Fishing Franklin North Carolina

Fishing Franklin North Carolina

Anglers fishing Franklin North Carolina can experience some of the best trout and smallmouth bass action on the East Coast!

The Little Tennessee River flows through the heart of Franklin, North Carolina. There is a dam on the Little Tennessee River that creates Lake Emory right in the center of Franklin. The river then flows north to eventually enter Lake Fontana. This stretch of the Little Tennessee River between Franklin and Lake Fontana offers anglers some fantastic smallmouth bass action! Trout, white bass, rock bass, catfish, panfish, and even musky are also available. Several other rivers and lakes lie within an hour of Franklin and provide outstanding angling opportunities as well.

fishing franklin North Carolina

Franklin is a small town located in the mountains in the western part of North Carolina. It sits at an elevation of about 2000 feet above sea level. There are several rivers and lakes that are within an hours drive of Franklin. These bodies of water offer anglers a wide variety of fishing opportunities.

Trout and smallmouth bass fishing Franklin North Carolina

Smallmouth bass and trout are without a doubt the most popular fish species for anglers fishing Franklin North Carolina. Both trout and smallmouth bass flourish best in cold, clear water. The lakes, rivers, and streams of Western North Carolina provide this habitat perfectly.

Virginia river fishing tips

Rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout are stocked heavily in Franklin area lakes, rivers, and streams. Often times, trout and smallmouth bass can be found in the same waters. However, there are some differences in habits, seasons, and angling tactics. Therefore, smallmouth bass and trout will be covered separately.

Fishing Franklin North Carolina rivers

Many anglers visiting the Franklin North Carolina area are targeting freshwater trout. There are several rivers which offer anglers outstanding opportunities to catch rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout. Perhaps the best well-known of these is the Tuckasegee River. It is only a 20 minute drive from Franklin. The Nantahala River is a world-class trout fishery as well and is located an hour west of Franklin, North Carolina.

trout fishing in Franklin

The Cullasaja River is a very technical trout stream that flows from Highlands, North Carolina and eventually empties into the Little Tennessee River. This is a very picturesque stream, though not easy to fish. Although the stream is stocked, there are many wild fish in there as well. This is part of the attraction. The Cullasaja is in a bit of a ravine and anglers need to take care when climbing down and waiting as water levels can rise rapidly.

Both the Little Tennessee River and Tuckaseggee River offer anglers excellent smallmouth bass fishing. Both rivers empty into Fontana Lake. Anglers will find more variety in the areas where the rivers enter the lake. Spotted bass, white bass, walleye, catfish, panfish, and even musky are available.

Franklin smallmouth bass

 

River trout fishing in Franklin North Carolina

There can be no doubt that trout is king in Western North Carolina! Anglers flock to the area from large southern cities such as Charlotte and Atlanta. In fact, anglers from the entire East Coast come to the famed Tuckasegee and Nantahala Rivers to try to catch trout on a fly. Both of these rivers are heavily stocked and offer anglers a Western-style trout fishing experience.

There are several designations of trout waters in this area. These are hatchery supported waters, delayed harvest waters, catch and release/artificial lures only waters, and wild trout waters. It can be a bit confusing as all three have different rules and regulations. However, most trout rivers and streams are well marked making it easy for anglers to comply with local laws.

Hatchery supported waters in Franklin North Carolina

This is the simplest and easiest of the designations. Anglers can keep seven trout of any size for the entire year with the exception of from March first until the first Saturday in April, when the season is closed. Check regulations as every year is different. Anglers may use live bait, artificial lures with treble hooks, and of course flies. These fish are for the most part put in these waters to be taken by anglers.

rainbow trout fishing in Franklin

Hatchery supported waters are designated by XXXX signs along the stream bank. It is important for anglers to understand that if they keep fish and these hatchery supported waters, they can’t then fish closed waters while having fish in their possession. There is no way for law enforcement to know where those fish were actually caught.

Delayed Harvest trout waters

Delayed harvest trout waters are exactly as the name implies; fish are stocked but anglers are not allowed to harvest the fish right away. This results in some fantastic catch and release angling in the stretches of river. Keeping fish is prohibited from Oct 1 to the first Saturday in the following June. The season opens on the first Saturday in June. At this point, fish are allowed to be kept.

fly fishing in Franklin NC

The best actual fishing is in these delayed harvest trout waters. There is a famous stretch on the Tuckasegee River from Cullowhee to Silva. This 7 mile stretch is heavily stocked with fish of all sizes, including some large ones. Most of the fish are rainbow trout. However, brown trout and brook trout can be caught as well. The number of fish per mile and this stretch of river is as high as anywhere in the United States.

