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Legend Biography

Keith Sutton


Prolific Wildlife Journalist

Sponsors: Coming Soon

Keith “Catfish” Sutton’s first article about the outdoors was published in 1978, the same year he earned a degree in wildlife management at Arkansas State University. In the years since, this Arkansas native’s stories about fishing, hunting, nature, outdoor recreation and conservation have been read by millions of people around the world.

Sutton had no training as a journalist when he started writing for a small weekly newspaper, but his stories and photographs have since appeared in hundreds of magazines, newspapers and websites, including titles as diverse as Field & Stream, In-Fisherman, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Front Porch, Cooking Wild, Sporting Classics, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Progressive Farmer. He also has written 13 books and contributed to 92 more, including Hardcore Catfishing, Hunting Arkansas, The Crappie Fishing Handbook and Duck Gumbo to Barbecued Coon: A Southern Game Cookbook, which he co-authored with his wife Theresa.

Sutton’s work has been featured not only in print media but on television and the Internet as well. In 2005, he provided weekly commentary on fishing in “The Casting Couch” TV show he hosted on ESPN2, and his fishing show “Roughing It” ran weekly for the same network in 2008. His “Out There” adventure column and special features have appeared continuously on since 2001, with a readership in the millions.

Sutton served 19 years as editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s award-winning magazine, Arkansas Wildlife, and has served in various editorial positions with Outdoor Life, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Outdoor Channel, Cabela’s Outfitter Journal, ESPN Outdoors, Grandview Media and other companies. From July 2009 to May 2011, he served as executive director of the Future Fisherman Foundation, where he guided the direction of such youth education programs as Hooked On Fishing Not On Drugs, Physh Ed and C.A.T.C.H. (Caring Anglers Teaching Children How). He currently works as Senior Vice President of Field Communications for the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation in Little Rock.

His recognitions have been many. In 2012, Sutton was enshrined in the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Communicator, and twice he has been honored as Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation. He has received more than 70 awards and special recognitions from Outdoor Writers Association of America, Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA), Association for Conservation Information, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Izaak Walton League of America, International Association of Business Communicators, American Farm Bureau Federation and other organizations.

In 1994, Keith and his wife Theresa founded C & C Outdoor Productions Inc., an Arkansas-based writing, photography, lecturing and editorial service whose clients have included the Arkansas Dept. of Parks & Tourism, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Motion Picture Development Office, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s Inc., Game & Fish Publications, Globe Pequot Press, Harris Publications, IDG Books Worldwide, Meredith Books, National Wild Turkey Federation, North American Outdoor Group, PRADCO Outdoor Brands, Quarto Publishing Group, Shakespeare Fishing Tackle, Skyhorse Publishing, TTI Companies, Voyageur Press and many more. They have six grown sons.

Those who know Sutton also know he’s worked diligently promoting fishing. While other writers focused specifically on “glamor” species such as bass and trout, Sutton made it a personal goal to promote fishing for lesser-known yet fun-to-catch fishes. He’s written about almost every species of fish in North America, from bass, crappie, bluegills, walleyes and redfish to gar, bowfins, fliers, lingcods and stingrays. His fishing forays have taken him to four continents.

In particular, he’s known for advancing the sport of catfishing, and his efforts in this regard are in large part responsible for the fact that these whiskered polebenders are now widely considered worthy sportfish instead of “trash fish.” He’s been called “the dean of catfishing” and “America’s number one catfisherman” and has written four books on the subject. Of his book Fishing for Catfish, which was chosen Best Outdoor Book of 2000 by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Doug Stange, executive editor of In-Fisherman magazine wrote, “While other books about catfishing have been written, none are so comprehensive in their coverage and so impressive in their illustration of this topic of concern to 10 million catfish anglers. This marks history ...”

During his long career, Sutton also has earned great respect as a mentor who takes time from his busy schedule to encourage others who dream of being outdoor communicators. He credits his own mentors—people like Homer Circle, Glenn Titus, Glenn Sapir, J. Wayne Fears and Jim Spencer—for teaching him about those things such as ethics and dedication that are necessary to be successful in this field. And he’s quick to tout the value and importance of sharing knowledge with others as his mentors took time to do for him. He never turns a cold shoulder to anyone who asks for his advice and has spent hundreds of hours teaching others through seminars, writing and, most importantly, one-on-one instruction. Many successful people in the field claim him as their mentor, including successful writers, editors, photographers and publishers.

He accomplished much of this work through professional organizations, particularly the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association where he served as president and long-time board member. In 2002, SEOPA presented him its prestigious Tom Rollins Award to recognize his extraordinary devotion and service to the organization and its members.

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