Hot weather means hot catfishing

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Most any time of the year you can catch catfish in Missouri, but many catfishing anglers go after catfish big time around the Fourth of July. Some cat fishermen go jugging, others set trotlines, fish at night or just hit the water whenever they can.

My dad was a crappie and catfisherman, in the spring and fall he was after crappie, but in the summertime, he was after the whiskered fish, usually from the bank of a nearby stream. He never owned a rod and reel, he used a cane pole with a bobber and hook loaded with some kind of smelly bait. Results were what counted and he usually came home with catfish.

Dad walked the bank with the current, to get close to a brush pile where he could lure a catfish out to take the bait. Many times I watched as the bait would get close to a root wad and see the cane pole arch out as he set the hook. After he worked the fish away from the root wad and into the open water, the fish would make several runs before it tired and came into dad’s hands then put on a stringer before he started after another fish.

Cane pole fishing for catfish is simple, too simple for some modern-day anglers, but for those who are willing to swallow their pride they can have success using a cane pole for catfish.

Instead of just throwing out a line and wait for a catfish to come to them, cane pole fishing allows the angler to speed up the action and place the bait in front of nearly every catfish in the stream.

My dad used a 12-foot pole to keep him a little distance from a fish. It was rigged with braided line, usually 80-pound test. He used treble hooks that guarantee a good hook set. The hooks were snagless because the bait covered the treble hook. His line had a couple split shot sinkers above the bait.

Catfish, especially channel cats, will go after most any bait, from minnows to stinkbait. I have caught many channels by using grasshoppers that were available at this time of the year. That way you can collect bait as you fish from the bank.

When fishing from the shore you need to look for some kind of structure where catfish lurk. When looking for the best spot to drop your bait, remember the flow will carry your bait so keep it close to the structure without getting into a root wad. Catfish know that these places hold small sunfish so they go there for a meal.

Most all Missouri waters hold catfish from ponds to streams to the large impoundments. One of the streams that has a reputation for catfishing is the Grand River north of the Missouri River. I have fished there many times and taken a lot of channel cats. It also has a lot of mosquitoes. Using crawfish, I have taken many limits from that stream near Bosworth. Another river that has a reputation for big catfish is the Osage where many big flathead and blue catfish have been caught.

Early in my fishing days, my favorite catfish was a yellow bullhead There was a small lake close to home where I could always catch enough bullheads for a family meal. That is when I learned catfish have needle-sharp fin spines that they hold erect when threatened. Should you get “horned” by one you soon know what an unpleasant experience that can be. Those bullheads also have jaws that can clamp down on fingers.

From channel cats to flatheads, blue and bullheads now is a good time to fish for catfish. The fishing can be as hot as the weather.

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