Single hook flies and lures only in the delayed harvest waters

Anglers fishing the delayed harvest sections of Franklin area rivers and streams must use flies or single hook artificial lures. Spinners, spoons, and plugs must have a single hook; no treble hooks are allowed. Live bait and prepared bait is prohibited.

There is another delayed harvest stretch of water right inside downtown Bryson city. The fishing can be terrific here as once again the fish density is very high. The river is also very accessible as it flows right through the city. Both of these stretches of delayed harvest water on the Tuckasegee get a lot of fishing pressure, particularly in the spring before the season opens up.

Franklin North Carolina brown trout

The Nantahala River has a delayed harvest stretch as well. This runs from Whireoak Creek to the power plant discharge. The river is well marked with signs so anglers can differentiate the delayed harvest waters from the hatchery supported waters.

Wild trout waters in Franklin

Wild trout waters are once again pretty self-explanatory. These are streams where wild trout breed on their own. These waters are not stocked. Because of this, these waters are heavily regulated. For the most part, this designation is given to small mountain streams with populations of wild brook trout. This is especially true in the Smoky Mountains national Park. 4 fish can be kept with a 7″ minimum size limit.

Catch and release/artificial lures only waters

Catch and release/artificial lures only waters are again self explanatory. Anglers may use single hook lures and flies. No trout can be kept. The only two waters near Franklin with this designation are Flat Creek and the Tuckasegee River above the Clark property.

Trout fishing techniques in Franklin

Anglers spin fishing for trout and Franklin use several different techniques. Live baits work well, with worms and nightcrawlers being the top choice. There are many prepare baits which work well for trout and are very convenient. Anglers casting artificial lures do very well with small spinners, spoons, and plugs. Again, anglers need to be mindful of current regulations.

 

Light spinning tackle is the best option when trout fishing in Franklin area rivers, creeks, and lakes. A six-foot ultralight spinning rod with matching reel and 4 pound monofilament line is a good all-around combo. Serious trout anglers will drop the line down to to pound test, especially when the water is clear. A very light rod and soft touch are needed to land a nice fish with this tackle.

Live and prepared bait for trout fishing

Anglers using live and natural bait do well with worms, nightcrawlers, and commercially prepared baits. These commercially prepared baits can be eggs as well as dough or putty type baits. These come in a myriad of colors and scents. Anglers will do best to experiment with different baits until they find one that is productive on that outing.

Most anglers fish both live and prepared baits using a small hook under a float. A #8 hook is a good all-around size. A small split shot can be used a foot or so above the hook if current is present. Anglers should use the smallest float possible.

Top artificial lures for trout fishing

The top artificial lure for anglers trout fishing is the small in-line spinner. Every angler has his or her favorite, with rooster tails, Mepps, and Blue Fox spinners being the most popular. These spinners come in a variety of sizes and colors. Anglers should experiment with blade and body colors until a productive pattern emerges. 1/16 ounce spinners are a good all-around size.

Spinners are excellent lures to use for trout fishing for several reasons. They catch fish of all sizes, both small fish and large. Spinners are very easy to use is angler simply cast them out, allow them to sink for a moment, then reel them in using a slow, steady retrieve. Finally, spinners allow anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish.

Other productive artificial lures include small spoons and plugs. Spoons are a good choice in open water and lakes. They cast a long way and anglers can cover a lot of water in a short amount of time. Plugs are a very effective artificial lure for catching trout, especially larger specimens. Anglers trout fishing with plugs usually will catch as many fish, but they are generally larger.

River and stream fishing in Franklin

Anglers spin fishing for trout will do well working the riffles at the heads and tails of polls. Deeper seams in the rapids are good places to drift a bait or lure. In the warmer months, trout will often seek the deeper water in the pools themselves. Reading trout water in understanding where fish hold depending on current conditions is a skill that can only come with experience.

Franklin trout fishing

Each of the Franklin area trout rivers and streams has a personality of its own. The Tuckasegee is a large river and fishes more like a Western trout stream. In most cases, the best approach is to float it. The Nantahala River is a very good choice for novice anglers as it is easily waded and fished in the non-tail water section of the river. The Cullasaja River is very technical and best suited to experienced anglers who are physically active.

