John's Journal...

How to Catch More Hot-Weather Catfish

Day 3: Catching Small Stream Catfish and Understanding the Importance of Depth with the Late Carl Lowrance

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

Finding Small-Stream Cats:

Click for Larger ViewThe good news about angling for catfish is that you don’t have to own a large boat or fish major lakes and rivers to catch them. Some of the finest catfishing available may be found on small streams and little waterways. Some years ago, my children and I were bank fishing, catching the usual small bream and little bass in a small stream not far from home. As we walked-down the bank, I noticed a large boulder breaking the current about 15-yards from shore. Using ultralight tackle and small bream hooks, we cast to the dead-water area behind the boulder. Instantly we started catching catfish on nightcrawlers and red worms. After taking a half-dozen cats from this spot, we moved-on downstream and discovered another boulder breaking the current. Click for Larger ViewOnce again we took catfish that were holding up in the slack-water regions, like behind a current break, should always draw a cast or two. Another type of bottom structure that has proven to be a cat-catching spot in streams is below a shoaling area where the creek bottom drops off 3 or 4 feet into slack water. Baitfish and food caught in the current often will pass over these underwater ledges and fall into the slack-water holes in the bottom. And, Mr. Whiskers is like most other creatures; if he can find an easy way to make a living, that is exactly what he is going to do. Usually the catfish will lie in these bottom breaks or underwater drop-offs and wait for the food to come washing-into where they’re hanging. Utilizing a portable LCR unit allows an angler to float small streams and search for these bottom breaks. By casting upstream with worms, crawfish, crickets, commercially prepared catfish food, or other types of bait, a fisherman can let his line wash along the bottom. When the line falls into one of these holes, the catfish readily will hit the bait.

Knowing the Depth Is a Key to Successfully Catfishing:

Click for Larger ViewAlthough there are plenty of catfish in bodies of water with current, many large lakes, rivers and reservoirs also have numerous catfish in them. However, these catfish may be harder to find, because the area to search for them is so vast. Years ago, one angler solved the problem of locating catfish on major reservoirs by using a sonar unit to look underwater for fish. When he couldn’t identify what was on his sonar screen, he would send his two young sons over the side in scuba gear to swim-down and see what the sonar was reporting. Click for Larger ViewThe boys were able to tell their dad whether they saw schools of bass, catfish, shad or whatever the sonar was reporting. These early experiments not only enabled the late Carl Lowrance of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to develop and build Lowrance Electronics, today a prominent depth finder company, but also showed him how to find free-roaming schools of catfish. “I particularly like to jug-fish for cats,” Lowrance once told me. “To catch catfish, you must know at what depth they’re holding. By using my depth finder, I drive-around the open areas of the lake and locate schools of catfish swimming in mid-water. If I discover catfish in 10 feet of water, I’ll position myself 10- or 15-yards above the fish, determine which way the wind’s blowing, set the lines on jigs for 10 feet and let the wind carry the jugs into school of catfish. I only put-out one or two jugs at this time, just to make sure that the fish on the recorder are catfish. If the jugs begin to bounce as the cats attack, I’ll set-out the rest of my jugs and catch all the catfish I want. Although finding catfish is important, knowing at what depth the fish are holding is also important. “When you stop getting bites, being able to relocate the school with a depth finder makes cat-catching much easier.” If you live in a state where jug fishing for cats isn’t permitted, this same tactic-using a cork on your line to suspend the bait above the cats-will produce fish.

Tomorrow: Know Catfish and Use the Correct Equipment and Tactics for Successful Fishing

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 3