Reed is shown here with his personal best 78-pound blue. He caught it while fishing with one of his mentors, Jason Bridges.
Take Only What You Need
by Wayne Reed
Growing up and currently living close to the Tennessee River near Decatur Alabama is one of my life’s blessings. Beginning in a plywood boat, built by my grandfather in a friend’s garage, I started my lifelong love of fishing.
My earliest memories of fishing was running trotlines in the backwaters of Morgan County near the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge with my grandfather. My job in the boat was to cut the fiddle worms into small enough pieces and rolling them in cornmeal to bait the lines (not sure how the cornmeal step helped).
The preferred outcome of our trips was to catch enough fish to feed a large family gathering. But I also learned a life lesson in conservation. Never take more than needed.
My early memories with my grandfather helped me to appreciate our natural resources and the need to instill these same values in future generations.
I always try to help other anglers in their success, not by revealing my secret fishing spots, but by sharing techniques and general knowledge.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to meet other anglers that are willing to share their knowledge of the sport. One individual, in particular, is Captain Jason Bridges. He taught me the importance of boat control, reading the river conditions including current and water temperatures. He has also taught me to stick to the basics and the things that work for me.
I started tournament fishing in 2015. It took over a year before I won my first event. This particular win is especially memorable because I had my brother and two uncles in the boat.
I believe in the importance of sharing the catfishing experience with others that might not have the opportunity otherwise. This year, I have volunteered my efforts to assist Kevin Breedlove and others with Patriot Catfishing. It’s a nonprofit organization with a mission to take Wounded Warriors fishing. Also, I have volunteered with Hope Outdoors, a nonprofit that takes handicapped children fishing, sometimes for their first time.
I also enjoy fishing with friends. One trip involved a friend Steve and his son Max. On the way out to fish, I asked Max what his biggest catfish was?
“I caught one big one the other day,” replied Max. “It was 10 pounds.”
The first fish we caught that morning was around 6 pounds. The second fish was about 25 pounds and Max was grinning from ear to ear. Then we hit a 65-pound blue. There are no words to convey the excitement in the boat between Max his dad and myself.
My five young grandchildren will probably never have the experience of fishing out of a homemade plywood boat but hopefully, they will have great memories of fishing alongside “Pops” in his G3 Sportsman 2400.
My words of advice to anyone participating in the sport is to first and foremost enjoy your time on the water. Secondly, pass on your passion for the sport to future generations. These are the best of reasons to catfish!