Eunice’s Wendell Young unhooked a gold catfish from his bream-baited trotline April 30 in Indian Creek Reservoir near Woodworth.
Like many other Acadiana prairie anglers, 66-year-old Wendell Young of Eunice has spent a lifetime fishing for catfish in Louisiana waters.
“As soon as I was able to hold a rod and reel, I was out there with my dad fishing and setting lines near Schooner Bayou and the Intracoastal Waterway south of Kaplan,” Young said. “We would often camp near the drawbridge off Schooner Bayou and cook fresh catfish – frying fillets and also cooking them in our traditional couvillon (well-seasoned, deep-red tomato gravy).” Southeast Louisiana anglers also colloquially refer to such a gravy as catfish “courtbouillon.”
During these years, Young and his family have caught just about every species of catfish Louisiana waters provide – spotted (flathead) cats, blues, channel cats, pollywogs, white humpback catfish and all the others.
“I’ve also taken albino blue catfish – white bodies with pink eyes,” he said.
But Tuesday, April 30, he ended up unhooking a catfish with a color he had never observed before.
“It was a weird one,” the angler said.
From Sunday, April 28, to Friday, May 3, Young and Eunice’s Bert Miller fished the clear waters of Indian Creek Reservoir in Rapides Parish near Woodworth.
“We arrived Sunday evening allowing us enough time to bait a 15-hook trotline with bream and set it between two stumps in a cove where we had taken catfish before,” Young said. “I find that it is best to bait the lines close to dusk as you hook less garfish.”
On Monday morning, the line delivered a 35-pound spotted cat along with a channel catfish of 5 pounds. The rest of the day Young and Miller caught crappie – 10 fish ranging from 12 to 14 inches – on dark-bodied tube jigs with chartreuse tails along grasslines and structure in various locations in the reservoir.
“I remember the waters being so clear that we could see the sac-a-lait come up through the grass and hit the jigs,” Young said.
On Tuesday morning, a 10-pound spotted cat was the first fish taken off the trotline.
“Next was the weird catfish,” he said. “It was a gold color and I could tell right away it was a blue cat by the way the head was shaped, and its whiskers were heavier. There were no spots on its skin.
“I’m 99.9% sure it was a blue cat.”
Upon closer inspection of his prize, Young noted pink fins, whiskers and v-shaped, deeply forked tail. It weighed heavier than 5 pounds.
“My thinking is that the fish is a variation of an albino catfish although it didn’t have pink eyes,” he said. “When you look really good at its pink tail, you can see the deep fork.”
After posing for a picture with his prize, Young put the catfish in the livewell.
After fishing sac-a-lait for a while, the angler decided to release his fish back into Indian Creek Reservoir waters.
“It was a unique fish,” Young said. “I didn’t want to eat it, and I haven’t seen any mounted catfish.
“That’s why I decided just to let it go.”
A photo of the fish was eventually examined by Jody David, District 6 Inland Fisheries Biologist Manager with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
“I would have had to actually examine the catfish to identify it properly,” David said. “Looking at the picture, it could have been a blue cat. We don’t see a lot of them as they are uncommon.”
By Friday, the anglers had enough of fishing. In that time, they caught eight catfish in 5 mornings – one a 12-pound flathead taken Thursday. One small pollywog was taken and released – the only catfish caught on a noodle.
Their best sac-a-lait out of eight to 10 taken daily was 15 inches.
“All good sac-a-lait, but not great numbers,” Young said.
“But I’ll never forget that gold blue cat.”