Blue Catfish

The big river is flooded right now. That means changes in the structure.  It does not mean the big blue catfish will not be still there when the river goes down.

Although catfish are at home the length of this river, the best variety and numbers seem to come from the section between Lock & Dam 22 to Cairo, according to former IDNR biologist Butch Atwood.

There are three separate pools in the river behind dams 24, 25 and 26. From Alton down to Cairo it is an open river.  This part of the river seems to attract all three species of catfish with good young of the year production.

Atwood reports that channels, flatheads and blues are all present. “The blue catfish world record came out of this stretch near the mouth of the Missouri River,” exclaims Atwood.  It was approximately 125 pounds.

Flatheads like the tailwaters below the Mel Price Lock and Dam at Alton.   There are wing dams along that stretch and the fish like the scour holes nearby.  First time anglers in this area can find locals who are fishing the same waters and willing to share information on patterns and tackle.  Atwood reports, “They are a pretty friendly lot as there are not too many of them.”

Cut bait, such as shad, is best for channels which are generally in the 5 to 10 pound class. Occasional fish up to 50 pounds come from the open river.  The blues like skipjack herring heads.  There is a good population of skipjack in the open part of the river.



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