Jan 2021 News/Columns Why We Catfish

Why We Catfish: A Guest Editorial by Jason Hamilton

Hamilton enjoys tournament fishing. He is shown here with Anthony Kulis at a Twisted Cats Tournament.

Trading One Addiction for Another.

by Jason Hamilton


My story started back when I was 3 years old. At the time, I didn’t know how it would have an impact on my life. I didn’t know it world come full circle and impact me as it has.  I’m talking about catfishing. Yep, catfishing!

It makes no difference to Hamilton, flatties or blues. Either species gives him the escape he is seeking.

My Grandfather, David Samo, bless his heart, introduced me to fishing and the outdoors many, many years ago! I was only 3 years old. He lived in Nebraska and would always come home to Des Moines, Iowa to visit on weekends. We would sit out on our back dock and fish for catfish until the early hours of the morning.

Lots of fish were caught, but that wasn’t important. It was his stories and the camaraderie we shared while waiting for the clicker to go off is what I remember as important. I literally lived for his stories and the moments I shared with him. Once he left to go back home, I’d start my countdown until his next visit. I lived for these moments and stories shared while fishing and being outdoors together.

As I grew into my teenage years, catfishing and the outdoors became a lesser priority in my life. I replaced my passion for the outdoors with drugs and alcohol. The hooks set in deep and hard! It had a life-long lasting impact on my life.

I still fished, but it always involved some type of escape, instead of being THE ESCAPE. Unfortunately, this lasted way too many years of my life. I saw many courtrooms, backseats of police cars, hospital beds, recovery centers, and a court-ordered boot camp. Not to mention the heartache that I pushed on my family over the years.

While catfishing always remained in my life, I never used it for MY ESCAPE until the Summer of 2018. It was February when I finally realized that every aspect of my life had become unmanageable due to my alcoholism. Deep in my heart, I knew that the only way I could manage my addiction was to trade one addiction for another.

Hamilton supports good fish care. He was among the first anglers to sign up for the American Catfishing Association.

No, drugs weren’t the trade, it was catfishing and my love for the outdoors. I began to understand that the energy, money, and time spent boozing and partying had gotten me nowhere. It was time to change.

I realized that living a sober life would be possible if I spent my time catfishing. When all things in the world seemed wrong, the one thing that seemed right was catfishing.

The fish didn’t care who was leading our great nation, what my bank account balance was, or how expensive my boat was! The only thing the fish cared about was their next meal. I could always depend on the fish to pull me through some of my darkest days while trying to sort out my continuing path to sobriety!

Well, it’s been nearly 3 years without a drink. Catfishing has literally gotten me through some tough nights and tough times. My time spent on the water fishing for these spectacular fish and then sharing my stories, trials, and tribulations within my support group—Flatheads Anonymous—has helped me tremendously! I thank all the Catfishing Community for the support that you’ve given me.

I hope you all understand now, “Why I Catfish!”


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