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Fileting Catfish


By Holt Collier

A lot of folks don’t like catfish because it tastes “too fishy” or “like mud”. The reason is many folks just don’t know how to properly prepare the meat. The source of this undesirable flavor is the red tissue that is attached to the meat. If you remove this, it makes a night and day difference and makes catfish of all sizes enjoyable table fare. To remove this, the first thing you do after dressing your fish is to soak the filets overnight in water in the refrigerator or in ice water in a cooler or something. This is very important as it swells and firms the meat so it’s much easier to work with and trim. You then get a sharp filet knife and a cutting board and begin trimming as illustrated below. Once you’ve done that, it’s a good idea to cut the thicker filets into thinner pieces, that way they fry up crispier. The end result is also pictured below:

Petit Jean Mountain – Where my heart is.

In honor of the upcoming Valentine’s day, I’d like to tell you about a place I love, Petit Jean Mountain. PJ has a lot to offer for a family outing. There are extensive camping areas, cabins for those that don’t care for tents and don’t have an RV, Lake Bailey for fishing, boating ( no motors over 10 hp, sorry ski enthusiasts), and some swimming. There is a stream/river that runs down the mountain from Bailey with several pools along the way and Cedar Falls.

Cedar Falls

Petit Jean is where Winthrop Rockefeller (our 37th Governor) called home. He and his son Winthrop Paul Rockefeller contributed and continue to contribute to the enrichment of the world and the pride of the Arkansas people. What started as a breeding ranch for Santa Gertrudis cattle has turned into Winrock International, a world wide organization fighting hunger, poverty and global warming thru the use of agriculture, training, and technology. See https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/winrock-international-3042/ for more information. Thanks to Governor Rockefeller we have an airport on top of Petit Jean and the Museum of Automobiles which just added a 1981 Delorean to its collection.

Museum of Automobiles


The Arkansas River winds around the base of Petit Jean on its way to the Mississippi, supplying a whole different fishing and boating experience. I don’t suggest swimming in it. Some of the fish and other animals might see you as supper and the current is tricky and sometimes vicious. I spent one of the best days of my life on that river with my father and my cousin Terry. We went up river to a pile some and hit into the wildest white bass action that I have ever seen. Terry and I were pulling them in as fast as we could throw, while my dad was jigging with a fly rod next to the dike poles and pulling in some real nice black bass and crappie. And I think I remember him catching a couple of nice Channel Cats. Days like that stick with you even after over 40 years.

I hope that some of you come on up and explore Petit Jean Mountain with its beautiful landscape, terrific hiking trails, camping,and cabins. Oh, there are a couple of motels up there, too. The fishing and the history (look up the Legend of Petit Jean) , the lookouts, and the scenery are hard to beat.



A person who eats no other meat than fish.

I don’t know about you folks but with catfish, bass, crappie, and even bream around I think that I could handle that lifestyle. I pretty much grew up that way as it is. Some fried chicken and hamburgers along the way, usually during the winter. Spring and summer were for fishing and fish fries on the river. Fried hushpuppies, French fries and corn on the cob. If y’all excuse me I have flung a craving on myself and need to shovel some food.


Lamiglas Rods And Nostalgia

I am a very sentimental and nostalgic person and tend to promote things that bring that out in me. I recently added some Lamiglas rods to our website for this reason. I have a rod stored and ready to go in my shed that is older than any of my kids. As a matter of fact it is nearly older than ME. It is a 5’6″ solid fiberglass Lamiglas rod that my parents bought when I was just a kid.

It has been thru a lot in the past 50-60 years. Fishing on the Buffalo River, near the dam, on a cool foggy autumn morning. Walking the streams and the banks of Bill Shoals Lake during a summer when it was still considered safe to drink water straight from a stream. Bass Fishing on DeGray Lake, Lake Hamilton, and Lake Ouachita. Crappie fishing from a boat with jigs (I remember Mom using a bright purple one, it worked) and eating crackers, cheese and bologna on Lake Nimrod. Bass and catfishing on top of Petit Jean Mountain at both small lakes up there. Catfishing at the bottom of Petit Jean on the Arkansas River with the kinfolk and having wonderful fish fries and card games afterwards.  And of course fishing on Papagofur’s Pond.

I reckon that rod has been on every piece of water within a 100 mile radius of here. It is an essential part of my memories from the past to the present. The threads and some of the eyes may have been replaced and the cork of the handle is slowly crumbling away but it is still just as good a rod as ever. That’s why I have a soft spot in my heart for Lamiglas rods and recommend them.

11 Things You Must Know Before You Befriend Someone From Arkansas

Huddle up, Arkansans. We need to talk about all the things people need to know about us before they become our friends. Below you’ll find a primer we should send out to folks who want to hang out with us. So, after you read this amazing list of truths about you, you should definitely send it to all your out-of-state friends, just so they know what they’re in for.


