May is the hottest month of the year for those of us fishing for Mr. Forked Tail in the PrairieState.

 Fishing for Channel Catfish is the most basic of angling pursuit available to anglers of thePrairie State.  It can be a simple as a hooked worm on a line attached to a stick, or as sophisticated as spinning gear a space-age composite rod and crankbaits.  It is, at once, the choice of those who spend a lot of money and those that do not.  The one thing both have in common is that they must find the fish. 

It seems that everything about catfish patterns relate to their search for food.  They eat almost everything in their environment.  By using slack water ambush points they conserve energy until some food comes their way.  They relate to brush, cutback banks, and rip rap for their spawning activity and to find food sources. 

Anglers often fish for channel catfish using natural baits like: cut shad, cut herring, night crawlers, minnows, shrimp, chicken liver and turkey liver.  In other times of the year, prepared baits (stink or dip baits) are popular.  In early summer, they do not produce as well. 

This time of the year catfish feed actively and also will attack anything that invades their territory as they spawn and guard the nest and young of the year. 

Look for structure. During the day fish seek deep water away from shore.  As the water cools, they move to the flats and to shallow water structure. 

In areas that were once part of the main channel fish the structure that is closest to the flow of the current.  In backwaters, look for the current to boil.  Anchor above the boil and cast to it.  The fish will be tight up against the structure. 

On rivers with wing dams fish the outside of the eddy at the end of a wing dam.  Fish like the wing dams because there is less current for them to fight.  Dams that have been silted in are less productive due to the catfish’s love of clean hard bottoms.  A damaged wing dam can create two current breaks, one at the end and one where the break has occurred. 

If fishing lakes or reservoirs fish tend prefer the old main channel as it brings food to them.  Look for structure in current areas.  By looking at the shoreline one can often find old roadways that lead right down into the water.  In the water, the rocks and blacktop of the old roadway provide structure.  Additionally roadbeds lead to old farmsteads.  Farmsteads mean old building foundations and more structure. 

Depth finders are good for locating structure.  Catfish like clean bottom and structure like rock and hard surfaces.  In looking at wood structure, remember that catfish want current. While fishing in the current look for wood, usually in the form of trees.  The bigger the tree the more fish will hold near it.  Smaller fish feed on the outside of the tree.  Larger fish will be down in the lower branches of the tree. 

Big cats are in deep brush or an exposed root system at the base of large trees.  Just move the boat up into the brush and jig the bait down to them.  Go after them and yank ‘em out.  It is important to position the boat so you can get the fish out of the brush without getting hung up. 

These tips may be what you need to haul in that big one this year.


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  1. The hot summer months provide many of the best catfishing opportunities simply because large numbers of catfish can be caught so many different ways, from fishing vertically or drifting with rod and reel to setting trotlines, limblines or juglines to fly-fishing with grasshoppers.

  2. When catfish fishing you should always have a variety of sizes in your tackle box so that you can adapt to the catfish that you catching.

  3. Pingback: Catfish | Pakistan Fishing

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