Fly fishing for trout near Franklin North Carolina

Many books have been written on the subject of fly fishing for trout. We are not going to try to cover that here. What we will do is supply some excellent links to fishing reports, fly selection, and other good resources. Local fly shops are the best places to go for current information on fly hatches and river conditions.

Tuckaseegee Fly shop is the closest shop to Franklin, North Carolina. It is a 30 minute drive and is right on the Delayed Harvest waters of the Tuckasegee River.

River smallmouth bass fishing Franklin North Carolina

Smallmouth bass rank only behind the beloved trout for anglers fishing and Franklin. The little Tennessee River is renowned as one of the best smallmouth bass streams in the eastern United States. It is best known for having good numbers of fish, though there are certainly quality fish mixed in as well. The Tuckasegee River from Bryson city to Fontana Lake has a less fish in terms of numbers, but the average size will be larger. All of the area lakes have populations of smallmouth bass as well.

smallmouth bass fishing for beginners

Smallmouth bass are much less fussy than are trout, and this is a good thing! Fishing for smallmouth bass is also an excellent option in the heat of summer when trout fishing really slows. Anglers can wait or float the little Tennessee or Tuckasegee River or fish one of the several area lakes that hold smallmouth bass.

Smallmouth bass tackle is pretty basic. Anglers will do well with a 6 foot to 6 1/2 foot light spinning rod and matching real spooled up with 6 pound or 4 pound monofilament line. In the spring time when the river levels are up, anglers can get away with a bit heavier tackle. However, by late summer the water is low in clear and light tackle works best. Fly anglers will do well with a 5wt or 6wt with an intermediate sink tip line.

Best lures for smallmouth bass fishing in Franklin

While live bait certainly catches smallmouth bass, most anglers opt for using artificial lures when targeting these fish. Lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water fairly quickly. Also, smallmouth bass tend to be aggressive in nature and artificial lures will often times draw a strike. Finally, lures are just a lot of fun to fish!

The top artificial lures used when fishing for smallmouth bass are soft plastic baits, spinners and spinner baits, and hard bodied plugs. Each has their advantages and disadvantages but all of them catch fish.

 

Soft plastic baits are very effective for just about every fish that swims and smallmouth bass are no exception. A 4 inch watermelon Senko worms is deadly on smallmouth bass in both rivers and lakes. A 2 inch tube or grub body in a crawfish color fished on a 1/8 ounce or 1/16 ounce jig head is very productive as well. The one downside to fishing jigs in the rivers is that anglers will experience a fair amount of snags on the rocky bottom.

Plugs are very effective smallmouth bass baits

Plugs are an extremely effective smallmouth bass lure. The # 8 Rapala X-Rap in white or olive is a great all round bait. Anglers seeking larger fish and lakes can bump up the size to a #10. The lure is cast out and retrieved back using hard twitches with a pause in between. These plugs will generally dive a couple feet down which makes them a great choice in the deeper pools of rivers.

Many River smallmouth anglers swear by the rebel Wee Craw. This is a time proven smallmouth bass lure. It closely imitates a crayfish which is one of the smallmouth bass’s favorite meals. It also tends to bounce off rocks though anglers will occasionally hang up on the bottom.

Spinners and spinner baits are also very effective smallmouth bass lures. They are also quite easy to fish is angler simply cast them out and reel them back and steadily. Spinner baits in particular are fairly snag free. A 1/8 ounce spinner bait with a curly tail grub body and chartreuse, white, or root beer is a good choice. 1/8 ounce in-line spinners in a variety of color patterns will produce bass as well.

Fishing the Little Tennessee River

As mentioned earlier, the little Tennessee River flows right through the heart of Franklin, North Carolina. Anglers fishing the little Tennessee River have multiple options. The river flowing from the south to Lake Emory is small and is best navigated with the canoe or kayak. It offers anglers the opportunity to catch smallmouth bass, panfish, and catfish.

A dam in Franklin creates Lake Emory. This lake is a couple miles long and not very wide. It has good shoreline cover with many downed trees and other fish holding structure. Smallmouth bass are the primary target, though largemouth bass, catfish, carp, and sunfish can also be taken there. A very nice boat ramp makes for easy access. There are also several spots to launch canoes and kayaks.

