Catfish Conference 2016 was a gathering of catfish enthusiasts from all walks of life. A walk through the crowed aisles would provide a confrontation with a tournament pro at one time and an everyday angler at another. The aisles were full of friendly people sharing their passion for catfishing.
There were catfish guides, tournament directors and fishing families showing their support for the catfishing way of life. Seminars were providing information on how to rig for catfish, where to look for catfish and how to take care of them once they were caught. Larry Muse was one of those seminar speakers and he also spent some time at the Bass Pro Shops Big Cat Quest Tournament Trail (BCQ) booth.
Muse was playing the meet, greet and answer questions role in the BCQ Booth. “There was lot of people asking questions,” said Muse. “They asked about all kinds of things related to catfishing. They also looked at the schedule to see when the tournament was coming close to their area. It was just great seeing so much interest in tournament fishing.”
Muse’s seminar was greeted with a standing room only crowd anxious to learn some of his secrets about catfishing. Anyone that knows Muse also knows that he is eager and willing to share information related to catfishing as well as information related to life. In true Muse fashion he opened the seminar with a prayer before sharing his proven tactics for catching the big ones.
Muse has won a lot of tournaments over the years. Some notable ones include the Sea Ark Invitational in 2013 and Monsters on the Ohio in 2015. He landed a 101.50 blue catfish in the Bass Pro Big Cat Quest Championship in 2008 and won 2nd place 4 times in the World Championship of Catfishing. He is the BCQ angler of the year for the past three years. It is no wonder that the overflowing seminar crowd was anxious to hear him talk about catfish.
In his mind, Muse truly believes that sharing information that will help anglers catch more fish is exactly what’s needed to help the sport grow. That growth includes more people fishing, but also more companies producing products for the sport and supporting the sport.
“One thing that I really pushed in my seminar was sharing information,” said Muse. “Sharing information is what will make the sport go. Forty years ago, and that’s the way I started my seminar, when I was in my teens and I was turkey hunting, there were turkey hunters that did not want to tell you anything. They didn’t want you to even know they were turkey hunting. Turkey hunting was stagnant, it didn’t grow for years and years.”
“I was trying to figure these calls out and I get a hold of an old box call and try to do something with that thing. Finally, what turned the tide was when Wilbur Freeman and Terrance Strickland put together a video on turkey hunting. I got the video and watched it. On the next weekend I went out and killed me a turkey. Look where turkey hunting has gone in the last 40 years. Look where bass fishing is. Look at crappie fishing, Ducks Unlimited and the Wild Turkey Federation. All those sports grew because people started sharing information.”
“The more organized our sport gets, the better it will be. The more information there is, the better it is. We gotta’ get the positive up, the negative down and keep God in it, because if God is in it, it is going to go.”
One of the great things about the conference was the visitors’ ability to compare products. They could check out specific rods and compare them to others that were represented there. The same thing was true with reels and line and other items. “In my seminar I mentioned the type of rod that I was bumping with,” said Muse. “After telling people how those rods worked they wanted one. I could tell them to go out there to the Bottom Dwellers Tackle booth and check them out.”
“I will guarantee you these vendors are glad they came,” said Muse. “Not only did they sell some stuff they got orders for stuff. It has been a plus day for everybody involved.”
Muse advises anglers to get over that bad feeling that sets in when they lose. “You know that old bad feeling you get when you don’t catch no fish,” questioned Muse. “I have had that many, many times and that is bad for the sport. The thing is, if it weren’t for that feeling when you lose it wouldn’t be so good when you win. So you got to have that, but you have to dull that feeling.”
“I have figured it out. The first thing you have to learn is to be a good loser in this sport because you are going to do a bunch of that. You start by going on through the weigh-in regardless of your weight. Don’t just say I didn’t do no good, put the boat on the trailer and head for the house. That doesn’t do you a bit of good. That just makes you more bitter. I’ve done that. That ain’t no good. You go on to the weigh-in and you make sure you go up and congratulate the winners. Show them that you are happy for em’. Share a little bit of their excitement and you will feel better when you get home.”
“I thought the seminar went great,” reasoned Muse. “Steve Douglas recorded that thing and I gave out so much information that Jeff Dodd and those Masingale boys are absolutely gong to want to ring my neck for telling everybody what I told them. If people can remember what I told them their fishing is going to be good.”
One of the tips that Muse revealed was the effect of falling water on the catfish. “I told them about falling water,” offered Muse.” If the water is falling I am going deep because that is where those fish headed as soon as the water started dropping. If you are out there anchored on a flat the day of a tournament and you see me go by I ain’t gonna’ come over there and say, hey you ain’t gonna catch nothing there. If you see me go by it’s got something to it.”
“I had a good time giving the seminar,” commented Muse. “I got a lot of questions afterwards. If you get questions that usually means you are getting peoples attention. There were a lot of people eager to learn about catfishing.”
“This conference was really great for the catfish world,” declared Muse. “I think a lot of guys were introduce to the manufactures. They know em’ and they got their cards. They can call them and can get real sure enough catfish stuff. They don’t have to use big box stuff and they don’t have to use rigged Dollar Store stuff. They can call David Ashby or they can call any of these guys and get some real catfish stuff, the same that the pros are using.”
“There is some stuff out there that is so nice. I am using some of the best there is, but there is some stuff out there I kind of like. It looks like everyone has a good price selection; it has not got out of hand and it really looks great. I just think it has been a wonderful conference.”
Muse thinks the conference will benefit the catfish industry into the future. “I can see all kinds of real good stuff down the road,” said Muse. “A lot of guys met today that will meet on a tournament trail somewhere. Now they know a little bit more about each other and they know a little bit more about these vendors. When they use these products they are going to get on Facebook and say I used this or I used that. They will talk about what they are using. They realize they are not just using stuff that came from a company somewhere. They have met the guy associated with the product. They will say, I have met the guy, the rod builder over here, and I am using his stuff. They met them B’n’M guys and learned from them. They met Steve Douglas and learned about Monster Rod Holders. It was that way all over the conference floor.”
Muse often uses religious references in his conversations and presentations. “Several people told me about mentioning religion,” said Muse. “They say that it takes a lot of guts to do that. Actually it is not hard for me at all. I have read the end of the Book. I know how this ends (chuckle). There was one young man that I talked to a good little bit. He told me he started going to church after he saw a video I did after Monsters on the Ohio.”
“In that video I talked about always wrapping my hooks 7 times. In the Bible the number 7 represents completeness and perfection. He said he got to wrapping those hooks seven times and every time he did he thought of God. Every time I wrapped a hook 7 times he said, you know I thought about God.”
“I said, now you catch more fish on Saturday than you did before, don’t you. He said, that’s exactly right and I said I did the same thing.”
“I am ecstatic about the conference,” continued Muse. “I never heard a negative comment out there and we need it for the sport. I pray to God everyday for my friends and I pray for my enemies. I pray that I can win them over with niceness, with goodness. All people have to do is let up a little. It is not that hard to be nice. Take it easy greasy. It is a whole lot easier to be kind.”
“This is the first of these conferences,” concluded Muse “Steve Douglas, Jim Hopper and Jeff Jones are planning on doing this thing every year. Each year more people will get involved. The word will get out to different fishermen and different vendors and future conferences will get bigger and better.”