If you knew him, you were entertained. If you loved him, you were blessed.
Zenus was known by many names, but I got to call him Uncle Zenus. He had the best homecoming to Heaven on December 1. And today, his family and friends are saying see you later to the Catfishing Preacher, Zip, Cuz, husband, dad, pawpaw and for us... Uncle Zenus. He will be missed but his tall tales will live on through all that knew him.
In the early days of the magazine, my dad and I had the pleasure of tagging along with Zenus on a catfish adventure. It was something I won’t ever forget and I thought it was appropriate to share it with you all today.
Hard work never hurt anybody, don’t let it hurt you.
She got all her looks from her daddy…Her mama still has hers.
Now, don’t be looking at the time because I am going to talk for a minute.
Zenus Windsor has been called a lot of things in his time: preacher, storyteller, salesman, and fisherman but the best way to describe him is personality because he is full of it.
He takes all things serious but loves to tell a good story (as long as its true) and has just as much passion for fishing. He doesn't bother with bass or crappie, his species of choice is the catfish. He hunts for the elusive beast all year and the time of year dictates how he goes about catching the big ones.
He fishes with boxes and baskets but for Lake Wedowee Life's journey with Catfishing Preacher he shared with us his own unique way of catching the big ones. When most people think of fishing, they believe they need a fancy rod and reel and special gadgets to make sure the job gets done.
"Fishing in the traditional sense can cost you a lot of money," Windsor said. "The way I fish I spend less than $5 on my gear."
Instead of a flashy rod, he uses a 10-foot piece of 1/2 inch PVC pipe with a cord thread through it and secured with a washer at the end. He doesn't need to use a reel (which will be explained a little later) and his hook is a #10 treble hook with the eye of the hook inside the pipe and the three barbs exposed.
"The first thing you need to know is that I don't fish with your typical bait and I catch huge fish," Windsor said. "The biggest fish I caught like this weighed about 50 pounds."
The bait of choice for Windsor and his buddies is a latex balloon preferably red or yellow in color. "It's dark down there and those fish see the balloons," he said. "We thread the balloon around the hook and the fish just go for it."
His method of catching the big ones could be compared to the extreme sport of hand fishing which is also known as noodling or grabbling in this part of the world, but he doesn't take near the risk those enthusiasts do. However, it does take patience and skill not to mention knowing what you are "feeling" for. When it comes to using this method, you have to have your wits about you and know the signs.
June and July are the best times to fish this way because the female catfish have laid their eggs and have left the male in charge of guarding the brood.
"It's kinda like having a pasture full of cows and only one bull," Windsor said. "We don't fish for the female cats because we want to preserve the species."
The fish typically lay eggs in holes under the water close to the shoreline typically around boat ramps, and Windsor wades through the water feeling around for those holes with his feet.
"I have fished all of these lakes but Lake Weiss is the best for me because it is shallow," he said. "And, it is an older lake that has more busted boat ramps."
Once he finds a hole he jabs the makeshift rod in the hole to see if anything is home. "If the cat is at home he will bite because he is protection the eggs," Windsor said. "He feels threatened so he will attack."
The trick is to hold the line tight until the fish exits the hole. Once that happens the fight is on. "Sometimes you have to force the cat out of the hole with your hand, and it might bite you but that's when its important to know what kind of catfish you got," Windsor said.
He usually catches Appaloosas also known as yellow cat or flathead, however he occasionally runs up on a blue cat. "Blue cats are a little meaner than yellow cats," Windsor said. "Flatheads will bite you and let go, but the blue cats will bite and try to drown you."
"A blue cat got me one time and it was like my finger was in a vise and he tried to take my arm off." After Windsor coaxes the catfish out of his home, he drops the cord and the washer creates a makeshift fishing pole. And, Windsor uses it to pull the fish up the boat ramp.
"You don't see a lot of people fishing this way because it is hard work," he said. "But when you hear people say they would go fishing if they knew the fish would bite, you know they haven't tried this because the fish bite every time."