John's Journal...

How to Catch More Hot-Weather Catfish

Day 5: Understand Catfish Haunts and the Best Baits to Use

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

Click for Larger ViewSince catfish migrate, they’ll be found in different areas of lakes and rivers at various times of the year. Knowing how, when and where the majority of catfish migrate in a given body of water can be critical information to the angler in search of a catfish dinner. An angler can obtain this information either by talking with area fishermen or by speaking with state fisheries biologists, who are usually eager to share their knowledge about the catfishing areas they supervise. Once you’ve learned the catfish’s migration pattern in a particular water, you can begin to look for these catfish on depth finders in those regions. Try fishing several different depths of water. Click for Larger ViewMany times catfish will follow the same migrating routes that bass, crappie and other fish travel. Catfish, too, may swim-along old creek and river channels, until they arrive at their destinations. They frequently will move along the edges of these channels on or just-above the bottom. If you are in the path of the catfish’s migration, you usually can locate the fish quickly and should begin to catch fish in 15 to 30 minutes. Another way to find catfish that are traveling along the bottom is to locate the food sources they normally will feed-on at certain times of the year. For instance, in certain parts of the country, there will be periodic die-offs of Asiatic clams. When these clams begin to die, their shells open, and the little animals inside will float-up from the bottom. At that time, catfish will move into this area to feed on these clams. Local fishermen know that when they begin to see clams floating on the water’s surface, there should be some catfish on the bottoms of that same region.

Using Baits to Catch Catfish:

Catfish baits are many and varied, and most of the best anglers I know have secret baits or formulas for taking catfish. However, there is one common denominator in almost all effective catfish baits. They give off odor which attracts catfish. All North American species of catfish have long feelers or barbells (whiskers) on their faces. These barbels enable catfish to locate food, because a catfish tastes with its feelers as well as with its entire body. Click for Larger ViewA catfish has more than 100,000-food sensors located all over its body, with the largest number in its whiskers. A catfish finds food by fanning the bottom with its barbels, and homing in on vibrations as well as good scents. Some catfish, particularly channel catfish, are sight feeders too. Several other factors also affect when and what catfish eat. Although catfish will feed on almost anything, the male doesn’t eat, while holding eggs in his mouth after they are laid. The temperature of the water also governs how actively catfish feed, because the enzyme action in a catfish’s stomach doubles with each 8-degree increase in water temperature. Subsequently, the hotter the weather becomes, the more catfish feed. And, since most catfish prefer a dark habitat, they eat mostly at night during hot, sunny weather.

I have a fishing buddy who buys the cheapest hog dogs available on sale, cuts them into chunks, puts them in a fruit jar and soaks them in a commercial catfish preparation overnight. The next day, he baits-up with these saturated wieners and catches plenty of cats. Some fishermen squirt a catfish attractant on their cut shad, shad gut, worms, crickets, crawfish, etc. Several of my friends utilize Ivory soap during the wintertime for catfish bait, while others put out Limburger cheese. Click for Larger ViewBut smelly baits are not the only food a catfish will strike. Crawfish, minnows, grasshoppers and hellgrammites also will catch catfish in many regions of the country. Most of the time, the best information on which catfish baits work best comes from local dock or marina operators. For some reason, catfish in certain areas seem to prefer various baits at different times of the year. So, to find the most-successful bait, talk with the marina operator at the water where you fish. They want you to catch fish and will be willing to share their knowledge with you. Fishing for cats is fun. Mr. Whiskers can bend your rod, stretch your string, and provide a good fight as well as great fare for the table. These secrets I have learned from catfishing’s best anglers now are yours too.

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 5