Back in the 80s, my brother and I were fishing at a Texoma Lake in Oklahoma. My dad took us there many times as kids. My dad has since passed away, but he was known by friends and family as The Catfish King. He made his own stink bait out of cow brains and cheese, and it worked well.
We knew about some large flat rocks off shore at an area called Washita Point, and the catfish love to spawn in the cracks in the rocks. We were standing on the rocks in waist-deep water using stink bait. We carried our bait and extra tackle in old army bags that hung around our necks, directly under our faces. There was no escape from the stench of the bait, but when the fish are biting, it doesn’t matter much. We had only one stringer, which my brother had tied to the belt loop of his jean shorts, with six nice channel cats aboard.
We had been fishing for about two hours, and our young backs were starting to give in to the muscles trying to keep us upright. About that time I hooked a good one and knew there was going to be a fight. I battled the fish for about two hours (really about two minutes) and grabbed the blue cat under the belly. As I worked my way over to my brother, he discovered that the stringer full of cats had come untied and was nowhere to be found. After some choice words, I pulled my reserve stringer out of my bag and strung up the blue.
We calmed down and resumed fishing for another thirty minutes when my brother hollered that he had a good one on and could hardly move it. I made it over to him and watched as his rod bent and slowly brought in his prize. As the catch came closer, we could see that it didn’t look like a catfish. When he finally got it to the top of the water, we discovered something that still comes up every year at Christmas. His hook was through the ring of the lost stringer. All the fish were still on the stringer and almost looked thankful that they didn’t have to stay hooked to each other forever. We debated whether or not to release the fish or have them for dinner, but hunger took over and we wanted to take part of this story home with us.