Probably the most basic type of angling in the Midwest is bank fishing for catfish.  Most people have done it at one time or another and some are returning to it now.  It is a peaceful and rewarding experience.  Gone are daily stresses and one can catch a meal for the family.

Lake Sangchris is a 2,165 acre power plant lake in Christian County, IL about 14 miles southeast of Springfield.  It is a year around catfishing location.  The warmer water contributes to a longer growing season.

An abundance of threadfin shad probably contribute to the excellent growth that the catfish enjoy.  Coupled with the warm water conditions, the small fish assist the catfish to attain nice size.

Bank fishing comes in a number of areas along the 100-miles of shoreline.   Cast toward islands and stumps.  If hung up, the next time you just cast short of that point.  On windy days, the wave action causes the mud to churn up downwind near the shore.  The action stirs up crayfish and insects upon which the catfish will feed.  Cast into that water.

Anglers often fish for those large channel catfish after work on warm summer days.  Reports are that the average size of cats is 8-to 14-pounds.  Some of the larger fish can run up to 37 pounds.

One must fish hard and move around a lot. Knowing where the stumps are is necessary for the larger fish.

Catfish move up to shallower water in the summer to feed at night.  During the day they are in the deeper water but as the evening comes on and the water cools, they move into the flats to feed.  In the morning they will stay under lily pads in the shade until the water warms.  Then they are back to the holes.

For tackle a dip worm with a hollow core and holes to allow the bait to seep out is best for the channel catfish.  Substitute a #4 hook for the #6 that usually comes with it.  Check the points of the treble hooks by sliding your fingers down the worm.  You should be able to feel all three hooks the same.  Sometimes one of the hooks protrudes more than the others.  Just adjust it with a pair of pliers.

At the end of you main line, place a swivel with a one ounce sliding weight above it.  A plastic bead between the swivel and the weight protects the knot where the line and swivel come together.  Below the swivel attach the worm rig.  The worms usually come with a leader of 18- to 22-inches, thus holding the weights that far or more above the bait.

Because the worms come pre-rigged, you can disconnect the worm rig at the swivel and attach another one in minutes. This is helpful when a cat has taken the lure deep and time is required to get him unhooked.  While you are working to get the hook out, the line with a new rig can be out in the water tempting another fish.

Clear blue line from Berkely in the 25 pound test is a popular choice.

Choose a rod that will handle at least a 2 ounce lure.  The ones rated from 3/4 ounce to 3-ounces are best.  The combination of the bait and sinker requires the heavier rod.  For reels, I prefer spinning reels.  They too must be larger and heavier to handle the long cast of a heavy bait.

Generally, loosen the drag on the reel so that the lure falls quickly when released.  In windy conditions tighten the reel so that the lure falls more slowly.  This procedure will help to avoid birds’ nests.

Cast as far out into the lake as possible, as much as 100-yards.  Then check your watch for the time.  Hold onto the rod securely and wait for 15 minutes.  If there is no bite in that time, retrieve the bait and clean it off.  After drying the worm with a towel, re-bait and cast again.

Repeat the process three times.  If you get no bite move to another location and begin once more.  Keep trying.

When first approaching an area look for shady spots where you can enjoy yourself and have an anchor for your pole.  It should be open enough so that you can cast well out into the water.

In still water, use a large float.  The ones in the class called “cigar floats.  First probe the bottom area of a hole.  If the fish are not biting there, put a float on and fish in the upper water of the same hole until you find the right depth for the fish.  Fish are either on the bottom or just about a foot below the surface.

The secret to catfishing on Sangchris Lake is to cast, watch the clock, and move if no fish are present. Sooner or later, one will find fish.


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  1. I’ve done cat fishing there myself.

  2. Great lake for us ground pounders in search of good catfish action.

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