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The Boatless Angler - Chapter 2 - Fishing for Spring Channel Catfish

When fishing for channels cats the best time for a boatless angler to hook into some monster fish is in early spring. When I say early spring, I mean a few weeks after the ice has moved out; it’s cold but it’s worth it! Fisherman often make the mistake of…

The Boatless Angler
Part 2: Fishing for Spring Channel Catfish

Where and When to go for Channel Catfish:

When fishing for channels cats the best time for a boatless angler to hook into some monster fish is in early spring. When I say early spring, I mean a few weeks after the ice has moved out; it’s cold but it’s worth it!

Fisherman often make the mistake of fishing near the mouth of a creek or a river where channel cats move into spawn. The mouth will produce fish, but they are often smaller catfish. To catch the monster catfish in early spring, start fishing far up into the creek further away from the mouth because the big catfish have moved up before ice out.

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Narrow stretches or areas where a feeder creek meet up with the main creek are going to be hot spots for huge channel cats as these areas usually provide deeper holes. The bigger catfish choose these deep holes as spawning areas.

A common misconception when fishing for catfish is that they prefer feeding at night or on an overcast day, in many cases this is true. When fishing early spring in ice cold water, catfish are most active when the sun is out where the water is slowly getting warmer. You want to cast near shore or in a relatively shallow area next to the deeper holes you’ve located, these fish during the day will be on these spots as the water will be slightly warmer and will also contain natural attractants such as dead fish that didn’t survive the winter. These shallow areas will hold huge feeding channel catfish, and you’ll have your bait waiting for them!

How to Fish for Channel Catfish:

The best line setup for channel catfish is a simple slip-sinker rig. The sinker is thread through the main line to your rod and the end of the line is attached to a swivel; this way your sinker is able to slide freely. Then tie a thick leader line (12-20 lbs test) to the swivel and attach a single large hook at the end (see figure below).

This slip-sinker rig keeps your bait at the bottom and allows you to control your hook set when you have a bite. For example, huge channel cats usually pick up your bait and keep moving with it, so with the slip sinker you are able to open your bail and give the fish slack without them dragging the sinker and becoming spooked. Once you are confident the catfish has your bait, close your bail, let the fish tighten the line, then set the hook nice and hard!

What to Fish with for Channel Catfish:

There are all kinds of catfish baits on the market, but the most successful bait when fishing early spring is fresh or frozen-fresh cut bait. Some anglers think the “stinkier your bait the better”, this is not true. A catfish is very pleased with a fresh piece of bait and more often bite bait that smells fresh rather than stinky. The best of baits are natural ones found in the water body you are fishing in.

What I do is catch some fish for bait, freeze them, then take a few out when I’m ready to go fishing. That way I can cut the size of bait I want to use or even place a whole fish on the hook as channel cats eat it up like candy.

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Bait placement on the hook is also very important as well. Try to keep the skin of your cut bait intact so you can pierce your hook though the skin preventing your bait from falling off or being stripped from the channel cats. If you decide to use large baits, you may consider threading your bait on the hook or using multiple hooks in single bait, but always pierce the skin.

Get out there and beach some giant catfish!

Antonio

PS: we also have a video about catfishing, you can watch it here: Video - Catfish Fishing - How to Catch Catfish from Shore




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