Most serious anglers target the section of the little Tennessee River that flows north from Lake Emory to Lake Fontana. This is classic smallmouth bass water! Rainbow and brown trout are available as well, especially downriver from Tellico Creek. There are many nice ripples and runs with slower, deep sections and pools in between. Anglers can access the river by waiting as well as floating with canoes, kayaks, and rafts. The river is to shallow and rocky for any motorized vessel. The best fishing is in the warmer months, from late April to early November.

Fishing the Little Tennessee River from Lake Emory to Tellico Road

The little Tennessee River can be broken into two sections as it flows out of Lake Emory. The first section, from the dam to Tellico Road, is best floated. There are several access points were anglers can put in and take out their crafts, making it easy to set up a nice float. This section is deeper, which makes it better for float fishing and not as good for wading.

Anglers can access the river at several locations. The first spot is right in the tail water of the dam itself. There is public parking and a path that goes down to the river. Several miles downriver is the route 28 bridge. There is a park at this bridge with a nice deep pool. Also, great Smoky Mountains fish camp and safaris is located just downstream from the bridge. Anglers can rent canoes and kayaks as well as purchase fishing tackle at this location.

There is another public access a mile or so north along route 28. There is a pull off with plenty of parking and a produce stand. Anglers should park as far to the south as possible so they do not interfere with the produce stand business. The bank is a little steeper here and it is not as easy to launch as it is at the route 28 bridge.

More Little Tennessee River public access points

The next public access is Rose Creek bridge. This is a bit of a ways from the route 28 bridge. The bank is a little steep as well with rocks. This stretch of the little Tennessee River has a lot of private land. The owner of great Smoky Mountain fish camp and safaris does own several pieces of property in this area. He can arrange for anglers to be picked up and shuttled back to their vehicles. This is very convenient!

Several miles downriver from the Rose Creek bridge is queen branch Park. This is a nice spot for anglers to put in and take out. It has plenty of parking. However, it is a short distance from parking to the river, so anglers will have to haul their gear. The path is fine in the grade is not steep.

Fishing the Little Tennessee River from Needmore Road to Lake Fontana

The little Tennessee River changes in character right around the Tellico Road bridge. It widens out and gets shallow. This makes for excellent waiting but can be difficult for anglers to float, especially when water levels are low. Needmore Road and upper Needmore Road parallel the little Tennessee River for several miles. There are numerous pullouts and access points for anglers to wade as well as put in small canoes and kayaks.

There are 4 parks developed by the government for accessing the river. These are Rattlesnake Creek, Brush Creek, Wiggins Creek, and Sawmill Creek. Here is a good map of the access points on the Little Tennessee River. It does state that the 28 bridge is private, it is open to the public.

Eventually, the little Tennessee River empties into Lake Fontana. There are a couple boat ramps near this point were anglers can put in larger boats such as bass boats. They can then enter the mouth of the river and worked their way a few miles upstream before it gets too rocky. This can be an excellent place to find schooling white bass and other species, particularly in the fall.

Fishing the Tuckasegee River

The Tuckasegee River, or the “Tuck” as it is known locally, is one of the top trout streams on the entire East Coast. It is heavily stocked, with the delayed harvest section of the river from Webster to Silva having as many trout per mile as any River in the United States. Anglers flock to this stretch to experience some world-class trout fishing!

The Tuckasegee River begins its life and the North Carolina mountains. It is dammed a couple of times forming lakes Glenville, Cedar Cliff, and Bear Creek. The two forks join and it then flows in a north and westerly direction, running through the towns of Tuckasegee, Webster, Silva, and Bryson city before emptying into Lake Fontana. The entire section is stocked with rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout. The lower section of the river from Bryson city to Lake Fontana offers anglers the chance to catch a trophy smallmouth bass as well.

Public access on the Tuckasegee River is excellent!

There are excellent access points for anglers fishing the Tuckasegee River. Numerous parks were created with surfaced ramp’s, offering anglers with canoes, kayaks and drift boats access to the tuck a CG River. Quite a few guides and outfitters use these access points and offered drift boat trips to anglers. This has a feel that is very similar to fishing the famous Western rivers in Montana and Idaho. Anglers can see a nice MAP of the river access points.

Anglers can certainly wade the Tuckasegee River as well. Route 107 parallels many miles of the river. From color we to Silva, several roads run parallel to the river with countless pullouts offering wading anglers stream access. State Road 74 parallels the tuck a CG River to Bryson city where Route 19 takes over. All in all, access to the tuck he CG River is fantastic!

