Grand Forks, N.D., catfish guide Brad Durick recently released "Cracking the Channel Catfish Code," his first self-published book, which digs deeper into the habits of these hard-fighting fish that inhabit the Red River than previous catfish books on the market.
In this question-and-answer session with Grand Forks Herald outdoors writer Brad Dokken, Durick talks about what how the book came about and what readers can expect.
Here's an edited transcript of that exchange.
QUESTION: What prompted you to write the book?
ANSWER: I had years of research and patterning put together, and it was really beginning to help me stay on the catfish consistently, especially during the tough bites. As I talked to people about my findings, there was a genuine interest in how the systems I was developing worked. It seemed like a good idea to share this newfound knowledge to help people catch more channel catfish.
There has not been any really new catfish information published in quite some time so I decided to go for it on my own.
Q: How did you come up with the title?
A: The title just sort of came to be, as every time I answered one of my own questions during the research process or had a breakthrough moment, I always thought I was one step closer to "cracking the code."
Q: Judging by the title, I'm guessing this is more than a how-to catfish book. How would you say the book differs from other catfish books on the market?
A: I researched channel catfish. Through studying growth patterns and food requirements used by catfish farms in the South and learning more about how water temperature affects their metabolism and dictates when and why they do what they do throughout the year.
I spent a lot of time explaining how channel cats relate to changes in river flow. Living here on the Red River I have seen it all; fishing from extreme low water to flood stage there are a lot of variables that play into where the fish are at any given time.
I introduce a pattern that I developed two years ago and perfected last year called "lateral movement" and how it works for patterning areas of any river.
Once I explain how water temperature, metabolism, river flow, and other factors affect catfish I then go season by season explaining how all of the factors play into a catfish's life and how to effectively use this knowledge to catch them consistently.
To keep it interesting and not so much like a text book I also tell a lot of stories of defeat on the water that led to an aspect of my research. I then added stories of success after I "cracked the code." I think it is important for people to know that even guides don't always hit the home run but can learn something from each bad outing to try to prevent it from happening again.
I also interviewed people from the industry so this would not be only one man's opinions. I interviewed veteran catfish writers Doug Stange from In-Fisherman as well as Keith "Catfish" Sutton, who has written three catfish books of his own. I also interviewed biologists, professional catfish anglers, and other experts who I felt could help solidify the information in the book.
Q: Who do you see as your target audience for the book?
A: In my mind, the target audience is people who enjoy catfishing and want to dig deeper into catching more and bigger channel catfish. This book assumes that the readers already know the basics of channel cat fishing and are looking to take their skills to the next level.
People like catfish stories and photos and just like to learn a thing or two should also like this book.
Q: Is the book specific to the Red River or can it be applied to other bodies of water?
A: While most of the on the water research was compiled on the Red River it the information will apply to any river with channel catfish. A catfish is a catfish and a river is a river wherever you go. There are some adjustments that need to be made to make it effective in other areas but I tell everyone how to make those adjustments. As far as the patterning of fish it is pretty universal wherever you go.
Q: Talk a little bit about the writing process. Was it difficult to avoid getting bogged down in technicalities and jargon? How long did you spend working on the book?
A: I thought the research and writing were fun, until the editing part arrived. I have never claimed to be a writer and when I drafted the book it came out part research paper, part seminar. After working with the editor we softened it into more of a seminar format throughout.
The research used in this book started in 2010 with some statistics dating back to 2007. The research itself is still ongoing, in fact I added some pattern info I collected in early August of 2013 (just a few weeks ago) right before sending to press.
I started writing the book in September 2012 and the book went to press August 28, 2013.
Q: Any advice for others who might be thinking about wading into the self-publishing game?
A: Self-publishing is an interesting endeavor. One thing I have found is that you have to do your homework on services offered to make sure you are getting the most for your money.
Set goals for yourself as far as completion dates. It is really easy to get tired of working on the project and forget about it. Self-publishing has nobody to come down on you for deadlines; you have to set and follow that yourself. In my case I had to set a release date early and make sure people in the catfishing industry knew about it so I would keep the motivation to plow ahead and complete it. I was able to release three weeks ahead of schedule.
Marketing, marketing, marketing! I am just in the beginning stages of this step now. Self-published work doesn't come with a marketing department for you so get ready to sell. Big book buyers don't want self-published or print on-demand works so you have to do the leg work yourself.
Q: How's the response been so far?
A: The response to the book has been fantastic. Now wait to see how that converts to sales.
Q: Anything else about the book you'd like to add?
A: This book is something that I believe the catfish world as whole was ready for. I hope it helps people better understand channel catfish and their local rivers then put the knowledge to work to catch fish more consistently.
About the book
Title: "Cracking the Channel Catfish Code."
Author: Brad Durick; 162 pages.
Available at: Online at www.catfishcode.com, Scheels in Grand Forks, Fergus Books and
Media in Grand Forks, and online at Amazon.com and bottomdwellerstackle.com.
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