Whiskers are sprouting up all over. In my neighborhood chock-full of 30-something fishing guides, mustaches and sideburns have become the rage.
“You look just like Tom Selleck starring as Magnum P.I.,” I said to one young man while I was out walking little whiskerless Rollo and his sporty summer Shih Tzu crew cut. Continuing my walk I saw very noticeable whiskers on another young man, a musician in the neighborhood, whose sideburns bore a startling resemblance to country singer George Jones.
On my early spring tour of the community garden near the Jackson Hole Middle School, I encountered a young man with a mustache I can best describe as a full on Sheriff Zimmer.
“How long have you had your mustache?” I asked the young man.
“All my life, I was born with it,” he said.
“You mother must have been very proud,” I said.
I went on to explain how we once had a Sheriff Zimmer who wore a mustache just like his, in addition to many of the Teton County sheriff’s officers who also sported similar big handlebar mustaches.
“Cool,” the young man said, pleased with himself.
This gentleman’s mustache made my day. I’d forgotten the era of men in Jackson donning big, big mustaches — often involving mustache wax purchased at Stone Drug. Our plumber and several of his staff looked just like Sheriff Zimmer along with many of our local cowboys, one of whom always referred to me as “Darlin’.”
None of the men then paired their mustaches with earrings or skinny sideburns. There were the mutton chops guys, who wore ripped Western shirts and pressed jeans; the ones who let their sideburns grow to meet their beards, bearing a startling resemblance to our eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren.
Whiskers can be a weird thing on men and on fish. Another of my neighborhood fishing guides who has very tidy tapered sideburns mentioned to me that he was going off to Glendo Reservoir to try his hand at catching some long-whiskered channel cats for a change of pace.
“Only fish on the darkest of nights,” I told him.
“You go cat fishing?” he asked me, taking in my pearl earrings.
Oh yeah. I’ve been catfishing, at night, in Glendo with the secret bait, the slip bobber and bell.
I wished the young guide good luck. I refrained from telling him I considered Glendo the one spot on earth that surely was built over a direct vent to hell.
There is in my mind no more horrible place to be than Glendo, Wyoming. Nonetheless it is a popular fishery where the largest channel cat in Wyoming was caught, weighing 25 or 30 pounds. There are also flies beyond compare, toads, feral cats that stalk the toads and unbearable heat. It is also wildly beautiful and horrible all at the same time, just like the big-mouthed, whiskered channel catfish.
Wyoming Game and Fish biologists have stocked more than 20,000 channel cats in Glendo, raised at the Joe Hogan Fish Hatchery in Lonke, Arkansas.
At the end of 2019 about 6,000 of the Arkansas fingerling channel cats were portioned off and brought to the Wyoming Department of Corrections Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk. Selected women inmates were trained to raise the fingerlings to 13- to 14- inch stocking size. Perfect for anglers.
In July of last year the pan-sized cats were released by Game and Fish biologists into ponds throughout Wyoming. This year the women prisoners in Lusk have raised another batch of the fingerlings. Again the fish will be released in ponds this summer. Various reservoirs throughout the state have been stocked with small fingerling channel catfish. Trout alternative fishing opportunities abound.
I love the thought of going on a Wyoming road trip to try my luck fishing for some pan catfish. How great it will be to simply sit in a chair, in the sunshine, fishing for stocked channel cats. A sensible less extreme form of cat fishing if you will.
I’ve been in the Atchafalaya Basin accompanying fishermen while they checked their limb lines and trotlines in late spring with hungry gators lining the shores of the Louisiana swamp. I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t especially want to have to sharpen my hooks, dig out my catfish-skinning pliers, and wash the blood off a bunch of catfish fillets after fishing all night either. But catching a couple of nice little channel catfish for a nice pot of catfish sauce piquante made with my secret blend of roux, onions, bell pepper and garlic would be lovely simmered in a cast-iron Dutch oven over some good hot coals on a Wyoming summer night.