Crankbait catfish

Growing up in a Tom Sawyer-like existence, it was only natural that Larry Woodward would become a catfishermen.  Woodward, a veteran angler, guide and television host, has lived on the Mississippi River all his life.  He loves those whiskered wonders that prowl the big muddy.  Sometime back we sat down at a dinner and he explained how to catch catfish on a crankbait.

It is probably no surprise that Woodward would pioneer a new technique for catching cats with crankbaits.

Woodward states that his technique works best from the first part of May to the first part of August in most years.  He is quick to state that the water conditions need to be right.  Those conditions are clear water and a slow flow.  “The slower the flow the better,” says Woodward.  “The water does not have to be super clear,” explains Woodward, “But, you need good water quality and slow current.”  It does not work in tailwater type conditions.

Larry believes his technique will work in lakes, rivers and ponds.  “It works anywhere there are rip rap banks next to deep water,” explains the cat master.

“I fish a couple different crankbaits,” says Woodward.  One is a Rebel Deep Teeny Wee-R and the other is the Rebel Deep Wee diving crayfish bait.  He likes the 3 inch bait with a dark brown or black back and a hot red or pink belly.  Other combinations of colors that work for Woodward are chartreuse/lime, chartreuse/orange, and brown/orange.  Larry is quick to add that when the fish are really biting, he thinks that it does not matter what color is on the lure.

By way of explanation Larry points out that he trolls crankbaits, rather than cast them, in order to keep the lure in the strike zone of the fish.  When retrieving a crankbait that has been cast, the lure strikes the bottom and then almost immediately begins returning to the surface as the retrieve continues.

Larry points out that looking along a shoreline, there is a lot of rock and rip rap to be covered.  In order to cover more of the bottom and to keep the lure in the strike zone, he began to troll them.

In trolling, he uses only his trolling motor turning his big motor toward the shore.  This kicks the bow out just the right amount to allow him to run three lines.  The trolling motor allows Woodward to move the boat slightly faster than the current to hold the lure bouncing along the rocks.

The guy in the front of the boat has a Deep Teeny crawfish crankbait with the front hooks removed and a #6 treble hook on the back.  The bait is built as a crappie lure but Woodward finds it is deadly on catfish as well as other species.

The second angler in the boat can run two other lines out with the earlier named crankbaits that also run deep.  With all the lines running about 50 yards behind the boat, it is possible to keep all three lines about a foot apart and on the bottom.

Woodward likes to run this pattern in eight to twelve feet of water, sometimes more shallow.

At one point he found that his lines were breaking off when he was fishing some waters. Much to his chagrin, he found that the rocks were covered with Zebra Mussels and the sharp edges of their shells were cutting his lines.  He experimented with several of the “super lines” with no success.  It was then that he turned to thirty-pound steel leader.  He uses about a one foot length as a leader and that has greatly reduced his loss of lures due to the mussels.

If the conditions are right on a given day, this pattern will produce non-stop action according to Woodward.  It works pre-spawn, post spawn, and during the spawn, on all three species of cats to be found in the big river.  He also says that it will also catch other species.  Larry’s best day with this pattern produced 17 different species.  His largest catfish taken with this pattern was a thirty pound flathead.

Although Woodward uses his crankbait pattern most on the Mississippi, he has used it in lakes and many smaller rivers from Missouri to the Canada border.



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