Five tips on fishing for catfish

Tip number one is that Channel, and Blue Catfish are predominately omnivorous, locating their food by an incredibly developed sense of smell. They can detect odors in the water as dilute as 1 part per million. This is over 100 times more sensitive than a Bloodhounds nose. Yellow Cats, by contrast, only eat live fish, and rely more on sight, and sound. Anything that has a pronounced odor, and is organic will attract Blue and Channel Cats. Obviously, live-bait is best for Yellow cats, with live bluegills (where legal) being one of the best.

Tip number 2: Blue and Channel catfish have a weird way of biting at times. They have incredibly strong jaws, capable of crushing mussel shells with ease. Many times, they will pick up a bait, hold it into their mouths, then crush it, before moving off. So, if your line goes slack while still fishing, chances are good that a catfish has picked up the bait. Wait until the fish starts to move off with it before setting the hook. Otherwise you will pull it out of their mouth. Other times, they will mouth a bait and spit it out, only to pick it up again in a few minutes. This can drive anglers nuts. Your rod will bob several times, and stop as soon as you touch the rod. It is a cat-and mouse game that requires patience on your part. Sooner or later, the catfish will take the bait and move off with it.

Tip #3: Because of the information listed in Tip #2, one of the best rigs for fishing for Channel and Blue Cats is to rig a treble hook (or large single hook if using baitfish, or other live bait), on a dropper loop, with a Lindy-typestyle, curved sinker on the bottom. By keeping a tight line, you will know when a catfish has taken the bait, because when they pick up the bait and move forward with it, the sinker will fall forward, keeping a little bit of pressure on the line, so you can hook them without too much slack in the line.

Tip #4: You can lose a lot of hooks and sinkers fishing in the rocky bottoms below tailraces. Here’s a way to make this a little easier. Instead of rigging a slip, bell or lindy sinker on the bottom, simply pinch several split-shots to the end of the line, using as many as needed. When the bottom sinker gets hung in the rocks, it will just pull it off with moderate pressure, leaving the hook, and the rest of the sinkers intact so you can keep fishing.

Tip #5: For yellow cats, the best technique is to rig a trot, or jug line with a live bluegill. They are tough, and stay alive and active for a long time on a hook. This can tempt even the most apathetic Yellow cat, eventually.

Happy fishing.

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Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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