The Tuck can be a dangerous river to wade! Anglers need to take care and monitor the dam releases in stream conditions. Here is a link to scheduled flow releases. Anglers wading the Tuckasegee River from Webster to Lake Fontana are advised to wear a life preserver.

Fishing the Nantahala River

The Nantahala River flows from south to north and lies an hour or so west of Franklin, North Carolina. It is a gorgeous stream that flows through a steep ravine. There are really three sections to this River. The southern section which flows into Lake Nantahala offers excellent trout fishing. However, most of this section of the river is private with very little access.

The section of the river downstream from Lake Nantahala and flowing north into Lake Fontana is broken down into two sections. For the first 6 miles from the dam, the stream only receives water from a few tributaries. This area is well-stocked with the delayed harvest section. It offers anglers some outstanding fly fishing opportunities as well is for the angler spin fishing. Wading is normally easy with great scenery.

The Nantahala tailwater fishery

About 6 miles or so downstream from the dam, a pipe at the pumping station discharges water from Lake Nantahala into the river. This is what creates the very fast flowing section of the river. Tubers and white water canoeists and kayakers enjoy this section of the river. Anglers can experience some excellent fishing in the section of the river. It is highly recommended to go with a licensed outfitter and drift the river in a raft. Wading this section of the river when water is running can be very dangerous!

Access to the Nantahala below the dam is excellent. Several roads including Junaluska Road, Old River Road, and Wayah Road parallel the non-Taylor River for many miles. There are countless pull offs and areas to part for anglers to access the river. Keep in mind that this River does get a lot of fishing pressure, particularly on the weekends. Though it is a remote setting, anglers will not have this River to themselves.

Fishing the Cullasaja River

The Cullasaja River is really more of a stream that a river. A dam in Highlands, North Carolina creates Lake Sequoyah. From there, the river flows through the ravines in the mountains, eventually emptying into the little Tennessee River. US Highway 64 parallels the river offering anglers good access. It is a beautiful stream offering anglers the chance to catch a native brook and rainbow trout. The color Ceja is conveniently located to anglers staying in either Franklin or Highlands North Carolina.

The stretch of the color sage a river that is most productive for trout fishing is from Goldmine Road to drive falls. As mentioned earlier, this is a very technical trout stream. It is probably not the best choice for novice fly anglers. Some climbing is required in the rocks can be slippery, so anglers should take care. Also, flash flooding can occur in while the river is small it can gain in velocity and volume quickly so anglers should take care when wading.

Other smaller creeks in Franklin North Carolina

There are smaller streams which are either stocked or have decent populations of wild trout. These include Burningtown Creek, Cartoogechaye Creek, Chatooga River, Jarrett Creek, Kimsey Creek, Overflow Creek, Park Creek, Tellico Creek, and Turtle Pond Creek in Macon County. Jackson County strams include Flat Creek, Cullowhee Creek, Dark Ridge Creek, Greens Creek, Savannah Creek, Scott Creek, and Tanasee Creek.

Franklin North Carolina area lakes

While the stream and river fishing for trout and smallmouth bass gets the majority of fishing attention, there are a half-dozen lakes within an hour of Franklin that offer anglers some excellent fishing as well. These include Glenville Lake, Cedar Cliff Lake, great Bear Lake, Lake Fontana, Lake Nantahala, and Lake Chatuge.

Franklin North Carolina area lakes

Most of these are your classic mountain lakes with steep shorelines in clear water. Smallmouth bass, spotted bass, largemouth bass, white bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, and while I are the top species available. Lakes are listed by their distance from Franklin.

Fishing Glenville Lake

Glenville Lake is the closest Lake to Franklin. It is about a 40 minute drive to the east. This is a beautiful lake and is at the highest elevation of any Lake east of the Mississippi River. It has 26 miles of shoreline. Surprisingly, Glenville Lake offers anglers a chance to catch decent size largemouth bass. This is a bit unusual for a mountain Lake. Smallmouth bass, walleye, and trout are also present in decent numbers.

Glenville like does get a lot of recreational traffic in the summer time. Anglers will do best fishing on weekdays and early and late in the day is best. Spring and fall are excellent times to fish as the water is cooler and the crowds are not present. There are several nice boat ramps offering good access to Lake Glenville.

There are two excellent surfaced ramps on the north end of the lake. These are located at 1371 Pine Creek Road and a mile away at 2799 Pine Creek Road. Anglers can read more about it on the North Carolina Wildlife website.

