It was a blue catfish that first got Jenny Simpson hooked on trophy cats. This photo is one of many she has caught since.
Editor’s Note: Thirty-one-year-old Jenny Simpson was hooked on fishing early in her life. But it wasn’t until her husband took her trophy catfishing that she developed a true passion for the sport. Her catfishing exploits don’t go unnoticed. Ask some of her friends about Jenny and they are likely to respond, “Oh, you mean ‘Queen of the Cumberland.’”
I want to tell the world about it.
I grew up in Murfreesboro TN. where I caught small channel cats fishing with my dad. At the time, I didn’t even know that big trophy cats existed. I always enjoyed fishing and learning from my dad growing up.
My best memory was just being there with my dad fishing. I have moved away from my parents and hardly ever seen them now. When they do come, I always ask him to go out on the boat with me and he won’t. It makes me realize that every time my daddy took me fishing and taught me how to bait my own hook and when to “snatch the pole” to hook the fish was my favorite part. That was what got it all started for me.
I live in Dickson, TN now where I fish often on the Cumberland River. My husband Clay Crafton introduced me to trophy catfishing. I will never forget that first trip.
We went to Cumberland City, TN and out on the “catwalk” where he taught me how to catch skipjack. We then found a good spot a little way down where we set up and fished from the bank.
We had been sitting there for about 15 minutes when I got a bite. I cranked down and reeled in a 25-pound blue. At that moment I was hooked! The feelings I had at that moment were indescribable. I knew this is exactly what I wanted to do and it could only go up from here.
Until that day I had no idea that catfish got that big. I thought 25 pounds was huge! Not knowing until years later down the line that I’d be catching 50-pounders regularly. My personal best blue is 64 pounds and my personal best flathead is 54 pounds. My goal for 2020 is to break the state record for flathead and I won’t stop until I do.
That trip was a learning lesson for sure. I learned things like what an 8/0 circle hook was, how to catch my own bait, how to cut the bait and bait my own hook. Everything about that trip stood out to me. It was very educational. That trip helped me become the fisherman I am today.
By taking me fishing and introducing me to trophy catfishing Clay taught me everything I needed to know to take off on my own. Had it not been for that trip I wouldn’t be a part of the only all-female team in my area.
My teammate is Brittany Jackson. We fish local tournaments and road tournaments too. We fished the Chick Fight Tournament on Wheeler last year. It was that tournament when we started using the name “Whisker Sisters.”
Now, given the fishing knowledge I have learned I can pass it on to my kids and so many others. I have talked to and taught them what they need to know to become successful in this wonderful sport of catfishing. Ninety-five percent of the time when I hit the water my 5-year-old is right there with me. My kids love fishing.
My favorite times on the water is with my family, and hearing my daughter Kaylee telling me she wants to grow up and be like mommy catching big fish. It makes me very proud.
Everything about fishing is important to me. It’s time that I can spend with my family passing on my knowledge and love for the sport to my kids and maybe one day they could pass on to their kids.
Every day I have people looking at my fish pictures and they tell me they want to go fishing with me. My response is always the same. “I’m always ready so when you are ready, we will go.”
There are several amazing anglers out there so it’s hard to narrow it down to who I look up to. My hero would be, all those anglers that get out in the rain, sleet, snow, or sun, just like I do, and do exactly what we all love to do.
Every time I go fishing is memorable, because not every fishing trip is the same. Every time I go fishing, I make new memories. The water is my “home away from home” and I could sit out there for hours (and I have), and catch 5 small fish and be just as happy as if I caught one giant.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a trophy catfisher! The feeling I get when I see my rod tip touch the water from a big blue or that soft, slow pull from a giant flathead Is unexplainable. Catching trophy catfish is what I love, but I’m just as happy catching the small ones as I am the big ones.
If it had not been for that first trip with Clay and that 25-pound blue, I wouldn’t have the title, “Queens of the Cumberland,” and I wouldn’t be here today writing this story. I catfish because it’s what I love to do. Catfishing is my drug and I’m addicted, and I want to tell the world about it.