Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Whistler, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Lake Tawakoni - King Of The Blues

    Luke Clayton

    West Tawakoni, Texas- Just a few hours ago, I was hard at “work”, photographing and fighting the big blue catfish that Lake Tawakoni, located about an hour east of Dallas, has become famous for. As managing editor of a national magazine devoted to the sport of catfishing, I’ve had the privilege of fishing some mighty good catfish waters, with some mighty good pro anglers. I know of many, many, good spots to enjoy catching both numbers of smaller catfish and big trophy size blues as well but, hands down, my pick of the best of the best is Lake Tawakoni.

    Usually the “trophy” time for catching giant blues is shutting down by now but for some unknown reason, the blue cats at Tawakoni have failed to get the word. Cody Mullenix (landed the previous world record blue catfish) and his dad Billy won an ACATS tournament sponsored by the North Texas chapter here recently with five fish that totaled 203.7. A total of 125 fish were weighed in with a total weight of 1,748.2 pounds. That equates to an average weight of over 14 pounds! Big fish of the day tipped the scales at 57.2 pounds and 4 fished were weighed in that weighed more than 50 pounds apiece.

    Photo by Luke Clayton

    I seriously doubt if any boats on the water at Tawakoni haul in more giant blue catfish than those of guides George Rule and David Hanson. These guys make their living putting clients on trophy blue catfish during much of the year, then with the onset of summer and warm weather, they switch to the “numbers game” and their clients land regular limits of “eaters”. I’ve enjoyed many trips with both these guys and have never failed to come back to the dock without plenty of tasty catfish for upcoming fish frys.

    Our trip yesterday was described by both guides as “average”. To myself and my friend outdoors writer Bob Hood, their “average” equated to a barn burner fishing trip!

    Bob and I met our guides at the dock at Anchor Inn Marina around 2 in the afternoon. Both were busy cleaning fish their morning clients had landed. I visited with a couple of guys that were waiting for their catch to be cleaned and both had fished with Hanson and Rule many times. “Where else can you go and expect to catch catfish over 20 pounds on every trip? We’ve both caught several catfish over 30 pounds and one that weighed just over 60 while fishing with these guys. In the summer, we come out and fish with them over holes baited with soured grain and enjoy non stop action on fish in the 1.5 to 10 pound range. Fishing just don’t get any better than that.”

    As Rule’s big guide boat eased out of the mouth of the cove leading to the sheltered dock at Anchor Inn Marina, he “hammered down” on the big engine and we were on our way to a series of isolated humps out from the area known locally as “The Woods”, which is actually a section of woods left standing back in the sixties when the lake was filled. Over the drone of the engine, I listened to the guides conservation as we neared our first (and only, as it turned out), spot to drop anchor. “We ought to get into some big fish hanging on the windward side of this big hump, you know there’s an old Sabine River Authority haul road just within casting range, there should be some big schools of shad and accompanying hungry cats hanging on the ledges.” I glanced at their graph and their predilection was validated: tons of shad marking and some accompanying big “hooks” close to bottom: CATFISH!

    We soon had eight rods rigged with fresh shad positioned in holders around the boat; our trap was set and we didn’t have long to wait! The rod in a holder in front of me bowed toward the surface and everybody screamed instructions and encouragement. I fought the rod out of the holder and jerked back to set the hook. “We’re using circle hooks, just crank fast to take up the slack and hang on, no need to set the hook. Hanson instructed." I managed to lose that first fish that put quite a bow in the rod, then I settled in and remembered the basics of fishing with circle hooks. These hooks are designed to twist into the corner of a fish’s mouth when it picks up the bait and swims away. In the ensuing couple of hours before a storm pushed us off the lake, we all enjoyed a fishing fest. Our biggest of the day weighed just over 30 pounds and we caught several in the 10-20 pound range. Just a day on the water for our guides but excitement aplenty to keep a couple of seasoned old outdoor writers marking our calendars for the next trip!

    To book at catfish trip at Tawakoni, call guide George Rule at 214-202-6641. David Hanson’s number is 903-268-7391.

    This story, and Luke’s weekly outdoor radio show is archived each week at