Josh Brown’s catfishing adventure started out chasing channel cats. It developed into a guide business where he shares his knowledge and skills to help his clients catch big cats.
Chasing the Dream
by Ron Presley
It all started with channel cats but ended in a search for a state record blue cat and a career in guiding.
Twenty-eight-year-old Josh Brown has a deep passion for fishing. The Gadsden Alabama resident came by the obsession honestly having grown up with access to a family farm pond and fishing with his family. Neely Henry lake flows through Gadsden and that is his home waters.
“I started fishing in my family’s farm pond,” revealed Brown. “I was catching 10- to 15-pound channel cats from the time I was able to walk. It was almost tradition to wake up early on weekends and go fish my great aunt’s pond. The channel cats there were more than big enough to drag a rod in the water. Losing a few rods just intensified my passion to chase the biggest fish possible.”
Once he was able to drive, he dedicated himself to trying to catch the biggest fish he could find. His wheels gave him the opportunity to travel to and fish the Coosa River in northeast Alabama. As he became more financially stable, he started venturing out even further to the Tennessee River where he was looking for a triple-digit fish.
“My triple-digit goal has only happened once so far,” reported Brown. “But the Tennessee River is where I still fish multiple times a week looking for the next state record.”
His training led him to a computer programming career which he pursued for several years. But fishing was his passion, and his dream job was persistently lingering in his head.
“I wanted to focus my career on something that I loved,” Brown said. “I took a chance when I left my programming career to pursue my dream in fishing. I was a CNC programmer for 8 years. I changed companies but was laid off at the new company once work caught up. During the time I was there my former company closed shop. That was the turning point for me, and I decided to chase my dream and go full-time as a fishing guide.”
For two years now, Brown has made a career out of guiding under the name Backwoods Catfishing Guide Service. He says his specialty is a close tie between dragging baits for blues and fishing for flatheads. The Tennessee River is his primary fishing waters, and he catches plenty of both flats and blues as witnessed by a particularly good day he experienced.
“My best day on the water was a short six-hour trip where three fish weighed well over 220 pounds,” said Brown. “We caught more, but our three biggest fish weighed 57, 65, and 105 pounds. It was a bluebird sky with a northwest wind. I learned that day to never let a bluebird sky make you stay home. Bluebird skies can be some great fishing.”
Those fish were all returned to the water because Brown is a firm believer in CPR and taking care of the resource. He allows his clients to keep anything less than 10 pounds if they want to take some home for the dinner table but the bigger fish are handled carefully and released.
“I am an advocate for CPR for catfish,” stated Brown. “I do push for catfish regulations and good sportsmanship, but I also push for regulations for Alabama to adopt a creel limit for skipjack. I would love to see a 100 skipjack per person per day with a 200 fish possession limit like Tennessee has adopted. I always take just enough to fish with and leave the rest of the resources for the future.”
Tournament fishing is still on his agenda and something Brown enjoys, but only when his guiding schedule permits it.
“I don’t get to fish as many tournaments as I’d like to,” confessed Brown. “More of my weekends are taken up with guiding. But I make some time to fish some bigger tournaments. I love to tournament fish for the competition.”
Brown, a true mountain of a man, is known for his work ethic when it comes to fishing.
“If you asked anyone to describe me the first word out of their mouth will be tall, said Brown. “I’m 6-feet 8-inches, so I stick out like a sore thumb. But they also see me as constantly working when I am on the water. I will either be working to stay on the fish or catching fresh bait for my next day’s fishing.”
“Personally, I want to be remembered as someone who loved the outdoors,” continued Brown. “I hope to share that love with others in the hope that it can change someone else’s life. If that happens to come with a record catfish, that would be a bonus.”
Brown is also a tinkerer. He loves working on stuff, be it a weed eater, his truck, or his outboard. He finds mechanics just as relaxing as fishing. He says that if he doesn’t have a project to work on, he’s bored. But one thing that doesn’t bore him is his family. And he has great hopes and dreams for his daughter.
“My wife and I have an 8-month-old daughter named Kennedy,” concluded Brown. “I’m hoping she follows in her dad’s footsteps and wants to chase the whiskered fish one day. Being able to fish with her for the rest of my life would be the ultimate goal for my catfishing future.”