This section is from the book "Frank Forrester's Fishermens' Guide", by Frank Forrester.
This is a fresh water bottom fish found in streams and ponds all over the United States. There are several kinds of them, which vary in size from a couple of inches in length up to those monsters of the same species which inhabit the mud banks of the Mississippi river, and the great Western lakes. The common cat-fish is of a dusky color on the back, which gradually lightens towards the belly, the belly itself being of a light greyish hue. The sides of the head are greenish, and some species of them have small prickly horns. They are taken in great abundance, and their size varies with the size of the stream, or the richness of their feeding ground. In good situations in large rivers they weigh from one to four pounds. In the Mississippi, and the lakes of Northern New York, they grow to twenty, thirty, fifty, and even one hundred pounds. It is an easy matter to catch cat-fish. You have only to procure tackle strong enough to draw them out of the water, using a hook according to the expected size of your game. A single or double gut leader is necessary, according to the strength required. Minnows, pieces of fish, shad-roe, worms, toasted cheese, insects, pieces of meat or liver, chickens offal - any of these baits will attract the cat-fish. You can fish with hand lines, or with a rod, as you may prefer. The proper hook is the Limerick salmon from No. 1 to 5, according to the size of your fish. They do not bite very vigorously, but perform a series of fine nibbles, similar to the bite of an eel. The cat-fish is an excellent pan fish when properly cooked. In St. Louis the large ones are sold in market like our large sea-fish, being cut up in steaks of the size desired by the purchaser. They are plentiful always in mud bottoms, above mill-dams, and in coves of the river. The large ones are often taken by trolling with artificial squid or fly. The time for fishing cat-fish be-gins in April, and lasts until cold weather.