"TAWAKONI GUIDES MAKING MEMORIES FOR PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton West Tawakoni, Texas- I recently returned from a fishing trip for catfish with guides George Rule, Casey Nobles, and a few of their good friends at Lake Tawakoni. We found the catfish receptive to the pungent aroma of punch bait and soured grain, as they usually are. After a few hours fishing, the ice chest was brimming full of channel and blue catfish. Nothing especially noteworthy about catching lots of catfish here, regardless the time of year one chooses to fish. Tawakoni is, arguably, one of the best, if not THE best catfish lakes in the country and I was fishing with some sure nuff catfish pros. I fully expect to catch catfish, LOTS of them when I head to good ole Ta-Wak on a catfishing expedition. Photo courtesy of Luke Clayton. What was different about this trip is the fact that we had a physically challenged gentleman, Dennis Newton, aboard the specially designed 25 foot pontoon barge. Folks bound to wheelchairs are limited when it comes to fishing, many are relegated to fishing from the bank or possibly a sturdy dock. Rule and some of his lifelong friends worked with Voyager Tritoons of Tulsa and designed the safe, roomy craft that accommodates folks in wheelchairs. The boat has plenty of open deck space and a wide entrance ramp for loading and unloading the cumbersome chairs. The craft has an extra pontoon that adds greatly to its safety and stability. There are lots of folks out there that simply cannot get out on the water because of physical handicaps. We want to put as many of them as we can out on the water where they can enjoy catching fish just like the rest of us. says Rule. Very quickly into this fishing trip, it became quite obvious that Newton was having the time of his life and, catching as many or more fish as anyone on the boat! With a special device attached to his wrist with Velcro that holds the butt end of the rod, Newtons lightning reflexes jerked the rod sidewise to set the hook. He was obviously quite adept at catching catfish, a veteran of many trips with Rule and Nobles. Rule will continue putting his regular clients on catfish and Nobles will be the primary captain in charge of this new boat rigged specifically for physically challenged anglers but the team will work together closely, Im betting where you see Rules guide boat, the big tritoon barge wont be far away, after all, fishing over baited holes with soured grain is the ticket to some non-stop catfish action right now and, in this type fishing, the more the merrier! If you know someone that is physically challenged or, would like to get out on the water yourself and enjoy some of this steady action, give Rule a call at 214-202-6641. ANOTHER PATTERN- Fishing with prepared catfish bait over holes baited with soured grain in water 20-24 feet is a great way to catch numbers of catfish weighing between 1.5 and 3 pounds but trophy class blue catfish are also being landed during the evening hours. Drift fishing with fresh shad during the evening hours or, very early in the morning is producing blue catfish up to 45 pounds. Blues have been reported from water as shallow as 5 feet but most of the fishing is in depths 20-30 feet. Circle hooks work best here on a Carolina rig with 4 foot leader. A small floater placed 6 inches above the hook keeps the bait up off bottom during the drift, which makes it easier for the blues to grab the bait as it drifts by. LC PROSPECTS FOR DUCK SEASON LOOKS BRIGHT- According to a recent report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, duck numbers are on the increase and prospects are excellent for a good duck season this fall. Mallard numbers are estimated at 8.5 million, a 10 % increase over last year and 13 % above the long-term average. Gadwalls number 3.1 million, 73% above the long term average. Blue-winged teal numbers are estimated at 7.4 million which is the second highest on record. Pintail are up 23 % over last year with 3.2 million birds. Even the canvasback have made a remarkable comeback with 662,000 birds, 35% more than last year. My outfitter buddy up in North Dakota, which is in the center of the pot hole nesting region in the U.S., reports hes seen more ducks on the ponds and small lakes in the area than ever before. U.S. Fish and Wildlife reports estimate there are 6.4 million acres of prime nesting ponds and lakes in northern U.S. and Canada. Ducks Unlimited (DU) can be thanked for much of this success story. Chances are pretty good there will be a fund raiser DU banquet in your area in upcoming months. Go online to www.ducks.org for exact dates and locations. These events are lots of fun and serve as a major income source for DU. OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK- Archery season for whitetail is only a couple months away. Theres plenty of time to break out your hunting bow, take it to your local archery shop and have a technician check it over and make sure its ready for the upcoming season. Strings and cables should be replaced periodically and cams, pulleys, sights and rests should be inspected for loose screws, worn bushings and wear. Theres still plenty of time to hone your shooting skills before opening day. I enjoy shooting my bows year around but August is the month when I intensify my practice sessions. I practice at all ranges out to my maximum range for harvesting game: 30 yards. With todays fast bows, one sight pin will suffice from distances from point blank out to 30 yards. I set the pin dead on a 25 yards and determine where its hitting at 30 yards and, the shorter distances. The group varies only 3 inches out to 30 yards. I find it easier to use one pin than several for hunting. When its time to draw on that big buck, I need only worry about properly executing the shot, not deciding which pin to use! LC Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc? Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com Contact Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org The BOC has a virtual library of Luke's stories right here on the forums; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!