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Catfisher’s Prayer Book | Good News

good news

Hope you find this message encouraging.

Get the free, original “How to Hot Rod Your Mud Motor” e-course:

Get the Chicken Liver Cure Recipe PDF:


Long Stem Floats | now $1.25

Short Stem Floats | now $1.00

Short Stem Channel Catfish Floats | Handmade Slip-Bobber | Neo-Vintage Wine Corks

Channel Cat Chummers | now $2.25

Channel Catfish Chummer

Bass Crack Modern Mickey Finns | now $1.16

Modern Mickey Finn (a.k.a. Bass Crack)

Silver Bleeders (Gizzard shad Pattern) | now $1.16

Silver Bleeder | Gizzard Shad Pattern

Threadfin Shad Patterns | now $1.16

Threadfin Shad Pattern

Sipsey Claw Craws | now $1.15

Sipsey Claw Craw | Poly Dodger

Country Cue 1 by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

BWL, vid. Good News


The gospel message has been told many times in many ways throughout the ages. Here I am to tell it again.

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Catfisher’s Prayer Book | of kings and gods

I had a dream. Whether it was the bass or bluegill or channel catfish or the hot sauce or the ketchup or the mustard or the trail mix or the bitter salad, I cannot tell, but I had dream.

I was a god, like Thor. I waged war with other gods against other gods. I took a wife. Her skin would change from light to dark depending on her season in life. We loved and made love.

At some point we came to earth and lived. As long as we lived on earth we never aged. On our own world I had developed a brain tumor. On earth it had gone away.

My time on earth I learned of a sect of people called Christians and the God they worshiped. I told my wife of the Christians and their belief and asked her about our own ancient writings. She knew them for she was made to study them when she was young.

Upon having scribes investigate the ancient writings, I realized the God whom the Christians worshiped was also the God who made us: the gods. We had worshiped ourselves, built halls and temples and systems unto ourselves.

Upon returning to my world, my kingdom had begun to deteriorate. Infighting in our halls threatened to tear the kingdom apart. In a meeting of the gods, tempers flared, each wanting his own way. I screamed until the plaster and pillars cracked. They quieted. A lone voice among the gods spoke honestly toward all happenings, and I knew the God of the Christians was the true, living God.

To the kings and gods of the earth, listen.

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From “The Catfisher’s Prayer Book:” Ingenuity’s Plea

If I had a daughter her name would be Dorian or Ingenuity. Dorian from its musicological perspective is an interesting name, but Ingenuity personified is like Solomon’s personified Wisdom.

Here’s what I mean: Note the picture of the Red Swamp Crawfish in the link: Red Swamp Crawfish from Wikipedia.

Sipsey Claw Craw | Poly Dodger

Note the homemade crawfish pattern in the attached photo. The photo was tied on my fly-tying vise the previous evening. Ingenuity?

Thinking of next season’s fishing, I’ve decided to go with more tried-and-true methods. A tournament bass fisherman once told me that the Black Warrior River is great for spotted bass. I’ve caught several spotted bass in those waters trolling/dragging artificial lures behind the boat.

Spotted bass are much like smallmouth bass, and smallmouth bass love eating crawfish.

Back to the fly-tying vise. Normally I find patterns and recipes for such lures by searching online, but this time Ingenuity whispered.

“Do your own thing.”

It was so tempting to find a list of instructions, some YouTube video, blog post, or some set of plans that would tell me everything to do. No.

“You can do it. Study. Learn. Create.”

Ah, from the mouths of babes! I really believe that in every daughter is the potential to become the queen mother.

The Alabama Department of Conservation has an incredibly detailed log of animal species living in our waters. The red swap crawfish prevails in the Black Warrior. The river bottom above downtown Tuscaloosa is rocky because it is the true beginning of the Appalachian Mountain chain. Crawfish love rocks.

The picture above and fly-tying technique guide were the only references used in making the fly. For two days I observed the photo, noting its color and body shape, its coffee brown body, auburn legs, red polka-dotted pincers, eyes, tentacles and tail.

