Brookhaven trio visit mighty Mississippi each week to go catfishing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Dr. Jim Barnett remembers those adolescent days when, if he could not find a pole, he went fishing with a milk jug.

You can Betsy the cow never envisioned that.

Folks tied fishing line to the empty gallons, which were used as makeshift floaters, and once it started making ripples in the water &045; fish on.

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Barnett, a self proclaimed &8220;country doctor&8221; who is also a Mississippi state legislator, still lives out those memories today with his weekly trips to the Mississippi River each week to run trot lines for catfish.

&8220;We put in at Old River in Vidalia and go across from the (Isle of Capri) casino an start running lines,&8221; said Barnett, a general surgeon. &8220;In all we run 10 miles of trot lines, I’d say.&8221;

Using different species of goldfish than you’d find in an aquarium as bait, Barnett and friends George and Stan Winborne from Brookhaven go up and down each bank of the river tying off lines to solid objects &045; a tree, rock, bush, etc.

Fifteen to 20 hooks extend down each line with a weight hanging from each one.

The trio, which use George Winborne’s Old Rivers’ camp as an entry, come over every Thursday to set the lines, marking each spot with a piece of fluorescent tape to identify the lines when they return the following day (&8220;It’s easy to forget,&8221; Barnett said).

&8220;It’s a lot of fun. We generally do real well,&8221; said Barnett, who also loves fishing for redfish and speckled trout of Mississippi and Louisiana’s gulf coast. &8220;I haven’t gone over there and not come back with a lot of fish.&8221;

A week before this past Thursday, Barnett and his cronies hauled in a 37-pound catfish. No doubt, the largest any of these weekly excursions has produced.

While the novelty of a monster such as that is exciting, Barnett tends to relish the smaller catches for simple reasons.

&8220;I like to get a lot of those 5- to 10-pounders,&8221; Barnett said. &8220;Those are good-eating fish. There is no fish that tastes as good as a river catfish.&8221;