John's Journal...

How to Catch More Hot-Weather Catfish

Day 2: More Tailrace Tactics for Hot Weather Catfish

Editor’s Note: Here are ideas from the experts to help you catch more catfish this summer, no matter where you live.

Click for Larger ViewBesides hiding the hook in the bait and having an uncanny feel for the catfish’s bite (see Day1), longtime catfisherman Kyle Baggett had other secrets for successfully catfish-catching in a tailrace. Although 20 or 30 fishermen might be angling the swift water for catfish, there only would be one or two who actually took many fish, even though everyone was utilizing the same tackle in the exact-same areas. When I inquired why that was, Baggett answered, “Most fishermen don’t know how to locate the ‘grooves’ in a tailrace. The catfish hold and concentrate in these grooves.” According to Baggett, there are three-different types of grooves. “The first kind of groove is where two currents meet. When turbines are discharging, the area where those two discharges merge is the most-slack water in the tailrace. For example, if there are 10 turbines running, the water between each turbine will create a groove. Although these grooves are hard to spot from the surface, the catfish know where these grooves are and will hold on these specific areas to feed.

Click for Larger View“Another type of groove is when there are 10 turbines discharging, but perhaps two of the 10 turbines only are running at partial capacity. So, the grooves between these two-slower-running turbines will hold more catfish than the grooves between the faster running turbines. By drifting-down these grooves, and bumping the bottom with a natural catfish bait like shad entrails, you often can catch all the cats you want in a tailrace area.” The third kind of groove that Baggett fishes are those created by underwater rocks or boulders that break the current. “If you can locate an underwater rock that’s breaking the current, there will be slack water behind that rock,” Baggett said. “The catfish will hold in that slack water and feed there. The angler who bumps the bait back in this slack-water region can catch plenty of catfish. I’ve found that groove fishing is the most-productive technique for catching catfish in tailrace areas.”

Understanding Catfish:

Click for Larger ViewAlthough there are more than 1,000 kinds of catfish found around the world, 28 species live in the United States. The smallest is the least madtom, which averages 1 inch in length. The largest is the blue catfish, which can weigh up to 120 pounds. However, Captain William Heckman in his book, “Steamboating Sixty-Five Years on Missouri Rivers,” told of a 315-pound blue cat taken from the Missouri River just after the Civil War of the 1860s. But the world’s largest catfish reside in the European rivers east of the Rhine River, where specimens of greater than 400 pounds have been recorded. Huge catfish of similar size are also found in the Amazon Basin. Click for Larger ViewThe variety of states where these world-record catfish have been caught shows the wide distribution of this fish that anglers love to catch and eat. Most fishermen prefer channel, white, and blue catfish for eating, although the meat of the brown and black bullheads is also delicious. The yellow bullhead tastes okay, too, according to catfish connoisseurs, while the gafftopsail cat, a saltwater catfish, can be eaten, but usually isn’t. Since all catfish are scaleless (except for the armored catfish from South America, which has become established in some Florida waters) they are often called “no scales.” Other catfish nicknames include Mr. Whiskers (all species), creek cat (yellow bullhead and brown bullhead), river cat (channel catfish) and shovelhead catfish (flathead catfish).

Tomorrow: Catching Small Stream Catfish and Understanding the Importance of Depth with the Late Carl Lowrance

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Catch More Hot-Weather Catfish "

Day 1: Fishing Tailraces for Summertime Catfish
Day 2: More Tailrace Tactics for Hot Weather Catfish
Day 3: Catching Small Stream Catfish and Understanding the Importance of Depth with the Late Carl Lowrance
Day 4: Know Catfish and Use the Correct Equipment and Tactics for Successful Fishing
Day 5: Understand Catfish Haunts and the Best Baits to Use

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Entry 624, Day 2