by Jeff Williams of Osage Guide Service
Many of the people about to take one of my guided trips don't believe that Catfish feed as aggressively as other game fish. People are used to throwing out their bait and letting it set while they wait. Some days this works and they don't have to wait very long, but some days we all know that the wait can be very long. This waiting is what encouraged me to try to catch Blue Cats using other methods. Some techniques are passed down from generation to generation and these tried and true methods have caught Catfish since people have fished for them. I have used these methods most of my life and it was the way I was taught to catch Catfish. On the opposite end of the Cat-fishing spectrum, however, are two newer methods that I have been using to consistently catch Catfish, as well.
Fishing for Catfish
Ah, the American Catfish! The big three: Blues, Channel Cats and Flatheads; aren't they a wonderful species of fish? Each one has its own outstanding features to thrill Cat-fishermen and women throughout the United States and even worldwide. Flatheads, with their big, wide heads and flat tails, have my vote as the hardest pulling fish pound-for-pound in fresh water. No Cat-fisherman can talk very long without telling their favorite Channel Cat story.
Channel Cats live almost anywhere in fresh water and eat an enormous variety of baits, from prepared stink baits to live baits. I believe these whisker fish are the most versatile and adaptive members of the Catfish family. The next Catfish member, the Blue Cat, also commonly called a White Cat, gets my pick for the best all around, year-round Catfish. This is also the fish I target with my non-typical Cat-fishing techniques. Although Channel Cats and Flatheads are caught using these techniques, Blue Cats remain the king in mass numbers. These dudes grow big and fast and will strike your bait with a vengeance. Plus, they pull hard in the Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.
The Blue Catfish
The Blue Cat is truly an amazing fish. I have caught these fish as deep as 96 feet at the bottom of a river channel in cold water conditions. I have also seen them come right up to the top and smash a school of shad just as a Striper or White Bass would do in warm water conditions. As far as I can tell, these fish feed aggressive all year, which in my opinion sets them apart from Flatheads and Channel Cats
Reports of Blues falling for lead spoons, jigs, crank baits, and many other artificial lures are not uncommon any time of the year. The other Blue Cat bonus is their size, growing much larger than Channel Cats and a smidge larger than Flatheads. That makes your chances of catching a Blue Cat over 20 pounds a big time reality. Fish over 50 pounds are not that hard to find in reservoirs and rivers that have had time to produce that size of Catfish. These fish grow to be over 100 pounds - it's the exception and not the rule, but it does happen. That's the beauty in setting up and fishing for Blue Cats: your next fish might be 1 pound, 51 pounds, or 101 pounds.
Make sure to read Part 2 and 3 of this article to learn about Capt. Jeff's non-typical techniques!
Copyright © 2002-2005 Jeff Williams
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