River Fishing For Catfish

By: Daniel Eggertsen

Of all of the places one might go in search of a big catfish, rivers seem to be the waterways that come to mind, when we think of these big, whiskered lunkers, probably because of the huge amount of lore surrounding catfish and the rivers of the American South. But then, the lore is there for a reason - the biggest cats in the world generally live in rivers, and in the case of North America, the rivers in which cats can be found are plentiful, with river-dwelling cats found in most areas of North America, except for the extreme North. The only thing that changes, is the size and species of cats that live there. Depending on the locale in which you are fishing, the species you find might be Channel Cats, Blue Cats or Flatheads. Blues and Channel Cats are fairly similar in habits, but Flatties have their own way about them, in certain respects.

Virtually all cats prefer darker conditions, and so, tend to move toward deeper water, with lots of structure or relief on the bottom. Because of their penchant for low-light conditions, nightfall is far and away the best time to pursue them. River fishing for cats adds a consideration in the form of the current, which can be your friend or foe, depending on how you approach things.

Generally, cats like a solid current flow, making rivers an optimum choice for catfishing. So, working with the current is the best bet. Since the current will tend to push a light bait up, as the line tugs at it, if you're casting a line, you'll need to choose a heavy, sinking bait, or use a sufficient sinker weight to get the bait down to the fish. Alternatively, jug fishing rigs or trotlines are effective at covering lots of water, and keeping baits in the action zone.

Trotlines are a line which is stretched across a span of the waterway, and secured on both ends. Along this line are spaced a number of "drops" (20 - 70 or more), which are lengths of fishing line secured to the main trotline, with a hook (often two) baited along their length. A heavy trotline will keep the centre drops down deep in the channel, and will follow the bottom progressively up as it moves towards shore at its ends, keeping all the drops near the bottom, and the fish.

Jugfishing uses a number of individual floats (jugs), each with a baited drop suspended beneath it. Drops of differing lengths can be used on several jugs, to cover a great deal of water, at every possible depth, and can have different baits deployed, too.

If you are fishing with a rod and reel, make sure your gear is strong and appropriate to the size and strength of the very powerful fish you are after. Fishing from shore, a sliding ledger, or slipweight, is a top choice for weighting a bait, without creating a stop between the bait and the rod end.

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