Take a look at the photo above. It was shot by outdoor writer and my long-time friend Jeff Samsel on a recent trip to Virginia’s James River. This cat was one of a few that helped Jeff and company rack up a one-day catfish weight total of 244 pounds. I urge you to check out his trip report and photo gallery in “Fighting the James River Blues.”

I have to admit that I don’t have much catfishing experience. Perhaps it’s because catfishing isn’t really part of the Northeast culture. My biggest ever was probably 10 pounds, and I caught it on a worm intended for trout at age nine.

I realize that fish like the ones in Jeff’s story are monsters, but here’s the way I see it: The take isn’t that inspiring…they don’t explode on topwaters or anything. The best fishing is often in dirty, murky water with a rod sitting in a holder. The tackle is brutally heavy. And catfish are, well, kinda ugly if you ask me.

I’m not criticizing cafishing. What I’m trying to learn from you is, what’s the appeal? Is it that they’re good eating? The pure size? The fight? All of the above? Not long ago, you guys adamantly defended carp when Merwin asked this same question in a blog titled “Sell Me On Carp.” So let’s hear why you (and I should) love big old cats.