Summer catfishing fun to put filets in the freezer

Catfish are one of the most prevalent game fish in the Midwest. They’re also fun and easy to catch, and great to eat. Lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, and streams all hold cats. Chances are, if there is a body water near you, it holds catfish. Anglers can pursue catfish from a boat, but there are countless opportunities to pursue them from public shores. Catfishing is quite universal. 

There are plenty of favorite baits out there for catfishing, but for big catfish, you should plan to use either live or dead baitfish.  Flatheads, which many regard as the best tasting catfish, prefer to eat live fish. Blue catfish, which grow the largest, are usually targeted with cut bait. Shad is often used, and the smellier it is the better. Most bait shops have plenty of catfish offerings.

Catfishing is an easy deal. You don’t need much. A rod, reel, line, hook, sinker, and bait. Since you’re targeting larger fish, you need a medium or heavy action rod and a reel with a strong drag. You want your rod to have a sensitive tip, so you can feel subtle bites. Your line should be at least 10-pound test, because even if you’re targeting smaller catfish, a lunker could always strike. 

Since catfish cruise for food, a favorite tactic for catching them is to cast an offering from the bank, then let it settle on the bottom. Catfish eat a variety of food, including nightcrawlers, bait fish, shrimp, liver, and more. Scent is an important aspect of catfishing because these fish rely heavily on their powerful sense of smell to locate food. They often hang near drop-offs and deep holes, so fishing near a bridge is one favorite method of locating cats from shore.

Most of the time, you are fishing on the bottom for cats. The weight of your sinker is determined by the current. The faster it is the heavier your sinker needs to be. In big rivers a three-ounce sinker is a common choice. In a lake or pond where there is no current, you can just use some split shot. Hooks need to be big and strong enough for big fish. A 3/0 hook is a good all-around catfish hook. 

Although catfish are readily available and prevalent in good numbers, we must understand they are not an endless resource. Good conservation practices and the wise use of our natural resources ensures future success of a species. Numerous states, including Indiana and Missouri have slot limits to help protect older, larger fish. Larger catfish have higher reproductive potential and can better help control populations of forage species such as gizzard shad and Asian carp. So, consider letting the big ones live and keeping a bunch of “eaters” for your fish fries. 

It’s hard to find a rural restaurant worth dining at that doesn’t offer fried catfish with a side of slaw. From youngsters sitting on the end of the dock watching a big red and white bobber, to hardcore big river catfishing experts, “whisker fish” are a fishing favorite. 

Now is a great time to catch catfish. They spawn in June along shorelines. Providing great opportunities for anglers fishing from shore to experience fast action. A lot of $10 catfish sandwiches are sold across this country. You can easily put plenty of catfish filets in your freezer and cook them at home. They are easy and fun to catch. If you have ever landed a hard fighting catfish, then you know how exciting these magnificent fish are to catch. Their value as a game fish is immeasurable.

See you down the trail…
Brandon Butler

Pic: Catfish are one of the most prevalent game fish in the Midwest and one of the best table fare fish anywhere. 

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