Find Catfish in Holes PDF Print E-mail
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Written by John Phillips   
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 12:10
BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA - 07/10/2012 - Editor's Note: Phil King is not only a catfish guide, but he's one of the nation's and the world's top tournament catfishermen, having competed in the World Catfish Classic in Spain.
King guides on the Tennessee River near Pickwick Lake and Memphis, Tennessee. In 2009, King took first place in the Bass Pro Shop Big Cat Quest tournament held in Memphis with nine catfish weighing 234 pounds. His largest catfish was a 67.10-pound blue cat. For much of his life, King has fished either full-time or part-time as a commercial catfisherman on the Tennessee River. He knows the places in the river where the big cats hang-out, because he's fished this river for more than 2 decades.

"I don't know why catfish prefer chicken livers, because they certainly aren't found naturally in anywhere," King says. "But I've learned that during the hottest part of the summer, for some reason, chicken livers produce more and bigger cats during hot weather than any-other bait I've ever fished." King's catfish honey hole at Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River is a spot in the middle of the river where the bottom drops off from 41 to 78 feet. "Upriver of the hole are a lot of mussel beds," King explains. "The cats feed on those mussels and then come back and rest in the hole. At this particular spot, the river necks-down. Even when there's not much current coming-through the river, this place almost always has more current than other locations on the river do. Anytime you can find a spot where a river becomes a bottleneck, and the area has plenty of current as well as a deep hole in it, you not only can find cats there but specifically big cats."

King fishes with bottom-bumping tackle and techniques. King also carries with him a large dip net, another of his secrets for landing big cats. "Many big cats are lost at the boat because an angler isn't prepared to boat a large catfish," King comments. "I use a 32-inch x 27-inch size dip net. Then, I can get a big cat in the net and pull it into the boat." King caught his biggest catfish ever, a 64 pounder, in 1997 during the National Catfish Derby. King has spent his lifetime fishing and more than 25 years targeting catfish on the Tennessee River and other places, including overseas. He'll take two anglers catfishing with their rods and reels all day, and they'll average 30 to 100 pounds of cats. "All the fishermen have to do is show-up with their fishing licenses, what they want to eat and drink and an ice chest to carry home their catches," King says. "I provide the rods, the reels, the hooks, the tackle and the bait. I clean the fish for them and then put the fish in their ice chests." To fish with Phil King's Catfishing Guide Service, call 662-286-8644, or go to

In John E. Phillips' new Kindle book, "Catfish Like a Pro," he interviews some of the best catfishermen in the world, to learn the techniques for not only catching big catfish, but also for catching large numbers of eating-size catfish. Or, you can go to, and type-in the name of the book to find it.

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