Other Sports

Local angler Mac Byrum finds catch-all at Lake Norman

Many anglers likely figure it isn’t possible to catch most of Lake Norman’s fish species using a single, offbeat technique and the same type of lure.

Mac Byrum of Denver, N.C., known in the area as a catfishing expert and guide, is proving it can be done and in a most unusual way.

Byrum, 75, is trolling a popular topwater lure, the elongated Devil Horse, along the lake’s bottom.

That’s right!

He is getting the surface plug down deep with a 11/4-ounce weight that looks like a 9-inch plastic worm used in bass fishing. But it’s really quarter-inch parachute cord that Byrum orders online and inserts with No. 4 buckshot.

Byrum concocted the strange combination, which he calls “Mac’s Catch All,” in May while looking back on his many years of fishing at Lake Norman.

“I was sitting in a rocker on a porch at home overlooking the lake,” he said. “I thought about all the lures I’d used years ago while striper fishing – lures I still had stored in tackle boxes.

“I started trying to figure out which of these lures I might use for blue catfish and hybrids. Then it hit me. All catfish have thousands of sensors in their bodies for detecting odors, sight, touch (the barbels about the mouth) and electrical impulses from the movement of other fish.

“Electrical impulses were the key… The Devil Horse has small propellers front and rear that would emit the impulses I needed.”

Byrum used 50-pound test line as a leader to connect the lure to a swivel and his regular fishing line. He attached what he calls the “slinky weight” to the swivel as a drop sinker on a 12-inch length of 20-pound test line.

“If the rig snagged on something, I could break the 20-pound test line and save a $7 lure,” he explained.

Beginning his first test run, Byrum determined that he could get both propellers on his Devil Horse to spin by trolling at 1 mph.

Mostly working an underwater ridge line 20-30 feet deep, Byrum, fishing alone, caught two large crappie, a largemouth bass, a spotted bass, a sunfish, two hybrids and four channel catfish.

During the next week he fine-tuned to attract his favorite quarry, blue catfish.

“I added a small piece of cut white perch to the middle set of treble hooks on the Devil Horse,” continued Byrum, “and the result was 19 blue cats caught and released in a single morning.”

Two weeks ago Byrum took fishing buddy Jake Bussolini of Mooresville along to demonstrate the new tactic. Bussolini, author of several books on angling, and Byrum caught fish after fish over a two-hour span with a final count of three crappie, three channel catfish, five blues and a 20-pound flathead catfish.

“Mac’s Catch All” obviously is equal to its name. He might add to the monicker, “And Plenty of Them.”

Related stories from Charlotte Observer