Fishing Cedar Cliff Lake

Cedar Cliff Lakes is a smaller, lower lake that is formed by a dam on the east fork of the Tuckasegee River. It is 120 acres and 4 ½ miles long. It is not stcked but offers good fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout, and panfish.

Cedar Cliff Lake is a bit more remote and does not get the fishing pressure that Glenville does. There is an excellent surfaced ramp at 3072 state road 1132, Tuckasegge, NC

Fishing Bear Creek Lake

Bear Creek Lake is a bit larger than Cedar Cliff lake at 475 acres and a little over 13 miles of shoreline. Smallmouth bass and trout are the primary attractions for anglers. However, largemouth bass, crappie, and panfish are also available. It is stocked by the state.

The water does not drop off as steeply in Bear Creek Lake as it does on some other mountain lakes. This results in a nice “zone between 10 feet deep and 30 feet deep along the shore. Jerkbaits produce some nice smallmouth bass as well as largemouth. The boat ramp is at the end of state road 1137 off of 281.

Fishing Fontana Lake

Fontana Lake is huge! It is the 4th deepest lake in the US, and the deepest lake east of the Rocky Mountains. Fontana Lake is 31 miles long. It has 210 miles of shoreline and the average depth of the lake is over 100 feet deep. It is an easy 45 minute drive from Franklin on good, two lane highways. Bryson City is a short drive away.

The fishing on Fontana Lake can be very good. The list of available species is long and includes largemouth Bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, muskie, spotted Bass, rainbow and brown trout, catfish, and panfish. Fallen trees and sloping rocky points are great fish-holding structure.

Spring rains cause water level in the lake to rise. This triggers a spawning run up into the tributay rivers. Steelhead move upstream in April through May and offer some great afternoon into late evening fly fishing on the mouths of the Tuckasegee and Little Tennessee Rivers.

Summer will find bass on the main lake points and channels. Early and late in the day is best. Anglers will find schooling fish on the surface at times. This is especially true in late summer and early fall as water levels drop. Fish will move from the rivers into the main lake.

There are several public boat ramps on Fontana Lake. Most anglers leaving Frankin use the Lemmons Branch boat ramp.

Fishing Lake Nantahala

Lake Nantahala is a deep, clear mountain lake. The scenery is spectacular! This 1600 acre lake is about an hour west of Franklin. It is off of Wayah Road, which is truly a mountain road! The lake supports a variety of game fish, with trout and smallmouth bass being the most popular species.

Lake Nantahala used to support a landlocked kokanee salmon population. However, that fishery seems to have collapsed the last few years. The shoreline drops off sharply into deep water. Anglers work rocky points and shoreline cover. This is not an easy lake to fish, but the scenery and solitude alone make it worth the trip.

There are two public boat ramps on Lake Nantahala. Most anglers basing out of Franklin use the Rocky Branch access.

Fishing Chatuge Lake

Lake Chatuge is 45 minutes southwest of Franklin on a nice two lane highway. It straddles the North Carolina Georgia border. It is a large lake and has a “southern” feel. Lake Chatuge is around 7,000 acres with 130 miles of shoreline.

While Lake Chatuge is home to over thirty species of fish, bass are the main quarry of anglers. Largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, striped, and hybrid bass are available to anglers. The water is fairly deep without a ton of structure. Boat docks are prime spots, as are underwater points and channel edges. The most convenient boat ramp is at Ledford Chapel Road. Turn south on Ledford Chapel Road from 64, it is a mile or so to the ramp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

The subject of this article is Minnesota walleye and pike fishing. Walleye are arguably the most popular freshwater fish in our northern states, and Minnesota is no exception.

walleye fishing tips

Minnesota may offer anglers the best walleye fishing in the country. Lakes and river systems with prime walleye habitat abound. Anglers target, and catch, walleye all year long, including through the ice in winter. Multiple techniques are used by anglers to catch walleye. While walleye put up a decent tussle, they are prized for their value on a dinner plate. Walleye have white, flaky fillets that are fabulous eating!

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing expert Brenda

Brenda Chesshir is our Fishing Ladies Minnesota walleye fishing expert. She grew up in St Paul, MN and her outdoor background stems from her parents passion with fishing since she was knee high.

