Anietra Hamper realized a dream when she caught this monster piraiba in Guyana
Why We Catfish: A Guest Editorial
by Anietra Hamper
Catfishing opens a world of opportunities.
As a young girl who grew up fishing at grandpa’s cottage in western Ohio, I daydreamed about the many species that existed, wondering if there could ever be a fish as big as me. A love of fishing and the outdoors instilled in me as a child has remained for a lifetime, evolving into a particular fondness for catfish. This was initially due to the thrill of the fight while catching catfish, but enhanced by discovering a species that could actually grow to sizes larger than humans.
My passion for catfishing has evolved into a desire to seek out these magnificent fish in freshwater rivers and lakes throughout the world. With more than 3,000 species of catfish that exist, I’m on a quest to see them all. I recognize that this is yet another wild dream, but the idea is enough to keep me searching and fishing for as many of the deep dwellers as I can experience in my lifetime. Any passionate angler can relate to this drive to find their next personal best, not knowing where or when that might happen.
While I enjoy the excitement of pulling up large blue catfish out of the Ohio River or a trophy cat while fishing the famous Tennessee River system that is popular among tournament anglers, I find that catfishing also gives me a way to travel and fish for these species beyond the United States.
Traveling to other countries for fishing is a way for catfish anglers to see a wild diversity of species while also improving their fishing skills. It is also an opportunity to try new or unconventional fishing techniques from other cultures alongside indigenous people where sometimes your only shared language is the love of fishing.
The goonch catfish in India is a hydrodynamic beast with a folklore as a man-eater in the waters of the Himalayan foothills. The wels catfish in Spain and in European waters is akin to a 200-pound tadpole with a tub-like head and serpent shaped body. The stunning redtail, jau and piraiba (lau lau) catfish that hide among caves in 80 to 100 feet of water below the Essequibo River in Guyana offer lifetime catches that challenge even the most experienced anglers. These species, which can grow to sizes larger than we see in catfish in the United States, challenge anglers to work out how these prized South American giants navigate their vast aquatic territory within the rainforest.
Those who fish for catfish are among a lucky segment of anglers who share the joy of catching and seeing up-close the stunning fish that roam the deepest parts of the water column, everywhere in the world.
(Anietra Hamper is a career television news anchor and investigative journalist turned award-winning travel writer, book author and speaker who is passionate about fishing and outdoor adventure. Anietra travels the world fishing for catfish and other unique species in new destinations.)