Godwin is shown here with his personal best blue cat caught during the 2018 Mississippi River Monsters tournament out of Memphis.
Catfish Profiles in Passion – John Godwin
Developing a new passion
by Ron Presley
John Godwin is well known for his role in the popular TV show, Duck Dynasty. If you meet him in person you will find out pretty quick that he has a passion for crappie fishing. Visit with the B’n’M Poles and SeaArk Boats prostaffer for a while and you will also discover that he has a developing passion for catfishing.
“I live just 50 minutes from Vicksburg, MS,” offered Godwin. “I’m told that it is an awesome catfish fishery. I’m going to explore that area when I get the chance.”
Like so many passionate anglers, Godwin yearns for more time on the water. But his down to earth personality has made him a favorite celebrity at just about any outdoor gathering.
“I am blessed to be able to do speaking events across the country,” explained Godwin. “Speaking on weekends and building duck calls during the week keeps me pretty busy. But I have had time to enjoyed fishing with some of the best catfisherman around in Bill Dance, George Young and Roy Harkness.
In fact, his first catfish adventure was with Bill Dance and George Young Jr. Bill and George took him out on the Mississippi River and gave him bumping lessons. As fate would have it, he caught a nice blue cat and decided to come back and fish Young’s Mississippi River Monsters catfish tournament in September of 2018.
“The only way I had catfished in the past was the old rod in the forked stick method while sitting on the bank,” recalled Godwin. “I like the fact that with bumping you are moving and not sitting still. It’s more like your hunting then fishing.”
He admitted it wasn’t easy, but given his natural fishing ability and experience he learned bumping pretty fast. He also broke himself from setting the hook when he felt the thump. As a crappie angler he was used to setting the hook.
“I struggled at times finding the bottom,” recalled Godwin. “I was letting out more line than I should. I would finally find the bottom and then come up on a mud bottom that softens the bump of your weight and here we go again. Where did it go? I finally got a good feel for it and could maintain the bottom.”
When tournament time came for the MRM in 2018 Godwin got on the boat with B’n’M prostaffers Roy Harkness and Don Sweat in Memphis. Godwin is prostaff with B’n’M on the crappie side, so it was an all B’n’M team. Not only did the team win 4th place with 122.16 pounds, the bag included Godwin’s new personal best 45-pound blue cat.
“Catching my personal best was awesome,” Godwin said. “I would reel but couldn’t gain any line. I was shaking like I saw a big bunch of ducks coming in the hole or watching a big buck deer. It was an unreal experience to pull up to that weigh-in stage with the Bass Pro Pyramid in the back ground. I felt I I’d hit the big time! I guess you could say it got me and I want some more of it.”
Other obligations kept Godwin from competing at the MRM in 2019. He was able to fish a Bass Pro Shops-Cabela’s King Kat Tournament at Helena-West Helena, AR on the Mississippi River. He and Harkness finished 4th in the August, 2019 event to keep the tournament streak alive.
“I’m going to fish the Mississippi River Monsters this year,” reported Godwin. “I will be joining Roy Harkness again. I’m excited about that. That’s all the tournaments my schedule will allow right now.”
“I’m like a sponge fishing with these guys,” continued Godwin. “I am watching every move and listening to every word. There is a lot to learn. I think the biggest obstacle for me right now is bait. There is a special technique for throwing a net for shad. There are certain places to look for and catch skipjack. That’s a lot of knowledge to learn. Not only do you have to be good at finding the big cats, you have to be good at finding bait.”
Godwin admits to enjoying the situation he finds around tournament fishing. He says that catfish tournament fishing has met or exceeded his expectations.
“I’ve fished bass tournaments, crappie tournaments and now catfish tournaments,” Godwin said. “I just love the atmosphere, the weigh-in stage, and the electricity of tournament day with the loud music coming from the speakers. I love a good host that gets the crowd into it and the anticipation of how well you have done against the field.”
“I feel like a kid on Christmas morning waiting on other anglers to appear at weigh-in,” he explained. “You can get so much knowledge about how other anglers caught them and new techniques you haven’t thought about.”
“The best thing is the people,” concluded Godwin. “It’s like a big family. Let’s face it, we are fisherman and we like to brag about how we caught them. The travel introduces us to new places and an opportunity to meet new people. That’s one thing I’ve learned from traveling across this country, there are great people all across this country. America is awesome, no matter what the news reports!