“I was fortunate enough to have a family cabin for 35 years in McGregor, MN on lake Minnewawa. This was a multi-species lake so bass, pike and eyes were my target. I became addicted to walleyes and the challenge of learning different techniques based on the time of year, learning locations, best structure; Minnewawa was a weed walleye lake – shallow, weedy, and full of cabbage. Over the years I have been fortunate to fish alongside some professional fisherman and be mentored by some old-timers.

walleye fishing for beginners

Follow Brenda on IG

As I became more addicted to walleyes, I started to upgrade from my small 16.5 foot Northwood’s with 25 horse to a 17.5 foot Lund Pro V with 115 horse and of course at that point, I added a Humminbird Helix 7 and a MinnKota Terrova trolling motor; Spot Lock is a life saver for me, as I am able to mark and get on fish…goodbye anchor!! I get out on the water as often as possible and is highly skilled at catching walleye.”

Minnesota walleye fishing techniques

Walleye can be taken by several different methods. Anglers can cast, drift, troll, and even fish through the ice. Live bait and artificial lures are both very productive. Leeches, minnows, and nightcrawlers are the top live baits. Jigs, spoons, soft plastic baits, and crank baits are the top producing artificial lures. Walleye are generally found near the bottom. However, they will rise up in the water column to feed on overcast days, dusk, dawn, and at night.

trolling for walleye

Minnesota walleye fishing with live bait

Brenda suggests to novice anglers that are just getting into walleye fishing to drift or slow troll with live bait. A live crawler, leech, or minnow on a Lindy Rig or other bottom bouncing rig is the best way for a novice angler to catch walleye. Walleye feed on the bottom, baits need to be in that zone in order to draw a strike.

This system consists of a special sinker that “walks” along the bottom. The line runs through the sinker. A swivel stops the weight. Then, a 6 pound test flourocarbon leader of 3′ to 6′ is then tied on the swivel. A #4 to #8 Gamakatsu hook completes the rig. The baits are hooked in the front so that they swim naturally.

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

Drifting and slow trolling is effective on walleye

Anglers then drift or very slowly troll over likely areas. Ledges, rock piles, points, and wrecks will all hold walleye. On days with a little breeze, drifting will work quite well. On calm days, anglers will need to provide the movement by trolling very slowly. If a drift or troll does not produce fish, anglers should try another spot. Once fish are located, that area should be worked slowly and thoroughly.

“I find that slow death rigs with Mack’s Smile Blades are very effective. Simply thread a night crawler on the hook and pinch off, it spins slowly along. As summer heats up the fish go deep into32-36 feet of water. This is where trolling with lead-core comes into action and the “Precision Trolling, The Trollers Bible” book comes into play. Though relativity new at this technique, I plan to master it this coming summer. I see a lead core trolling “clinic” in my future. I mostly use leeches on Mille Lacs.”

Minnesota walleye fishing tackle

Here is a nice Diawa Accudepth trolling combo,

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Trolling with lures for Minnesota walleye

Artificial lures can be extremely effective when trolled as well. The main advantage is that lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. Anglers trolling plugs of different sizes and colors can quickly find a productive pattern that produces fish. Plugs are generally trolled at faster speeds than live bait.

walleye lures

Brenda’s favorite lures for casting and trolling for walleyes are as follows;

“One of my methods for catching walleye is trolling crankbaits. I prefer to use shad style crankbaits as they provide a subtle wobbling action. I mainly use size 5 and size 7 baits. Trolling is a very productive technique that keeps me in good contact with fish that are active.

I also use a variety of stick-style baits. If the fish are holding in deeper water, I will troll similar baits on a line-counter, lead-core rig or use planer boards. This will ensure that the baits get down far enough to entice the fish. I typically troll at speeds from .7 to 1.2 MPH, depending on weather and bite conditions. I adjust my speed accordingly based on the reaction of fish to the bait.

Casting for Minnesota walleye

Casting for walleye is another one of my productive methods. Fishing the shorelines, shallow weed lines, and mid-lake humps while pitching various crankbaits is a blast! I’ll still cast shad and stick style baits, as well as rattling baits such as the Rattlin’ Rapala. You may even find me throwing an occasional spinnerbait for weed-walleyes!

Minnesota walleye fishing

If I want to target deeper water and cast, I will throw a lead jig paired with a leech, crawler, shiner, or plastic paddle tail. I will cover the structure with my bow mount trolling motor and pitching the jig and letting it sink to the depths and actively jig it back to the boat.

