Otis "Toad" Smith

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by wolfman, Aug 18, 2005.

  1. wolfman

    wolfman Well-Known Member

    I posted this back a few years ago about a catfishing legend. Thought maybe some of the new members would enjoy reading about him.
    To consistently catch very big catfish, you must have the knowledge of where to find and how to catch these monster-sized fish. In many lakes and rivers throughout the United States, catfish weighing more than 50 pounds cruise the bottoms.

    The late Otis "Toad" Smith from Sibley, Iowa, probably was one of the few men who ever caught a catfish with his own heart. After a very serious heart operation where a portion of Smith's heart was cut away, Smith went fishing for catfish, one of his favorite pastimes. Smith had told the doctors before the operation that he wanted to keep whatever portion of his heart they cut out. He said his heart belonged to him.

    Smith kept the part of his heart in a glass jar filled with formaldehyde. One day after he came home from the hospital, he looked at the piece of his heart in that jar and decided his heart should perform some useful function. He poured the formaldehyde out and replaced the liquid with Fish Formula's Catfish Scent. The first time he went fishing, he took a piece of his old heart from the jar, baited it on a hook and cast it out into the river. In just a few minutes, he caught an 8-pound catfish.

    Toad Smith knew how to catch big catfish and had developed a system of taking large flathead catfish that weighed over 50 pounds on the Minnesota River. He fished at night using large blue chubs or suckers for bait. He searched for deep holes in the river that had brush piles or large boulders in them -- the kinds of places where big flatheads held during daylight hours.

    According to Smith, one of the best ways to locate these holes that homed big flathead catfish was to float the river in a small boat and fish for channel cats in the deep holes. If he didn't catch channel catfish in the hole, then he'd know a big, flathead catfish was there because a flathead catfish that weighed more than 30 pounds would eat a 3-, 4- or 5-pound channel cat.

    After Smith found a hole like that, he would return to that spot in the river at night and cast live bait out on the shallow side of the hole along the edge of the deep water. He wanted his bait in the shallows but still near the drop. He used a muskie rod and either an Abu Garcia 6500 or 7000 or a Penn 2009 or 3009 reel. He preferred reels that free-spooled but that had star drags and clicker systems on them.

    Smith would set his rods out on the bank and wait on the catfish. When dark approached, he cast his baits out to the edge of the hole and then sat. At night, big flatheads came out of the holes and moved up onto the shallow flats to feed on the baitfish. That's when Smith caught them.

    Smith checked his bait several times during the night to make sure the bait was alive. He knew the big flatheads could sense a bait from some distance and that a flathead generally wouldn't take a dead bait. Smith liked to fish with big chubs called sucker chubs that were 10- to 12-inches long. He cut the chub's tailfin almost all the way off, which forced the chub to swim harder to stay upright. Then he used a razor blade to nick the chub all along its side to allow the chub's natural juices to flow out into the current and call the big catfish.

    Smith utilized a No. 5 Eagle Claw hook, put a split shot about 10 inches up the line and then placed a 2- to 4-ounce sinker above the split shot. The split shot prevented the sinker from sliding all the way down to the hook and let the bait swim freely on the end of the line while being held on the bottom. On a good night, Smith often caught from 20- to 25-big flatheads that weighed from 15 to 50 pounds each.
  2. I have read a number of articles and stories written by Doug Stange on Otis "Toad" Smith, Apparently, they were very good friends and caught a lot of big catfish fishing together. A good "fishing buddy" is hard to find.

  3. He is a great catfisherman and will be duly missed. :sad:
  4. i watched toad on in-fisherman a couple times.... he was definately a catfishing legend!
  5. master_cat

    master_cat New Member

    im glad u posted that i enjoyed reading it
  6. great post wolfman
  7. Good post wolfman.I've read many stories on Toad,he's the reason for me having the yearning to go to Brazil.He fished it long before the sport got started there.He was surely a legend and a great Catfisherman.The good thing is his great info go past on before his passing.He's been missed in the catfish world.
  8. abilene

    abilene New Member

    All I can say is he was a more dedicated fisherman than I'll ever be. Anyone that uses a piece of himself to fish with is definatly catfish crazy.
  9. Wolfman: Walter, those were some good stories they used to write about "The Toad Man". I believe I have most if not all the articles ever published by IF about him.
    I especially liked the one where him and Doug went into a diner, Toad had a couple of fishing maggots in his mouth, when he got his scrambled eggs, he spit them in the eggs and complained about the maggots in the eggs they served him. The results were hilarious.
    Thanks for posting the one you did.
  10. abilene

    abilene New Member

    Whoa...maggots? That guy was definatly one of a kind!
  11. I wonder if I could have learned anything from him? He had to be quite a fella
  12. interestingg he sounds like a true catfisher
  13. Jackie,
    Oh yeah, Stange used to tell about all the cute little tricks like that the "Toad Man" used to pull. It sure would have been a privilege to know and have fished with him.
  14. I remember how excited I use to get when I found out that there was an article that Stange had written about a trip he and Toad had taken. I could hear the cracklin of the fire they had on the shoreline and feel the grease on my fingers from the bucket of chicken they shared while they waited for Mr. Whiskers to take their offerings as they told old stories and relived experiences they shared on previous trips together. If you can't get excited by that and not wish you were there to experience it with them, then maybe fishing isn't your thing. We all owe Toad a debt of thanks by bringing it to a lot of people that don't understand what we all share. I hope you agree. I miss Toad a lot, even though I wasn't fortunate enough to have met him. A fishing buddy is indeed very special.
  15. catfisherman04

    catfisherman04 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting that wolfman. Toad and Doug are the guys who got me into catfishing with their catfish fever movie i was probably 12 or 13 when i first seen the movie and i have been hooked ever since. Does anyone know where to get the first catfish fever movie on dvd ?
  16. bream reaper

    bream reaper New Member

    I love that show ...how's the chicken... Tooooaaaddd!
  17. Thanks Wolfman, that brought back memories. I used to have a Catfish Fever video.
  18. MRR

    MRR New Member

    Thanks for posting.He may be gone but not forgotten. I even learned a couple things from your article.Never tried Creek chubs before but bet I will this summer.Thanks again .Reps coming your way.
  19. Reps, and Thanks for bringing that back for me,,,,
    I read about some of his adventures way back when,,
    I learned a bunch from him and those guys,, before I knew anything..
    What an Ambassador for catfishing he was, and Is !!!
  20. Gotta love "The Toad", he was one of a kind. RIP.