Hooked on Whiskerfish

Dear sir, I love catfishing year round, this year has been different ’cause I hav’nt caught any bragable cats. It’s warm season here in north al. Guntersville. I’ve tried differnt types, sizes, shapes, using my homegrown redworms and chicken liver. Seems all I’m doing is feeding them. Have no trouble getting hits in 5 minutes or less after in water, the most is setting the hook. Also been trying different lenths leaders from 20-12-6″ with 1/2oz weights. Even tried slipweights, still can’t and it’s gotta be something I’m doing wrong. Depth water is 10-20′ deep in mostly river bends. Wandering if you could give me some tips. thank you very much for your time, David

Without knowing what type of rig you are using, I can only give you generalities. First, as in any fishing (or hunting for that matter), the best single thing you can do is learn all you can about your quarry. In this case, we are most likely talking about Channel Catfish, since you mentioned chicken livers and worms as bait. Blues and Flatheads seldom hit those baits. Knowing that, it is possible that you are getting hits from smaller members of these species. The solution to that is to switch to live minnows, shad, and cut-bait. If they are Blues, or Flatheads, this will make them more aggressive in taking your bait. If you are sure they are Channel Cats, then you may need to switch to a smaller hook size. Channel Catfish can be weird when they bite. Many times, they will pick up a bait, and move forwards with it, while crushing it in their jaws. This will not give you much warning that they have taken your bait, with the only outward sign being a slight slackening of the line. Many times, they will ‘spit’ the bait out as they turn to move away,, causing a a sharp tap on your rod tip. If you are only getting a tap or two, then nothing, this is what is happenning. When you set the hook, the fish is already gone. A catfish may return to the bait and do this several times before actually moving off with the bait in it’s mouth. You just have to be patient, and wait until the fish runs with the bait. This is why baitcasting reels, and slip sinker rigs are usually the most productive. Set your bait on the bottom with a smaller hook, baited with a minnow, liver wrapped in panty hose, or cut shad, on a slip sinker rig. Leave the bail open and the ‘click’ on. Don’t set the hook until the catfish is running with the bait, and setting the ‘clicker’ off. Then, stick it to ’em. I think this will help you start putting some fillets in the freezer. Happy Fishing!

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