If I said I’m not beat after the past two weeks I would be lying through my fingers. As you were reading this column a couple weeks ago, my friend Brad Dokken and I were on the way home from our trip to Missouri to take a stab at the largest species of catfish in the United States, the blue catfish.
On the way down, as we drove south we noticed the snows of the long winter began to lessen eventually turning brown in South Dakota and got greener the further south we drove. A few miles from our destination of Warsaw, Missouri we saw a guy mowing his lawn and commented on how nice it would be to simply cut the grass. (That thought quickly vanished when we remembered that by August we would be sick of mowing.)
We pulled up to the Catfish Safari headquarters/ bed and breakfast about 4:30 pm. As we got out of the truck from the long drive it was almost overwhelming joy to feel the sun and 65 degrees with the breeze of Lake of the Ozarks. Tina Brown, the wife of our guide Steve quickly greeted us and showed us to our rooms in the rustic bed and breakfast located in a section of their home. From the front window we could look down to the water’s edge and see the boathouse which is home to the Catfish Safari 240 Cat Pro boat we would be riding in the next day.
The wonderful weather of our arrival day turned during the night and we woke up to a cold, wet and windy morning. Great, a day late with only one shot at a blue. Our guide Steve Brown greeted us in the morning after he returned from bait fishing. He told us our itinerary for the trip and what we could expect. Since we were the second trip of the day we had to wait seven hours for the first trip to end before we could head out.
We finally got our chance to hit the water. Steve, being a southerner through and through put his sealed top on the boat and installed a fish house heater right in the boat. He made it clear we were going to be warm on our journey (right after he checked to make sure there were no ice augers snuck into the boat.) Now we were going to fish in an ice shack from a boat. Kind of neat I guess.
As I anticipated the unfortunate change in weather had put the fish into a bit of a funk and the cross winds made anchoring difficult to stay on the perfect fishing spot. We tried spots before finally settling in on a honey hole and the spot where Brown himself caught his personal best 78 pound blue about 20 miles downstream. The boat was stuck down in a shallow spot with two mud poles and we were fishing a deep break line. Within seconds were began getting bites and even catching a few fish but that hawg just didn’t come.
Between fish we sat comfortably in the boat shack visiting and telling cats stories from our respective waters, always a way anglers from different places get to know each other. We shared stories of drilling holes through 52 inches of ice while Steve told us about tournament fishing when Lake of the Ozarks was falling feet per day. When the end of our tour came we had a 20-mile journey home in total darkness. Steve just put his nose to the grindstone and followed his instincts (and GPS) home.
Fishing Da Blues in Missouri was a fun and great adventure. Our fabled giant blue catfish didn’t happen but we did catch fish. Steve Brown of Catfish Safari Guide Service and his family run a first class fishing operation in Warsaw, Missouri. The best part of the trip is I have made a new friend in the catfish family.
Until next time get outside and make some memories