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Fishing group gathers at Catfish Country

Telly Fowler, holds up a 13-pound four-ounce catfish at Catfish and Carp Country in Iron Station Thursday evening. Amy Wadsworth / LTN Photo

David McGraw said the lemon butter cream flavoring is best for the carp fishing right now.
He bends down over his bucket to put more of the bait on his fishing rod.
“This is the best carp lake around. The fish bite good and all as long as you give them what they want,” he said.
Catfish & Carp Country in Iron Station seems to be the place to be once the workday is through.
Fishermen wait quietly in their lawnchairs waiting for the fish to bite, coming as early as 5:30 p.m. and staying until 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. on the weekends.
Others sit around and talk, their voices echoing across the lake.
Dwain and Lisa Exline have been owners of the two lakes, catfish and carp for roughly 14 months. But the lakes have been there for 30 years or more.
For roughly 18 years the lakes were closed down, but the Exline’s have been the people that came in and brought it back to life.
Grading, landscaping, a stock of catfish and carp, shacks and sheds, trees and lights are some of the things that the couple have done to help improve the popular venue.
“Catfish Country is a well known name, the lake has a good reputation,” Dwain said. “We have given it a nice facelift.”
The two lakes are separated by buoys and most people who come to fish prefer carp or catfish.
The catfish come from South Carolina and Dwain hauls them in October, November and December. The carp come from up North, usually from Ohio.
On an average Friday or Saturday night, there can be roughly 96 people out fishing for catfish.
Catfish can make a great dinner, but only if it is under five pounds. If it is over five pounds it has to be put back in the lake. For a price of $7, you can keep up to seven pounds per ticket.
The carp fishing is entirely for fun. Money is won on the heaviest weighing fish. Once the fish is weighed, it is deposited back in the lake.
Larry Pearson, of Cramerton comes a least once a week to fish carp.
“This is a good lake,” he said. “It’s got good fish in it.”
Tom Ritch of Charlotte is also a carp fisher and comes at least four to five times a week.
“I like sitting up here with the guys, telling fish stories,” he said.
Johnny Scott, of Iron Station used to work with Louis Ballard, the man who created the lakes.
He is glad to see the lakes up and running again.
“They came in and took over, it’s a nice lake and it’s well improved,” Scott said.
He comes carp fishing at least three days a week.
“I like the lake, the scenery, the people, it’s a good crowd of people,” he said. “We get along good.”
Catfish & Carp Country is located at 4818 Old Plank Road, off of N.C. 73.
Hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., gates open at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The venue is open all year long. It only closes Dec. 15 for Christmas and then re-opens Jan. 1.
“We have to give the fisherman a break,” Dwain said. “You would be surprised all the stuff they get for Christmas.”
For more information call 704-732-1404.

David McGraw prepares some lemon butter flavored bait to put on his fishing rod at the carp lake at Catfish and Carp Country in Iron Station. McGraw fishes at least three days a week. Amy Wadsworth / LTN Photo

by Amy Wadsworth

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