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Thread: Catfish Fishing 101: The Basics

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    "Poor"mona, CA!
    Posts
    1,334

    Default Catfish Fishing 101: The Basics

    I'm no expert by any means but I'd like to start off with some basics for summertime catfish fishing. First off, a little fact.... there is no such thing as "catfishing". The correct way of saying it is "catfish fishing". OK now that we got that out of the way we'll be going over everything you'll need in your arsenal this summer to target those monster blue and channel catfish @ your favorite local lake!

    Reel
    There is nothing like the sound of the clicker on a baitcaster screaming away as a catfish takes off with your bait! Catfish are a smarter fish than most think and when they first pick up your bait if they feel the slightest bit of resistance they will drop your bait just as fast as they picked it up. Unless I'm fishing with circle hooks I always leave my bail open so when that cat picks up my bait and takes off with it he/she won't feel any resistance. I like to use a baitcasting reel big enough to hold 20lb test mono for one reason, the clicker. When fishing for cats at night with an open bail, having that clicker engaged you immedietly know when your getting bit. Close the bail, set the hook, and the battle is on! Bass Pro Shop makes the perfect low cost baitcasting reel called the "Megacast". It cost under $30. It comes in a 12lb and 16lb version, your going to want to go with the larger 16lb version. FYI.... this is also the perfect reel for leadcore during trout season.

    Rod
    Blue and channel catfish can grow up to and over 100 pounds! You never know when that catch of a lifetime might find its way on the end of your line so its best to come prepared to the battle. I like to use a 7 foot, medium to heavy (10-25lb test) rod. Shakespeare makes some Ugly Stiks that are under $40 that are low cost but durable rods for catfish fishing.

    Line
    Catfish mostly use their powerful scent when feeding thus there is no reason to go light on line. Keep it simple and go with some 12-20lb test mono. I like to use IzorLine because it is cheap. You can buy a large spool of it for under $20. Some people even like to use braided line while fishing for catfish near structure because of its abrasivness but it is harder to and won't cast as far as mono. If you do choose to go with braided line pick your favorite 20lb test braided line.

    Hooks
    Like I said before if that cat feels the slightest bit of resistance its going to drop your bait so your going to want to flyline your bait. In most cases you don't want to add any weights to your line as it just adds resistance. Flyline means to tie your hook, lure, etc.... directly to your line with no weights, swivels, etc... ahead of it. All you need is a simple bait (J) hook. The most important thing here is to match the size hook to the size bait you are using. I mostly fish with a 2/0 hook when fishing for catfish but when I decide to throw on a larger piece of bait I'll use up to a 5/0 hook or in some cases even larger. Just remember, make sure the cat has your bait then close your bail and set the hook! Circle hooks are an almost entirely differently way of fishing for catfish that is quickly "catching" on but I'll be covering that including the gear you'll need to do it in a future tutorial.

    Bait
    From cutbaits like mackeral, bonito, and skipjack, to hotdogs and powerbait, catfish will eat just about anything. But make no mistake about it there is nothing like some bloody, oily, fresh cutbait. Mackeral is my favorite to use as they come in the perfect size to cut up and use as bait. I like to chunk my mackeral into 4-6 (2") sections from the tail to the head. DON'T THROW AWAY THE HEAD! The big cats love them! Hook the chunk of mackeral one time making sure to leave the tip of the hook exposed. If using the head hook either the top or bottom lip one time again making sure to leave as much of the tip of the hook exposed as possible. You can also use chicken livers, shrimp, and live nightcrawlers when using this method of fishing. I'll be going over some other bait and rigging options in a future tutorial covering bait. FYI, another reason I love to use fresh cut mackeral is you can go to just about any pier in California and fish for free and catch your own free bait. It is a fun summer activity that I will also be going over in futher details in my future tutorial covering bait.

    Stay tuned for future tutorials covering topics like, location, fishing with circle hooks, and baits. The most important thing this summer is to get out there and fish! You won't get your shot at the catch of your lifetime if you don't get out there and fish! I hope to see y'all at one of my favorite local lakes this summer enjoying in the fun of targeting monster blue and channel cats!

    TaperSteve
    Last edited by TaperSteve; 05-28-2012 at 09:40 AM.

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