Catfishing has changed since we last went


When we were kids of pretty much any age, pre-teens, teens, and even young adults, we’d arise in the wee hours of the morning — or perhaps stay up all night — and head out from our house in Newton over to the Ross Barnett Reservoir Spillway and fish for catfish all night long. Prior to Interstate 20 being built our route took us along the narrow and treacherous U.S. Highway 80 right through the center of Forest and Scott County.

There was an old ice house in Morton, I think, where we would stop and buy ice by the block and it would come sliding out of a big tin shoot. That ice would preserve our catch of the day until we arrived home in the evening and began cleaning the fish. It seems that we always filled up at least an ice chest or two with those slimy, whiskered critters and the cleaning process went on forever.

Suppertime was a fine time in those days with the cooker roaring under the carport and hushpuppies, and catfish and french fries going in and out of the hot oil in that order. The hushpuppies had to be sampled for doneness, and it always took more than one test for most of us. Of course, everyone knows french fries go in last because they clean up the grease. If you didn’t know that already, rest assured you’ve been doing it wrong all your life!

Let’s not forget the coleslaw, no proper fish fry is complete without a big bowl of creamy, sweet coleslaw sitting right next to the ketchup. Heinz Ketchup that is. No tarter sauce needed, wanted, or desired back in those days.

That said, as my mouth watered a bit at the recollection, I have to admit I was a little surprised Monday morning as I read a report on the subject of “catfishing.”

The National Catfishing Report was said to contain “state and yearly comparisons,” and began by identifying the Top Five Worst States for catfishing. Those states, beginning with the worst, are Alaska, Nevada, Wisconsin, Washington, and California. I was not at all surprised that Alaska was the worst state for catfishing. In fact I didn’t even know you could catch a catfish in Alaska.

As I read on I found out that “catfishing has claimed a toll of over $300 million in the past year, a significant increase from years prior.” I was surprised by this because when we went catfishing at the Reservoir we usually had a brown paper sack full of catalpa worms that we had harvested the day before from my Mawmaw’s three trees in her front yard over at Hayes Crossing, near Sulphur Springs Baptist Church. They were free! That house is gone, but those trees are still there.

Other times we might scratch up a bucket of night crawlers from beneath the leaves and pine straw, and I suppose you could say, when we were feeling thrifty we would buy a bucket of minnows — we called ‘em shinners  — at the Pelahatchie Bay Trading Post before heading on down Spillway Road to the lake. If memory serves me correctly they didn’t cost that much, and, I will assure you that those blocks of ice we’d picked up in Morton didn’t set us back too much either, or we would have resorted to the freezing of water in milk jugs method instead.

So, I read on. To my surprise, and a snicker or two at my own ignorance, “the advent and proliferation of dating apps/services have all but ensured that deceptive online behavior (Catfishing) is here to stay — whether potential victims are aware of the dangers or not.”

My friends, let it now be known that this kind of catfishing does not provide one with a yummy dinner after a long day at the lake. Well, I guess it could! This kind of catfishing costs money. This 2020 National Catfishing Report “was created by analyzing data from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and combining it with corresponding U.S. Census figures.”

The type of catfishing these folks are talking about is the act of deceiving someone online. “A ‘catfish’ assumes a fake identity, starts an online relationship with someone, and gains their trust. With trust established, the catfish usually sets a trap that swindles people out of money.”

Consider yourself forewarned, and now aware, of the dangers. For the record, Mississippi ranks 47th so don’t get carried away, or too paranoid.

Sorry if you’re hungry now...I was too!

Read the complete National Catfishing Report at