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Masters' Secrets of Catfishing

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Watermelon, iced tea, suntan lotion, sunglasses and fishing for catfish are my first thoughts when the sun climbs high in the sky, and the mercury heads for the 100-degree mark. Many anglers believe all you have to do to catch catfish in the summer is throw a stink bait out on the bottom of any river.

But to consistently catch more cats on every outing, you need to know where the fish are most likely to occur, what they're most likely to eat in these spots, and what conditions cause them to feed most actively. Catfish like to eat almost anything. Your best bet for catching catfish probably will be to determine what baits are natural to the river you're fishing and fish them first. Check with local anglers and sporting goods stores to learn what catfish are biting in the region at that time of the year.

Several other factors affect when and what catfish eat. The temperature of the water governs how actively catfish feed, because the enzyme action in a catfish's stomach doubles with each 8-degree increase in water temperature. The hotter the weather becomes, the more catfish feed. Since most catfish prefer a dark habitat, they eat mostly at night during the hottest, sunniest weather.


Some of the most overlooked, highly-productive areas to catch plenty of catfish are in the thousands of small streams and little rivers throughout the nation. You'll often find these streams close to home or within easy driving distance. Some of these waters may be no more than 20-yards wide. The state fisheries section of your department of conservation usually can tell you the location of small streams and little rivers that may hold cats.

You can pinpoint catfish hotspots -- like a current break -- from the banks of these small waters. Several years ago on a family camping trip near our home, I took my two young children, Kate and John, fishing along the small stream we were camping near. As we walked along the bank, I spotted a large boulder about 10 feet from the bank that broke the current and formed an eddy pool on the down-current side. I cast a live redworm out to the eddy pool and instantly hooked a catfish.

For 1-1/2-hours, we continued to catch catfish from that one eddy hole behind the boulders. As we moved downstream, we fished behind logs, rocks and any current break we could find and caught plenty of cats all day long.

Another successful technique for fishing small waters is to float them in a canoe or a flat-bottomed johnboat equipped with a depthfinder. Use the depthfinder to locate sharp bottom breaks and underwater boulders. Once you've pinpointed these places, anchor upstream, and let your bait wash into these regions where cats normally hold. These underwater cat hotspots often go virtually unfished and generally hold plenty of cats for the catching.

Masters' Secrets of Catfishing is $13.50

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