Archive for the ‘Hoggers’ Tag


DSCN4255Located six hours downstate from Chicago and 2 hours east of St. Louis on Interstate 57, Rend Lake is 18,900-acres of fishable water with 162 miles of rugged shoreline.  The latter is of interest to catfishermen and in particular “Hoggers.”

Reaching into an underwater den and pulling a big flathead catfish out by the lower jaw is probably a rude surprise for the catfish.  It is great fun for the angler.

The origin of the sport is lost in antiquity.  It most likely was the invention of some hapless angler needing food and without any other means of catching fish.

Known locally as hoggin, it also is referred to as under banking.  Practiced throughout the Mississippi river drainage, in some areas it is also known as noodling or grabbing.

Flathead catfish inhabit mostly larger waters such as lakes, reservoirs and major rivers.  Different from other subspecies of North American catfish they have a wide flat skull with prominent eyes set high on the top.

Flatheads have a square tail and their overall color is brown with a white tip of the upper lobe of the tail.  Illinois flatheads generally are 15 to 35 pounds with some exceptional ones up to 50 pounds.  However the state record is 78 pounds.

Although catfish hide in dens at almost any time of the year, the prime time tends to be in spring as water warms into the 65 to 75 degree range.

Most dens have two or more entrances.  Some dens can go back under the shore or other structure six to eight feet.  In Rend Lake they may be under old foundations, slabs of concrete, old roadways, rip rap, piles of rock or concrete dumped in the lake at the time of construction.

Hoggers find an active den by sliding a foot along the bottom in search of an area clean of mud or debris.  For deeper dens in water chest deep they may have to dive down.  These dens are usually the least pressured and most productive.  The best months for hoggin are June and July.

Hoggin is not for the feint-hearted and is not for the lone angler.  Guide services such as Rend Lake Crappie Masters ( and Crappie Predator ( specialize in hoggin at Rend Lake.  It is an adventurous part of our fishing heritage worthy of conserving for the future.


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