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IndianaFinesse

Summer channel catfish

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Do you guys have any idea where to fish for channel cats in 84 degree water?  My lake is a small, old and silted in flatland type resivoire with a maximum depth of about 35 feet with one main river channel.  The shorelines are largely covered with docks and a good percentage of the lake has thick weeds, clarity is about two and a half feet.  They finished spawning a little under a month ago but I have lost track of them since then, I have tried several times to catch them but haven't caught any.  There is a strong year class of twelve to fourteen pound fish, this makes up 90% of the catfish I have caught in the past.   Where do you thank they are, and what should I use to catch them?

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Summertime , I find them in schools out on  the flats in deeper water 15 to 25 foot deep . . 

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3 hours ago, scaleface said:

Summertime , I find them in schools out on  the flats in deeper water 15 to 25 foot deep . . 

Thank you for the reply.  How do you target them?

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I   find them on a depth finder . I use shad caught with a cast net and then dropped on ice . I simply anchor and fish where I see them . If you spot gulls  , channel cats should be close .  Another way that works surprisingly well some days is to   troll crankbaits through them .

 

Heres my dad cleaning a bunch caught on a flat about  15 foot deep with shad .

 

channels%202.jpg

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5 minutes ago, scaleface said:

I   find them on a depth finder . I use shad caught with a cast net and then dropped on ice . I simply anchor and fish where I see them . If you spot gulls  , channel cats should be close .  Another way that works surprisingly well some days is to   troll crankbaits through them .

 

Heres my dad cleaning a bunch caught on a flat about  15 foot deep with shad .

 

channels%202.jpg

Are they normally on the bottom in deep water, or are they suspended above the thermocline?  And how do you distinguish between catfish and other species?  My sonar unit is a cheapo sixty dollar thing from Wal-Mart.

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Just now, IndianaFinesse said:

Are they normally on the bottom in deep water, or are they suspended above the thermocline?  And how do you distinguish between catfish and other species?  My sonar unit is a cheapo sixty dollar thing from Wal-Mart.

I see them suspended and on the bottom but I fish for them on the bottom  .  There will be large schools of them  I dont find them below the thermocline . They are usually above it . I cant tell one fish from another on a depth finder but when I see a lot of nice sized fish on an otherwise empty flat I assume they are catfish .  Sometimes there will be white bass busting shad on top , there will usually be channels below that action .

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I catch them up shallow with a technique I call bass fishing for catfish. Most all will be 1-8 feet of water and aggressive. 

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8 hours ago, scaleface said:

I see them suspended and on the bottom but I fish for them on the bottom  .  There will be large schools of them  I dont find them below the thermocline . They are usually above it . I cant tell one fish from another on a depth finder but when I see a lot of nice sized fish on an otherwise empty flat I assume they are catfish .  Sometimes there will be white bass busting shad on top , there will usually be channels below that action .

Thanks for the help!  I tried what you suggested today for a little over an hour, and in that short time frame I caught three channel catfish.  I found a hump that rises out of the channel that goes from 32 feet up to 8 feet, and the thermocline was at twelve feet.  I had three set lines out baited with shad and punch bait, plus I had one rod baited with fresh bluegill.  All three ate the one rod that I slowly reeled and paused across the bottom, something bluebasser86 posted about a year or two ago and mentioned here after I came back that he calls bass fishing for catfish.  Since I saw his post it has been my main producer of cats, so thanks for tipping me off to that trick bluebasser86!

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Sometimes I'll let the wind blow the boat across a promising area and I lift and drop a Carolina rigged shad . Thats a good way to locate cats too .

 

 

 

 

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I have found that if the channels can't find anything dead on the bottom to eat, they will begin moving around and hunting.  I usually throw one c-rig out on the bottom and have another rod with a slip bobber on it.  I keep moving the c-rig, and changing the depth on the bobber until I find them.  The baits I like to use are cut up shad, dead minnows, and small sunnies.

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I think timing is important this time of year. I am having good luck around sunset, both before and after. And night. I have been pulling some cats with my carp rig.

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I'm more familiar with river cats myself, but if I were presented with a lake fishing scenario, I'd drift with modified carolina rig, using large cubes of beef liver. Always works for me in the river.

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On August 4, 2016 at 9:30 PM, Bluebasser86 said:

I catch them up shallow with a technique I call bass fishing for catfish. Most all will be 1-8 feet of water and aggressive. 

Care to expand on that? You've got me interested.

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7 hours ago, jtharris3 said:

Care to expand on that? You've got me interested.

I use a 7' MH Ugly Stick Lite, 30 size Okuma Avenger bait feeder spinning reel with 20lb braid and a 2/0 Eagle Claw Kahle hook and no weight, just a swivel to prevent line twist. 

I use fresh cutbait, usually bluegill or shad, but whatever good sized baitfish I can get to cut up will work. I've used drum, carp, sunfish, trout, shiners, crappie, the catfish ate it all. Cut it into appropriate sizes for the fish you're likely to catch. I'll usually use the whole head of the fish if it's a reasonable size. I try not to cut bait pieces too large since most channel cat are going to be less than 10 pounds. My average bait size is probably between 1/2 and 1 inch wide, by 3 to 4 inches tall. The hook is placed through the nostrils on the head, just below the spine on the other pieces. 

I find likely areas to hold channel cats (the love emergent weed edges on the shorelines around here because some many prey items live in those weeds). I simply cast the unweighted chunk of bait at the edge and let it settle slowly to the bottom, watching my line the entire time as they'll often strike on the fall. Once the bait hits bottom, I let it sit for a few seconds before gently lifting the rod and pulling the bait a foot or two just off the bottom and letting it sink again, not unlike very slowly fishing a T rig or jig. I use the bait feeder option on my reel because strikes are often jarring, especially when they occur while moving the bait. It allows me to gather myself a bit before I attempt to set the hook. Once I feel I'm past the productive area, I'll reel in and cast again. It's slow paced compared to fishing for bass, but it's much faster than what most folks do to catch catfish and it will catch way more fish most days because I'm covering water searching for fish that are actively searching for food. I've caught some very nice largemouth, wipers, and even walleye doing this as well. 

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Do you know any places where people have sunk brushpiles for crappie? Once the crappie move out, forget about them, but there'll be catfish on the brush almost year round. Of course they mostly eat shad and other fish. Channel cats can be caught on a variety of homemade baits. One we always had good luck with was hotdogs cut into about 3/4" lengths. You can rig them on a Carolina style rig or just put a couple split shot on. Don't go too heavy with the weight because the hotdog is tender and will come off easily. Or you could go buy some frozen shad, minnows shiners etc. or seine up some bait. Cats will also eat nightcrawlers and crawfish.

You can fish a little away from the brush to minimize your hangups in the brush. Cats will come to the smell.

My dad has a house on a local lake where we sunk Christmas trees for maybe 20 years for crappie. We caught a lot more catfish than crappie, and good size too. We had a few we didn't manage to get turned around because we were using light tackle for the panfish.

Another good bait is anything you have on the lake that's invasive, like white perch. You can have fun catching them, there's no limit and you can have free bait. They'll catch blues as well.

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