catfish and two names immediately come to mind: Doug Stange and Toad Smith. For as long as I can remember, Stange has been writing the best stuff about where, when and how to catch the beautiful whiskered fish. And until his untimely death, some 17 years ago, those stories often included exploits with his best buddy Toad, the huge, toothless, giant of a man. The backwoods philosopher king.
Pure and simply, Stange's writings about catfish, and his good friend Toad, are some of the best fishing words ever put to print. They're perfection. Which is why his new book, Life & Times in Catfish Country is a masterpiece. Something every angler should own and read, even if he or she never wets a line for catfish. Indeed, even if he or she never fishes.
Trust me, the book, a compendium spanning Stange's 30-year long career at In-Fisherman, writing about catfish, and catfishing, among many other things, is a treasure to behold. It is the Bible on the subject and w