I bought no new materials, used only what was on hand. Yard for a body, bead chain for eyes, silicon legging for the legs, and brown black widow flash for pincers and tail.

Not to bore you to death, but you see the end result. A great relief and modest smile crept onto my face once finished.

Ingenuity was right. She is Wisdom’s hand-maid. When Wisdom’s house is cluttered, Ingenuity straightens it. She knows how to make more than what she has been given.

She creates. She thinks. She overcomes. She makes problems flee. All those who see her know that she is adorned in sapphire lace. She is strength to a solider and help to the helpless. She brings astronauts back from disaster, and she guides crippled planes to a soft landing on a river.

None is adorned like her. Even Wisdom admires her beauty.

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From the “Catfisher’s Prayer Book:” Big Henry

I sat in my dinky old rowboat, the one with the green paint peeling off, the lettering “Pine Crest Day Camp” barely visible. My fishing pole was propped against the side of the boat as I reached in my pocket and plucked out a peppermint my grandfather had given me earlier that day. The glare of the sun on the candy wrapper made me squint and as I shut my eyes I thought back to the story Granddad had told all us kids just that morning.

“Story! Story! Story!” Suzie screamed impatiently as her tiny fists pummeled Grandad’s knee. At two, my little sister was a constant annoyance because she had to have everything immediately. At ten, I was a man and knew the value in being still and waiting. ‘Course I probably learned that ‘cause Grandad taught me that the first time he took me fishing. But, the screeching didn’t seem to upset Grandad. He just leaned back in his rocker and scratched his whiskered chin and appeared to think. “A story? Well, now, I don’t know if I know of a story.” The gleam in his eye gave him away and my brothers and sisters and cousins all stopped their playing and squabbling and studied him for a moment before running across the yard and settling onto the porch at the foot of Grandad’s rocking chair. “I suppose I could tell you about Big Henry, but, nah, you’d never believe it.” A chorus of “I’d believe it!” rang out and that was enough to get Grandad started.

“Well, let’s see, the first time I encountered Big Henry I was about your size,” Grandad poked me in the chest. “I was out on Lake Wheeler with the Nicholsons. We lived next door to the Nicholsons. Nice folks. Mr. Nicholson was some kind of salesman and traveled a lot and Mrs. Nicholson always had fresh baked cookies. They didn’t have any kids of their own, but they always welcomed the neighborhood kids and loved ‘em just like we were their own.” Some of us started shuffling our feet, getting restless; we already knew all about the Nicholsons. “Anyway,” Grandad continued, “this one Saturday Mr. and Mrs. Nicholson decided to take their boat out and asked me if I wanted to come along. I sure did love being on the water, and I sure did love the Nicholsons, and I especially loved Mrs. Nicholson’s homemade cookies.” Grandad closed his eyes and a slow smile spread across his face as he remembered the taste of those cookies. A few seconds later his eyelids fluttered open and he resumed his story. “An hour later we were out on Lake Wheeler and Mr. Nicholson was showing me how to bait my line and instructing me on when and how to toss it in the water to get a fish to bite. He even joked that if I was really good I might snag me Big Henry.” All us kids took a collective breath and leaned closer. “’Big Henry?’ I asked. ‘Who’s Big Henry?’ ‘Who’s Big Henry?!’ Mr. Nicholson repeated like he’d never heard such a dumb question. But, he went right on and answered me without even pausing for breath. ‘Why, Big Henry’s the biggest catfish in these here waters. Folks say he’s a good sixty pounds.’ I laughed, knowing Mr. Nicholson was just telling me a fish story. I sure hadn’t seen or heard about anybody catching a sixty pound catfish. But, Mr. Nicholson just smiled. A few hours later, we were hot and tired and about ready to head in when I begged to throw the line just one more time. It hit the water with a satisfying plop and almost immediately I hooked a fish. A big one. One so big I couldn’t get it in by myself. Mr. Nicholson came over and helped me reel it in. After a few minutes of struggling I stood there, gaping, while I stared at the fish in the bottom of the boat. A catfish. A catfish as big as I was. Mr. Nicholson clapped me on the back and said, ‘Well, son, you done caught Big Henry!’ I nodded, still too stunned to speak. Mr. Nicholson unhooked him and said, ‘Let’s throw him back now.’ I quickly found my voice. ‘Throw him back? Throw him back? Gee whiz, I’m not throwing him back!’ Mr. Nicholson bent down on one knee and said, ‘Do you know that feeling of pride and joy you have right now from catching Big Henry?’ I bobbed my head slowly. ‘Well, you see, if we throw him back, not only will he continue to grow, but you’ll be giving someone else a chance to have that same feeling.’ As much as I still longed to keep Big Henry, a part of me wanted to have a chance to catch him again so I slid him into the water and promised him I’d be back.”

