Local Spotlight

Play Frisbee, Have a Picnic, Catch Some Catfish

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is about to give Houstonians another activity at their local parks: fishing.

Now, plenty of folks already fish at parks around Houston. My personal favorite spot is at River Terrace Park in Channelview -- it's got a great view, to boot -- but the TPWD is going to be stocking actual ponds in two area parks with that Texas favorite, catfish.

Starting this week, Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy and Tom Bass I Park in South Houston will have their ponds stocked with channel catfish throughout the summer. The stockings will occur once every two weeks until October 21, with exact dates not announced to prevent people from waiting with their fishing poles for the TPWD fish-wranglers to show up.

Catching catfish is a great outdoor activity, a Texas tradition, that's also a great family bonding experience. You will always remember threading stink bait onto hooks with your grandfather or the first time your hand goes numb after accidentally being stuck with a catfish's pectoral spines. No, seriously; it's fun.

But you won't be able to just put out trotlines in the ponds and come back in the morning. There is a limit to how you can catch the catfish, as well as how many you can take in one go.

Anyone over the age of 17 who fishes in the two ponds must have a valid fishing license. These aren't so hard to get, and an all-water license only costs $40. You can even purchase them online. And even better news: Your kids don't need a license at all.

You can only fish with poles at the parks, and you can't use more than two poles while fishing (no setting up ten poles in a row and then guarding them, Mr. Greedy). And the daily limit is five catfish per day. Again, the good news: There's no minimum length limit, which is also great for kids just learning how to fish.

And at the end of the day, there's nothing quite as rewarding as having a fish fry with catfish you bought yourself. Just soak them in milk before you fry them up to remove any muddy flavor, then make some hushpuppies to go with your catch, a quick bowl of coleslaw and enjoy the fruits of your fishing labor.

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Katharine Shilcutt