Renne 'CatDaddy' Shumway

Catfishing 101 – Huge Flathead Impacted CatDaddy's Life

Tornado sirens began to wail, and a young boy’s eyes widened in fear as his father prepared to close the family’s bait shop in Topeka, Kan.

Just then an old Ford station wagon pulled into the parking area. The grizzled driver slid out from beneath the steering wheel and opened the rear door.

“This old boy had the biggest dad-gone flathead catfish I had ever laid eyes on,” recalled Renne “CatDaddy” Shumway.

Rain pelted the two men and the 10-year-old boy as they wrestled the 97-pound flathead out of the station wagon and into the bait shop. It was June 8, 1966, and a devastating tornado was
about to demolish portions of Topeka. But the boy’s attention was riveted on that flathead.

“I’ll never forget that night because it was the biggest tornado Topeka ever had,” Shumway said. “That ol’ fish made a couple of swirls with his tail, splashed a bunch of water up on the power box and knocked out the electricity. My dad had to hook up an aerator to a 12-volt battery to keep everything going in the bait shop.

Shumway’s love affair with catfish was cemented that night. The colorful guide and tournament
angler will present catfishing seminars during the four-day Omaha Boat, Sports and Travel Show that begins Feb. 21 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha.

Because they are so readily available, catfish have long been a popular species. For the most
part, they have been considered a blue-collar fish. But that impression is changing as more anglers are climbing aboard the catfish express.

Shumway has risen to star status among the catfishing community. This past year he was featured on Legends of Rod and Reel, a television show seen on the Outdoor Channel. The show focuses only on Hall of Fame-type anglers.

“Getting to be on that show is the pride of my life,” Shumway said. “I’ve always dreamed of getting on it. They called and asked if I would like to do it. I said, ‘You ain’t here yet? Get yourself down here. The fish are biting. Let’s go.”

Shumway’s expectations soar when the fish are biting in Kansas. The world record flathead was caught 12 years ago from the Elk City Reservoir. It weighed 123 pounds and was 61 inches long.

“I’ve noticed a change in what people fish with,” Shumway said. “The quality of their gear has increased, and so has the quality of the fish they’re catching. A lot of records have been broken the last few years.”