Grandad paused and the screen door creaked open as Granny came out with a tray of lemonade and a stack of glasses. After we all got a glassful and Granny had bustled off into the house we settled back down. “Well, Grandad,” one of my cousins asked, “did you ever see him again?” “Yeah, did you get a chance to catch Big Henry after that?” another one piped up. “Did I? Did I ever! Let me tell you…” Grandad answered.

“I went fishing on Lake Wheeler, Holt Reservoir, and down by the dam every chance I got. But, I didn’t see Big Henry again. I was beginning to think I had imagined the whole afternoon when one day, while in my twenties, I saw a large, dark shadow glide by and I knew – I just knew – it was Big Henry. I stuck a piece of Skipjack on my circle hook and tossed my line overboard. In less than a minute I had a bite and I could tell by the way he was pulling, I’d snagged Big Henry. He put up a hard fight, and although he’s powerful, catfish that size don’t have much endurance, so I had him in the boat in ten minutes. And sure enough, just as Mr. Nicholson had promised, Big Henry had grown. He was now almost 100 pounds. As I stood there exulting in my prize catch I remembered a little boy over a decade earlier, chest puffed out in pride, joy filling his heart over landing Big Henry; and I knew what I had to do. I reached down and hauled Big Henry up. I looked him in the eye and told him once more that I’d be back.”

We were sitting in shock that Grandad would have released Big Henry again. Grandad nodded and said, “Yep. In fact, I’ve caught Big Henry now so many times I’ve lost count. But, I always let him go because there’s a little boy out there who needs to catch him a lot more than I do. Although it won’t do him much good, since Big Henry probably weighs close to 200 pounds by now.” The slamming of the screen door made us all jump. Granny came stomping out on the porch, shaking her finger at Grandad. “Damon Toney, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, telling these kids about Big Henry. You know they’re gonna’ believe you and you’re just telling them fish stories again.” Granny shook her head and clumped back in the house. Grandad just smiled.

My peppermint was nearly gone and I opened my eyes and breathed out feeling the fresh, minty tingle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark shadow. I turned and watched as a very large, very slow something swam right past my boat. It couldn’t have been Big Henry, because Big Henry was just a story. Right?

~ from a lady friend named Misty

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From “The Catfisher’s Prayer Book” | The LORD is my Lord

The LORD is my Lord. He stretched the heavens and brought forth the many lights. He named them and taught them to shine. He girded Orion’s loins, and gave him his strength. He placed His dipper the Big Dipper on His table the sky. With His Little Dipper He scoops a bowl of soup for a meal.

He gave Pegasus wings; to Aquila He gave a beak. The great Crab He gave pincers. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah he placed in the sky with a great mane as Leo. The Twins He placed in the heavens, Gemini.

He gave all the stars their place, and gave them their light according to their distance form the earth. He filled the universe with their light, with His glory He filled them.

The Lord is the light of the sky. The LORD is my Lord.

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From the Catfisher’s Prayer Book | “Biggie”

A lady friend of mine wrote this poem about man-sized catfish below the dam:

Every town has a legend or myth
That locals are familiar with.
Ours is more truth than myth,
‘Bout a man-sized fish named Biggie.

That in the waters around here
Is a creature that strikes fear
When the story reaches the ear
Of a man-sized fish named Biggie.

