Catching Channel Catfish

By: Daniel Eggertsen

Of the over fifty species of catfish living in North American waters, the Channel Catfish is one of the most sought-after by cat anglers, for its incredible fighting power, even in a smaller fish, and also for its delectable eating qualities.

And, there's the fact that a decent-sized Channel cat can easily be in the mid-20 lb. range, with specimens having been taken at nearly 60 lbs. - no small catch, indeed. However, to take a fish like these, requires proper tackle, bait and technique, and above all, the right spot to find the fish you want.

Channel cats, as with virtually all catfish, prefer deeper water, but Channel cats also like it clean, clear, and with a decent current running through. The ideal spots for Channel cats are in places such as the deep holes carved out under a dam outfall, before the shallow "white water" which usually ensues, or in a deep, fast channel in between two lakes, hence the fish's name. Bottom conditions that are mostly rock or rocky, and without too many weeds, are other features to look for, in selecting the ideal Channel cat spot. Above all, find deep water, preferably a hole, where the constant darkness gives the cats the edge on everything else that swims or floats there, due to their exceptional, almost shark-like sense of smell, and their set of eight barbels, or "whiskers" around their mouths, which are not only tactile sensors, but highly developed taste organs as well, enabling the fish to navigate, plus detect, locate, quantify and qualify food items easily, in near total darkness.

As with all catfish, Channel cats have weak eyesight, anyway, but their aforementioned superpowers of smell and sightless sensation more than make up for this. Because of this particular development, Channel cats, and cats in general, are most easily attracted to baits which exhibit an exceptional level of odour, whether or not it's a bad odour.

Once you've found a spot that you think, or know, can produce a good-sized Channel cat, you'll want to prepare the fish, the spot, and your tackle, for your coming fishing expedition. Preparing the fish, and the spot, means chumming the water with a suitably prepared concoction, preferably a few times in advance of the first time you put a line in the water, and at least once, and possibly several times, during your fishing time.

Chumming is one way to gradually condition the fish to accept a particular bait, by presenting them with its smell, again and again, until they are willing to take a large piece of that food, when they find it as bait on the end of your line.

There are dozens of recipes for chum, but most all of them are based on a moist base of stale bread crust, with a bran, oatmeal or flour stiffening agent mixed into it, plus some small pieces of the same bait that you will be using when you fish the spot, and then, some kind of extra-scented additive, such as fish fertilizer or fish paste, cod liver oil, anise seed oil, or anything else you can find that will stink out the neighborhood.

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