Why We Catfish
by Nathan Peterman
Tournament fishing provides a support group for families to grow in the sport, and in life.
I am not new to catfishing, but I am relatively new to targeting trophy cats. At 41 years old, my 17-year-old son, Joshua Peterman, and I enjoy fishing the Chattahoochee River from Lake Eufaula, AL to Lake Seminole in Florida. That’s what we identify as our “home waters”.
While we have always loved catfishing, we never really targeted trophy catfish until approximately 4 years ago. Our catfish journey started with my brother Phillip Peterman who fished tournaments. Joshua fished several tournaments with Phillip in the Chatt Katt Tournament Trail ran by Clayton Lynn. Chatt Katt Catfishing is a local club that offers one tournament a month and everyone is welcome. After fishing the trail with Phillip, Joshua fell in love with the tournament atmosphere.
As a family, we kicked off our catfish journey by targeting larger catfish on the Chattahoochee River by joining up with the guys from the M&J Catfish Wars Tournament Trail. Mark Johnson and Marty D. Highnote encourage family participation in their trail. Since then, we have fished several tournaments in different areas of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
The catfish community is very accepting and has welcomed my son and I as one of their own. It is truly a family-friendly group. Through that organization, Joshua has fished with some of the best fishermen out there. The best part is how much can be learned from the opportunity to fish with experienced catfish anglers.
Ronnie Dixon, for example, has asked Joshua to fish tournaments with him when I wasn’t able to be there. As a result of Ronnie’s invites, Joshua has had the opportunity to catch multiple personal best trophy catfish. Ronnie led him to his current PB blue cat which stands at 61 pounds.
Another M&J angler, Allen Shepard, invited Joshua to fish the Bama Blues Tournament on Lake Wheeler in North Alabama in 2021. It was the largest tournament Joshua had ever fished. Allen described him as an all-around responsible and respectful young man who works just as hard at fishing as he did. It makes me very proud.
Joshua has caught multiple fish in the 40- to 50-pound range to go along with his personal best 61-pound blue cat. He added his PB flathead weighing 38 pounds during the 2022 Bama Blues event while he was fishing with me and Tim Trone.
During 2021, Joshua fished 9 M&J tournaments, 3 Chatt Katt tournaments, 2 Bama Blues tournaments, 1 Altamaha River tournament. Not to mention multiple Alabama High School Bass tournaments with the Dale County Bass team lead by Clay Harris and his partner Lane Harris.
Learning from the Best
The things we have learned from so many great fishermen have allowed us to pass information along to others and get them excited about catching trophy catfish too. We have learned everything from the simple choices of hook selection to reading our electronics so we know what we are looking at on the fish finder to locate catfish.
Additionally, tournaments like the M&J and Chatt Katt stress catfish conservation among the anglers. I think what we have discovered about fish care is the most important things we have learned. Knowing how to handle fish and knowing how to set up a live well to keep fish as healthy on release as when we caught them results in more trophy catfish for future generations of anglers.
Our Catfish Journey
Tournaments involve long hours on the water. Having your kid on the boat with you and seeing the passion, love, and dedication that he has for catfishing is just as rewarding as placing in the tournament or catching the biggest fish in the tournament.
The passion Joshua has for fishing is unmatched; he has proven to be the young man every parent wants their child to be. He has donated money from winning benefit tournaments when he was only 13 years old and has given kids rods and reels along with other things that he has won in raffles.
Sitting up ALL night watching rods and finding new areas to fish can be challenging on those slow nights. But when I watch Joshua pick an area to fish and then see him catch fish from the spots he chose, it is worth every penny and hour we have spent on this catfish journey.
Seeing the person he has become, enjoying the many adventures on the boat with him, and knowing that catfishing has played a role in his personal development is why we catfish.