Where are the Catfish?

I never have been big into catfish, I just haven’t the patience to sit for long periods staring at a pole. Sure you have to move around alot but you’re still just sitting there watching poles. I would rather drift and get photos of birds, it’s much faster paced and keeps the mind busy. I mean what do guys even think about when waiting for a bite for long periods, about a fish? Another reason I couldn’t get into catfishing is because they aren’t like walleye and Bass, they are pretty simple with fish being everywhere, it’s just a matter of finding the biggest fish which can require even more patience and more moving around.

When I think about it where catfish are, I think where they aren’t. They are shallow, they are deep. They are in strong current, they are in slack water. They are behind rocks, behind log jams. They are in holes, ledges, drop offs, current breaks, weed lines, lakes, main river, sloughs, creeks, you name it and there is catfish there. You can just go out in the middle of the river and start catching catfish. That’s why not many care about secret spots, you can just go anywhere and catch fish. It’s when you find big fish that you might worry about people seeing you and cleaning your spots out, especially before a tournament.

Then there’s the bait. What don’t catfish eat? They will eat rotted chicken livers, rotted cheesebait with maggots in it, they will eat about anything dead or alive. They eat minnows, shad, birds, anything they can find.

I do know somethings because I do catch catfish by accident while walleye fishing and I have catfished some in the past. I know they cruise weedlines at night and disapear in the day. They sit in deep holes and come out and cruise shallows at night. They like dams and fast current during the day, they like to sit in deeper sloughs during the day, sit in deeper holes in the day. You can get them to bite if you offer the right bait and put it in front of their face. Or if a storm happens to move through, the bite is on better than night fishing.

Like with any fish, once you find a pattern for big fish it usually works in the future under the same circumstances. Unless someone else already cleaned the spot out that is. Most spots never get fished, because they can lay about anywhere in the day out in the middle of the river in deeper water. I have seen them in clean water in the winter, just sitting on the bottom in current and not even moving their tail because they cut the water so well.

I guess about the only places you don’t find catfish is where other fish congregate and there is too much competition. Sometimes I catch catfish while walleye fishing but actually it is rare. Walleye like structure and catfish really don’t care. Catfish like wood and walleye don’t use it so much. But then you can also find walleye about anywhere and most people don’t even fish the best spots because they haven’t seen anyone else fish it. I have seen the dnr shock big walleye in places no one fishes. Even after seeing this I don’t fish it because it’s a flat or something without structure. I catch a lot of big walleye and most of the time it’s in a spot I don’t even fish again. I was just passing through and caught it as a fluke and without much structure there is no need to go back. That’s the way catfish are too, they move around and many of the biggest fish are flukes. You just go fishing and hope for the best.

About Dave Tackett

Dave Tackett is from Sterling Illinois. An avid fisherman since childhood, he has fished all over the Midwest, mainly the Mississippi River pools 8-19. His home waters are pools 13 & 14. After fishing Bass tournaments for many years, he gave it up to fish for Walleye year round. He now guides and fishes for fun. He likes to take photos of the scenic places he visits on the river and likes to keep a video camera running to get footage for his Walleye DVDs. Photography is now where he most of his time working, using professional DSLR cameras and lens. These photos include landscape around the Mississippi River and the Rock River, river birds like eagles heron, egrets etc.
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