Marty and his son Chandler have become tournament partners. They often hit the road together on weekends to fish catfish tournaments across the states. Chandler’s friend Charlie (right) joined them on this trip to fish the M&J Catfish Wars tournament on the Chattahoochee River. (Submitted Photo)
Catfishing is a Family Affair
by Marty D Highnote
Fishing with the family brings back memories of growing up.
The Chattahoochee River has provided many memories for me. At 47 years old I have had many fishing experiences on its shoreline which is near my hometown of Americus, Georgia. Many of my current adventures are like a replay of my youth. They include the river, family, friends, and fishing.
I was introduced to catfishing by my father and mother when I was a young kid. Every weekend growing up we would go over to the Chattahoochee to camp out and catfish all weekend long.
Mom, dad, and I always camped at Florence Marina and Rood Creek Landing. That was the good old days. We caught fish all weekend long and then had a fish fry just about every Wednesday. Those times created fond memories for me.
One of the most fun memories of my childhood came on one of those trips with my mom and dad. We caught so many catfish we had to go back to Florence Marina three times to buy more red worms. We were tearing up them channel cats that weekend. I want to have experiences like that with my son, Chandler, and his friends.
Once my son was old enough to go fishing I’ve been taking him with me. My normal destination with Chandler is Lake Seminole at Sneads Park in Florida and Gordon Boat Ramp in Gordon, Alabama on Lake Andrews. Those are slightly different destinations than the ones with mom and dad, but the experience mirrors what I had growing up. Only now I am taking my family and friends.
Chandler mostly fishes in the M&J Catfish War Tournament with me that I am the Director of, but lately, we’ve been working it out where he can go and fish with me on the Tennessee River in other tournaments.
Three years ago I asked him where he wanted to go on vacation. He said, “Daddy, can we go fish on the Tennessee River?” He has fallen in love with the Tennessee River and the fishing opportunities it delivers. Now, just as I camped and fished on the Chattahoochee with my mom and dad, we plan our annual vacation on the Tennessee River.
I like to take Chandler‘s friends out that have never caught a big catfish before. They don’t really know what to expect. My joy comes when I see the reaction on their face when they fight that big old catfish and get it in the boat.
We took one of Chandler‘s friends, Charlie, with us to Wheeler Lake last year. He caught his personal best 50.45-pound blue catfish. Charlie was so excited that night he was smiling ear to ear.
About 10 minutes later Chandler hooked into a good one and brought his personal best 51-pound blue to the boat. It was PBs for both boys that night.
Cory Ramsey was with us and he could not believe we put two 50-pound blue cats in the boat that quickly. After that day Charlie has been hooked on catfishing. Now, about every time we go, Charlie goes with us. When Charlie got back home he told his mama that it was one of the best vacations he’s ever been on.
This is exactly the thing about catfishing that is important to me. It is seeing the smile on people’s faces when they catch a big catfish. And the best way to experience that is to take other people fishing to share the experience.
The first year I fished in tournaments was with a friend in his boat. One day Chandler said he would like to go but the boat we were fishing from wasn’t big enough for three anglers. So I started looking for a boat to buy.
I found a SeaArk RiverCat CX 200. Once I had that boat Chandler started fishing every tournament with me. The memories we have made over the last couple of years are priceless. The memories include teaching him about conservation and CPR which is also very gratifying. We both enjoy watching them big old boys swim off where the next generation can catch them again on rod and reel. The joy of seeing him reel in 50 pounders and then releasing them for someone else to catch cannot be expressed in words.
Chandler is one of the best fishing partners I will ever have. There is nothing he can’t do on the boat. We sold the SeaArk RiverCat after about a year and bought a SeaArk Dynasty which we fish out of now.
Sharing the sport with others, seeing the smile on Chandler’s face, and seeing the happy response of his friends who go with us is undeniably satisfying. That is the reason I love to catfish!