A puppy wandered too close to the lake—
I’ll spare the details for your sake—
But a tail was all that remained in the wake
Of a man-sized fish named Biggie.

One day, to the lake a stranger came.
No one even knew his name.
He made clear his single aim:
The man-sized fish name Biggie.

I heard this from a trusted source:
A battle raged, force against force.
No one knows what happened, of course,
‘Cept the man-sized fish named Biggie.

The folks still yearned throughout the years
For a hero who’d be met with cheers,
For someone to set aside his fears
Of a man-sized fish named Biggie.

At last Damon had his say
And boldly stepped into the fray.
He said I’ll use my secret way
On a man-sized fish named Biggie.

And when the struggle was complete
The giant lay crushed at Damon’s feet.
And so it seemed it was defeat
For a man-sized fish named Biggie.

But the foe was thrown into the water
So that some other son or daughter
Could once again pull from the water
A man-sized fish named Biggie.

~a lady friend named Misty.

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Why We Catfish

Catfish Pudding | Homemade Punch BaitWe love catfish angling. In a world full of bass fishermen and trout fishermen and carp anglers and big, saltwater guys, we stick to our beloved catfish. Channels, blues, flatheads or big ones overseas, it boils down to three reasons we all fish for catfish:

  • Nostalgia
  • Food
  • Gear


This is the biggest category. It includes everything from childhood memories to God and creation to wanting to live a slower life to resting your nerves. It’s a catch-all phrase that captures the need to escape the daily grind of life. The water birds and fish, they seem to have a calming effect on the soul. I can’t explain it. I wager it has something to do with God/Jesus trying to tell us he loves us.

It is a beautiful thing. You get out there with friends and family and sometimes you don’t care if you catch a cooler full or get skunked. After a hard day’s work, fishing is a lot healthier than getting drunk on liquor.

My dad used to fish to calm his nerves. He loved sitting out on the water. He’d catch plenty, but he really loved the peacefulness of it all. You get out there, anchor in your favorite spot, and there comes a moment where you know this is who you are and why you were put on this planet.

Such is the meaning of nostalgia in catfish angling.


As great as all the warm fuzzies above sound, at the end of the day food is the practical aspect of fishing. Stock the freezer with meat. Feed the family. I don’t know what it’s like in your state, but in Alabama there is no limit on catfish other than you cannot have more than one catfish in your possession of 34 inches or longer. Basically they preserve the trophy-class fish. When fishing for eater-sized cats this doesn’t even register as most of the fish are less than 20 inches.

At any rate be sure to check your regs. Some states have creel limits other don’t. It depends on what your state can sustain via population and available water sources and such. There are smart people who figure into these things. In other words don’t be greedy. Harvest what you and your family will eat over the next few days or over winter or whatever metric you set up. There are plenty of fish for all of us. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Gear! Stuff! Tools! Weapons! Face it: We love buying gear and putting to the test. You start dusting off your rods, thinking about spooling up new line, then you remember that one new reel you’d been wanting to try or that new bait or that new sonar. It happens to all of us. In fact I’m sitting here thinking of the next rod building project made from wooden strips.

Testing your gear is fun. One of the first rods I built was a long, limber catfish rod made from a 5/6 weight fiberglass fly rod blank. I hooked into a 5 pound channel catfish who was camped under a log. Goodness! He maxed out that fly rod, a fun fight. The rod was put to the test, and the drag had to do much of the work. Check out the video below to see what I’m talking about:

Good times, tight lines!


P.S., Why do you catfish?

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From the “Catfisher’s Prayer Book”

Dear LORD,

You made the river, gave it its bends.
You filled it with water and taught it to flow,
Then you filled it with fish, our favorite the catfish:
The channel, the blue and the great flathead.

You gave them to us to catch, to eat, and to enjoy
in sport.
You gave us rods and reels, bait and much talk.
You gave us boats and sonar and fishing floats.

All these belong to you, and we pray that we would
use them honestly to glorify you.

In Christ forever