Maryland’s upper Chesapeake Bay is loaded with BIG channel catfish.
One day out on my boat with a couple fishin’ buddies, after trolling around for some stripers, (We call ’em ROCK here on the Bay), we decided to anchor up at one of my spots and do some bottom fishing for those BIG channel cats.
As usual we started catching them right away. I then decide that rather than later, I would go ahead and fillet them out on the boat as we caught them. I broke out my cutting board and laid it on top the inboard/outboard engine cover. It makes a perfect cleaning station. Now I grab my filet knife and pliers.
I then proceed to SKIN a catfish. If you’ve ever done this, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I make a skin deep cut around the head behind the gills without cutting the belly at all. Next, with my pliers I grab the skin at the incision and rip it right off the end of the tail. Now my catfish is perfectly skinned except for the head, belly area and guts which are totally unharmed and intact.
With my knife, I remove both slabs of meat from each side of the backbone above the ribs. I still hadn’t cut any bone or belly yet and I, having my fillets, throw the fish overboard.
A second later my one buddy yells out, “HEY TOM, THAT CATFISH IS SWIMMING!”
Sure enough, I don’t think that “Poor Sm’ Bitch” even knew what just happened to him. Even if he did , there wasn’t much he could do about it. He was just……Swimming Away…… just like nothing ever happened.
We had a great time that afternoon, drinking beer and carrying on. Filleting and releasing a couple dozen channel cats, and watching them swim away….
We were making up stories about what the other cats thought when their buddies came swimming back down without any meat on their bones…WE WERE LAUGHING OUR GUTS OUT!… It really didn’t seem all that abnormal to me and I did get a kick out of it!… Although I’m sure the catfish didn’t think it was very funny. Anyway, what was I supposed to do?…Stab them in the head a couple times before throwing them over?… Sometimes at watering holes, this is one of my favorite “TRUE” fishing stories to tell.
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