Wabash River Catfish

Wabash River catfishermen find a magnificent gladiator which will challenge the skills of the best angler.  The placid face of the river conceals a fishery unmatched in other area streams save the Ohio River.  When a bobber disappears beneath the surface only to reappear for a second or two there is one of two fish ready to do battle.

The Wabash flows some 200 miles between Indiana and Illinois along the southeast border of Illinois.  Old broken dams, rocks and riffle areas offer excellent fishing for catfish.  The water is accessible from ramps on either the Illinois or Indiana side. Annual surveys by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and creels checks have long shown a healthy population of blue, flathead and channel catfish.

Les Frankland, IDNR fisheries biologist, speaks of the river and the fishing with a spark that betrays his love of the river.  He reports, “The entire section of the river along the Illinois border contains water where anglers can drift in search of holes and other structure.”

By allowing baits such as chicken livers, worms, etc. to drift into the holes and other structure from upstream, the fish are enticed to bite.  In many areas, anglers can wade and cast into the submerged wood in the water.

Frankland recommends the old dam and its shallows at Mt. Carmel, in Wabash County as an example.  He has taken as many as 40 channel catfish per hour while doing shocking surveys.  Old dams like the one at Mr. Carmel once harnessed the power of the Wabash River.  Today, the Wabash is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi.

The wide, flat bottomlands along the river are peaceful and fall away to the gently rolling hills in the distance.  Wisconsin glacial episode nearly 22,000 years ago is responsible for the formations.

Another good location is near Mauine, Illinois in White County.  Frankland points out that there “is a railroad bridge about 2 miles south of town with three islands.”  “Channel catfish can be found where the shallow water dips into a hole,” says the biologist.

At New Haven, in Gallatin County, there is a boat ramp on U.S. Route 141.  The water just above the boat ramp is good for channel catfish according to Les.  In performing his duties, Les has taken good numbers of fish from the holes in the river.  Downstream, there is an old dam and more good catfish habitat.

Surveys of the river held in recent years show good populations of flathead and channel catfish over 3 pounds through out the river.  Blue cats in the lower 50 miles of the river are in good numbers as well.  Anglers report taking trophy flathead and blue catfish over 50 pounds in weight.

The peace and tranquility of the Wabash River is deceptive to the catfish angler.  The quiet lulls one into thinking that nothing will disturb it.  Catfish may just change ones thinking about that scene.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: