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Lake life

Catching earthquakes

Daniel & Dakota Taylor with a giant D’Arbonne flathead

Dale Taylor is getting all ready to put on one of the biggest bass tournaments in the area June 6 & 7, the annual marathon Majestic Bass Tournament on Lake D’Arbonne. This year’s tournament should have a big field because competitive fishermen have been chomping on the end of their fishing rods wanting to get out and do battle with each other and the bass. You can find out more about the Majestic on Dale’s Facebook Page or pick up a brochure at local sporting goods stores. Don’t miss it!

But today, we’re going to focus some fish in D’Arbonne that could almost EAT a six pound bass. Dale and his grandsons Daniel and Dakota, along with several other lake regulars, have been stacking up giant flathead catfish this spring. The Taylor Trio’s two biggest topped 50 pounds and they’ve put hundreds of pounds of op filets in the freezer this spring.

They’ve been using trotlines, but the summer bite will be better on stump lines. Either way, follow his advice, get you some big bream and give it a try. But first, make sure you do it the right way.

Taylor says some fishermen give trotliners a bad name by putting out lines and leaving them unattended. That’s irresponsible, he says. Never leave a line out that you are not actively fishing. And take them up, don’t just cut them and let them sink to the bottom.

“The correct way to put out a trotline is to tie the line between two stumps and mark it on both ends with a highly visible float or white jug,” he says. “Then make sure you sink the line down far enough to keep it out of people’s way. We put weights on each end just a few feet from the stump and also in the middle. It keeps the line out of the way, plus puts the bait down where the fish are going to be feeding. When you aren’t running your line every day, take it up and get it out of the lake.”

Safety is paramount when dealing with these big fish. When you grab one in the mouth, it’s kind of like grabbing hold of an earthquake.

“It isn’t for the faint or heart, that’s for sure,” Taylor said. “It’s not quite as bad as noodling where you can’t see what you are grabbing, but it’s a handful. In fact, I always keep a sharp knife right beside me because if you got a hook in you while battling one of those big monsters on a line, it could be bad. You need to be able to cut the line if need be. I always cut the drop line with the hook in it when I’m bringing in one of those big ones.”

Dale with 54 pounds of fight and filets — another monster flathead, or Op, catfish

Trotlines and stump hooks aren’t the only way to take advantage of the catfish bite this time of year. You can also catch plenty of catfish on drop lines or rods and reels.

It’s also a great time to get youngsters involved. Here are a couple of shots of area young anglers having fun catching catfish and getting up a good mess of meat for a family fish fry!

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