Catfish for everybody

Catfish for everybody
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For many years I have considered fishing for catfish as a fishing domain reserved for top anglers. People, for whom simple fishing for average fish is not enough fun and for those who during search for the most intense impressions had left regular angling in favour of hunting for the real king of the freshwater basins. This image was additionally strengthened by completely fabulous descriptions of fishing huge catfish from the Ebro, Pad or Volga rivers. Besides, what common sense person fishes for fish larger than themselves?!?


I would probably have kept believing in this much longer, if I had not caught my first 1-meter long catfish, during one of the fishing trips for zanders. Despite the fact that my opponent didn’t belong to the trophy size of its species, but it impressed me a lot on the more gentle set which I used. Next day I knew that I do not have to dream about 2-meter monsters at all. It is enough if I regularly catch fish above 1 meter. One season I spent for searching, but this summer it was already worth to. My fishery is 20 minutes by car from my home, which is not of no significance, because I can be on water very often. As a matter of fact the biggest caught catfish do not exceed 150cm, but is the regular fishing for 10+ kg fish is the reason to worry about?


Finding the fishery.


First of all the catfish must be present in our fishery. It seems that middle or large rivers are optimal. In lakes, even if catfish are present, their amount often reduces our chances for regular catches. There is a confirmed rule that during fishery recon it is better to visit water more often but for shorter time, than rarely but for longer. To learn catfish’ habits it is worth being on water as often as possible at a different time of the day. In my river I had the best results during summer mornings between 7-10 am. Both earlier and later the fish strikes definitely more rarely. Of course it is possible that in your fishery those hours can be completely different. It is good practice to start fishery selection basing on the information from local anglers. They know best, where large fish broke the sets of not prepared colleagues. I found my catfish on inconspicuous, few hundred meters straight section of the river, few hundred meters below the dam. There is few holes and troughs on the bottom, and the depth do not exceed 5 meters. I admit that though it is possible to catch this fish from the bank, nevertheless the effectiveness of trolling is repeatedly higher. Simple sonar additionally speed up location of the bottom corners, close to which our predators are hovering around.

Match up your tackle


with size of the fish, which come up in your fishery. Personally I use 2 up to 2,7 meters long rods and with casting weight between 20-80 grams. For short and “more delicate” rods I’ve chosen lowprofile casting reels and for longer rods spinning reels in 3000-4000 size, absolutely with reliable drag. In both cases I use 15-20 kg lines. So basically this is a range which covers majority of the “stronger sets for pike”. Such a set, with properly regulated drag, makes possible landing really big catfish. Of course, if the fishery is technically difficult (struck down trees or other obstacles) or we will be force to powerfully stop running fish, then we can add more power to our sets. But again, those sets leave us a little of finesse and the battle make us more happy. Remember about long wolfram or fluorocarbon leader. Catfish during struggling very often wraps itself, and its teeth forming a characteristic ‘grater’ which can wipe an unprotected line.

There is a time to refute also a -

           Myth of large lures.


All this year’s catfish we caught on cranks between 6-8 cm. You are probably wondering why such a big fish attacked so small lures? Well, it turned out that our catfish just gorged on crawfish and snails. We tried larger lures, but we didn’t have any results. Superb are both floating and sinking 6 cm hornets from Salmo stable. Its aggressive and fine action, connected with well matched up trolling depth seemed to be very successful. Well proved are also 8 cm Perches, 6 cm Bullheads and 7 cm Minnows, all in SDR versions from Salmo. The colour has lower priority, although I promise myself a lot from 5 cm hornets SDR painted as crawfish, next season. On relatively long line (40-60m), mentioned wobblers achieve 4-6 meters in depth. The speed of trolling, regardless of flow direction, must be enough to fill lure action on your rod. With known fishery depth, release a lure gradually checking if it works correctly. Do it as long as you feel that your lure often clatters the bottom. Then reduce the line a little, and with the sonar indications you will be sure, that your lure is patrolling the most desirable, near bottom zone of the water. During trolling with partner and searching fish it is a good practice to use quite different sets. Let one lure penetrate deep part of water, and the other middle depths. Fish feeds in areas were it can find its prey and it is possible, that despite a common opinion catfish will strike in middle part of water or even from the surface at midday. If you penetrate different layers of water, you will sooner determine its preferences. One more tip for trolling beginners. Put your lure one the water close to the boat and then release your line. During the throw you can tangle the lure with the line, and due to a considerable distance from the lure, very often you just cannot recognize your mistake. Release your lure close to the boat and surly you will not miss your time for unproductive trolling.

The landing


of such a big fish requires some practice, but after the first catfish, you will know how to get it. If there is such a possibility, and at the end of line we hooked really good fish, it is worth swimming to the flat bank of the river. Then we got plenty of space, and possible mistakes will be less painful. The best practice seems holding on the lower jaw. Remember to protect your hand with special glove or any other material. It is also possible to use typical “pike” holding under the gill covers. But do not lift vertically the fish just holding on jaw or gill covers. Its weight devoid of water support can seriously harm internal organs of the fish. Just put aside your rod, and support belly of the fish with your other hand. Because leading of big fish can prolong in time, before releasing it give the fish some time to recover. It is enough to hold it in natural position (in the water of course), that current of river flows into the mouth. Never do it in the opposite direction, because you can damage delicate gill lips of the fish. Your booty will give a sign when will be ready to swim away. Release your trophy fish, so that it will give us unforgettable impressions as long as possible.



Mateusz Baran


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