For the ten commandments Arkansans live by, click here. If you want to know about the dos and don’ts of visiting Arkansas, try this one.

7 Hiking Trails in Arkansas

No fish, just beauty

One of our favorite spots to fish from the bank on the Arkansas River. It’s usually a hot bed of activity, but not today. The pictures above show why a day spent fishing is never wasted. It doesn’t matter if you catch anything or not. Just being out in nature and seeing the beauty that surrounds us has a calming and yet invigorating effect on us.

Getting Night Crawlers For Bait

The best time to hunt for night crawlers is just before dark after a nice rain.  This is especially true from late spring thru to early fall. Of course you can’t arrange for perfect conditions every time you want to go fishing. In the absence of rain you can use your water hose to dampen the ground sufficiently. Rake around in the built up grass and leaves around the house. You have to admit we NEVER get it all raked up. Now we have an excuse not to do it! Night crawlers love dampness and organic materials.

Let’s say you are having trouble getting them to show themselves. You’ve seen the little ant-hill-like piles that show that worms should be there. You KNOW there should be worms in that bed. You have a couple of options:

#1- Wet the ground down and wait them out.

#2- So what my mom called “Poling for worms”, sometimes known as “Fiddling” or “Worm Charming” .

The suggested method is to use a 3″ diameter x 3 ‘ long stake driven 6-8″ deep into the ground. Run a saw back and forth in a steady pattern. They say it mimics the vibration made by a mole digging. It drives the worms up and away to escape the mole. We used a thinner pole and a flat board rubbed across the top to produce the vibration and have been used just the tapping of the hammer. The vibration is the thing. Good vibes being good worms! The ground must be moist.

Winter is the hardest time to find worms. They have a tendency to dig down as much as 6 feet to create a burrow to stay warm and moist during the winter. They do the same thing during droughts but water brings them up then. As long as it’s above freezing it can work on the winter, also. Otherwise you’ll be keeping warm digging 6 ft. deep holes.

During the winter it’s probably better to dig deep into your pocket, go to your local bait shop, and buy the worms! Haha

Catfishing In South Arkansas

November 6th, 2019

I had a fun day today. It was also a broke day. My sister-in-law woke me at 7 am to go fishing with her husband Luther. Around 8:30 I finally rolled out of bed, snagged some coffee and 2 cheese sandwiches and off we went. We started setting up for a day of catfishing and that’s when it started. First I broke his rod holder trying to put it in the ground. Next I sat down in the folding chair I had borrowed from him and went right thru the webbing to the ground, feet stuck up in the air and laughing like a loon. Then a little later I jerked back on my rod and it felt like I had a big one on the line, but it turned out to be what we call a ” wood bass”, a piece of brush. It gave me a real fight cause IT was hung up on a piece of line that I had lost YESTERDAY. I did get my hook and worm back. We were fishing with night crawlers/ cold worms down on the bottom DEEP. I was using a catfish rod with an open face reel and 17lb test line. About 1pm I put on the last worm we had and said that I had better make this one count. A couple of minutes later I got a bite , reared back and the fight was on. No “wood bass” this time. I was pulling and reeling and fighting like those guys you see on the seafishing shows. I had to get up out of my (new) chair and follow it up and down the bank, kicked over my Coke, liked to have run over the chair that I had already broken and finally got it up to the surface where we could look at it. A great big catfish, the biggest that I have ever caught. There he was at the bottom of a 12 foot high, almost straight up and down bank. Hooboy was I excited and a little tired. I still needed to get him up that bank. I’d pull him up a little ways and get hung behind a root or an out jutting piece of clay and have to start over. Finally I got him pulled over to a sandy area where I might could get him up. I couldn’t use the rod and reel because the line kept stripping off the reel and the rod was bending so much that I was afraid IT might break. I tried a couple of times to pull it up by the line but couldn’t get a good grasp. Luther came over and took the rod to give me some extra help and I pulled as hard as I could. I got that big ole catfish about half way up AND THE LINE BROKE! 17lb test line broke under the weight of that thing. There it lay on that little piece of sand and us with no way to get it. I started tying on another hook thinking I could snag it and Luther was making a contraption with rope to do the same thing. The fish was just laying there, all tuckered out. Just when I was ready to go snag it, the cotton picker jumped and flipped and swam off. Arrrgh! Aggravated Luther so much he started packing up to go home. Didn’t even finish using the worm on his pole. I wanted to go get some more worms and come right back. That fight had just revved me up. That’s when we found the last broke part of the day. Neither one of us had any money left to buy the worms. We were both BROKE! We ended up with 7 catfish, 3 drums, and one HECK of a memory.