Crankbait catfish

Carefully picking his way through the rock strewn tailwaters, the angler casts a 1/8 ounce jig up under the dam. Almost immediately the line heads for deeper water. Carefully the angler retrieves a 2 pound catfish. Catfish on artificial lures?

Both flathead and channel catfish will take artificial lures instead of bait. Beginning in late summer as the water temperature gets into the 80’s and low 90’s channel catfish will move to the shallow water up tight against dams. The flatheads will move to the deep holes. In both of these areas, catfish will take an artificial lure.

Some experienced catfishermen use bass fishing techniques to catch flatheads. Each September they begin by trolling with a trolling motor on a Jon boat. They troll over deep holes. Most are in the 30 foot depth. Electronics tell them there are fish in the bottoms of the holes. Experience teaches that they are flatheads about to go on a fall feeding spree.

They look for structure in the holes. Submerged trees, rock structure or any other kind of “home habitat” that flatheads are known to frequent.

The idea is to bounce jigs right on their nose. They use a 2-ounce jig with a salt craw attached. In order for the fish to take it, they maintain that the jig has to be right on top of the fish. Not being a bottom feeder by nature, the flatheads eyes are located to find food slightly above it.

Late summer also means low water conditions on most rivers. Cats, be they flathead or channel, seem to seek out deep water, fast running well oxygenated water, or both. Beneath most dams are deep holes created by the water cascading from one level to another.

Anglers have long known to cast up under a dam to catch fish. However, few try it with a small jig. A 1/8 ounce leadhead with a dark plastic grub body will do a good job enticing channel catfish.

Over on the Ohio River flowage, some anglers use crankbaits to catch fall cats. They get their boats right up in the shallow water at the dam and then cast floating Rapalas. The #13 and #18 are most used. Blue is the preferred color.  They use the current to provide action to the lure.


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