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How to Catch Catfish

by: Evan Baitman

How to Catch Catfish picture

Several ways to catch catfish are discussed in this article. One of the better catfish for eating and fighting is the freshwater channel cat. They get over 40 lbs and have a muscular body made for life in the strong current. They congregate in areas having fast moving water and deep water channels. The best rig to catch channel cats is heavy sinker with some kind of smelly bait. They will readily take cut bait, shrimp, earthworms, and premade stinkbaits.

Catfish master Kent has a great method for catching giant catfish. The monster channel cats in the photos were caught last Saturday by Kent and his son Matthew. They caught 10 giant channel cats and took home over 60 lbs of good table meat. Kent and Matthew were fishing in the Dunne's creek area, which is one of the deep water creeks with fast current connected to the St. Johns River. This area is perfect for big catfish. Some other great catfish areas reachable from the St. Johns river are the Oklawaha River, the “croaker hole” near Welatka, and the deep holes around the Palatka Memorial Bridge.

Just about any live or dead bait will work for freshwater catfishing. Many fisherman have their own special gravy or “stink baits” concocted to put maximum scent in the water. Catfish are scavengers but will take live meals when they are can. Channel cats are occasionally able to catch up to shiners and live mullet on the hook, but it is more common to catch them on cut bait, live worms, and stink baits. My favorite bait for catfish is leftover bait shrimp from surf fishing.

Another commonly fished catfish is the saltwater sail cat. Many anglers consider them a nuisance when they steal expensive baits like live shrimp or mullet, but they are a welcome catch when gamefish aren't biting. Bottom rigs with dead shrimp are the ideal configuration for sail cats. These catfish can be caught in the surf and in the inter-coastal waterway.

There are over 430 known catfish species, and a project to document and discover even more species is discussed in the All Catfish Inventory. Many catfish have barbed and poisoned spines on the side and top. Catfish should be handled with care when de-hooking and releasing. Smaller catfish are especially difficult to de-hook without hurting the fish or the fisherman. Young children should not handle catfish until they are shown the proper way to handle them. The best way to handle catfish is to grip the fishes body with the hand behind the two side spikes. If holding the fish from the top, the hand should be behind the top spike also. The idea is to place your hand firmly against the base of the spikes so that the points are secured in a position where they cannot spear the hand when the fish wiggles.

FishObserver Best Practice: Never enter water where there could be a large alligator.

Noodleing

Noodling requires entering the water and harvesting catfish by hand from inside of submerged logs. FishObserver.com does not recommend this method of fishing, however many fisherman in the south use this method to harvest large flathead catfish. The noodler finds a submerged log that could be a catfish hideout, then the fingers are inserted blindly into the log to feel around for catfish. The catfish is grabbed by the mouth of possible, and drug up to the surface. A skilled noodler can harvest a dozen large catfish this way in under an hour, so long as he doesn't loose any fingers or get speared by a catfish barb. Sometimes other wild creatures are in the log, such as cottonmouth snakes and snapping turtles.

How to Catch Catfish photo How to Catch Catfish photo

 

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