All baits used will depend on water quality and feeding patterns. Essentially, you are wanting to match the hatch and mimic the available forage. This could be crayfish, minnows, leeches, or small fish such as yellow perch. The color I use will depend on water clarity and cloud cover. When it is more on the cloudy side, I like to use brighter colors like neon orange, chartreuse, pink, and purple. On sunny days I use gold and silver metallic chrome colored baits. My favorite color patterns are clown and perch.

Catching Minnesota walleye without a boat

While anglers Minnesota walleye fishing from boats have an advantage, shore-bound fishing can produce as well. This is particularly true along river banks. Tailwaters below dams can be extremely effective spots to catch walleye and other species. Live baits can be drifted in the current. Casting lures will also produce fish.

Minnesota ice fishing

Ice fishing is an extremely effective walleye technique. Obviously, it does not require a boat! However, it does require some special gear such as an ice auger, perhaps a shanty, and other equipment. Also, safety is of the utmost importance!

Brenda really enjoys ice fishing for Minnesota walleye! The ice fishing generally starts in December and goes until first part of March, but this can vary year to year.  Brenda prefers to use rods to fish for walleye, though tip-ups and rattle reels are also very effective.

Minnesota walleye fishing through the ice

Brenda’s favorite method to use when targeting walleye through the ice is Rattle Reels, jigging rod, and bobber-style rods.

“I tend to run 18-24 inches off the bottom using large golden shiners or lite sucker minnows. I jig with a Lindy Frostee Spoon, Northland Forage Minnow or Buckshot spoon with a pinched-off minnow head. A lot of times the action of the jigging calls in the fish, and then the fish will come in and grab the bobber or rattle reel lines.

“I find on Mille Lacs that keeping it simple with a plain hook and a 3 foot leader on the rattle reels is most effective. I use 4 to 6 pound test line and I prefer green Berkley Trilene. Right now I am finding fish for the evening/morning bite in 7-10 feet of water, however I am hearing good reports on North-end in 32-36 feet.

ice fishing for walleye

“With my home in close proximity to the lake, I am fortunate to get out more than most. This year I went from a 6×8 foot skid house to a 14 foot Ice Castle – so no more roughing it, and am not able to spend many comfortable nights out on the ice. There is nothing better than hearing the rattle reel go off in the middle of the night”.

Minnesota walleye season migrations

Walleye follow distinct seasonal migrations. Like most species, they are found in shallow water in the cooler months during spring and fall. Conversely, they seek out deeper water in summer and winter.

Walleye are often found in waters 10 feet deep or shallower early in the season and and fall. During the summer months, many of these areas experience vegetation growths. That, along with rising water temperatures will push the fish out deeper. By early June, most walleye have moved out to deeper water. They will return again in early November.

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

Walleye will spend their summers offshore, usually relating to some type of structure. Depth changes such as drop-offs on flats or humps, channel edges, submerged rock piles, and edges of weed beds in water between 8 feet deep and 20 feet deep are the best spots to try. Walleye feed best early and late in the day and at night. This is particularly true in the summer time.

Walleye fishing is good in the fall

Again, like most other species, walleye feed heavily in the fall as they fatten up for winter. Successful anglers will find the schools of forage fish, understanding that while I and other game fish will be nearby. Many of the same deep water structure spots that produced in summer will also be good spots to try in the fall.

While I will slow down and be less active in the winter. As weed beds die off, finding the submerged beds will be important. The edges of weed beds and 10 to 15 feet of water that drop off into deeper water are great spots to target winter walleye for both open water boaters and ice fishermen.

Northern pike fishing tips

Northern Pike are apex predators. They are aggressive and feed mostly on fish. However, they will devour nice, ducks, frogs, and just about anything they can get their teeth into. For this reason, most anglers targeting northern pike use lures that are on the large size. The old axiom, “big bait equal big fish” applies to pike.

Pike are often associated with weed beds in relatively shallow water. They lie in wait and ambush prey as it comes into range. This is another reason why most pike are taken by anglers using artificial baits. Lures are easier to use in these weedy environments. Northern pike are also caught in rivers, particularly where they dump into lakes. Ledges and humps will also hold fish.

Most anglers use medium spinning or bait casting tackle when fishing for pike. Large baits and lures and big fish in heavy cover require fairly stout tackle. 7′ medium/heavy rods with matching reels and 40 pound braided line work well. Most anglers use a short steel leader, but some omit that, especially when fishing in very clear water.

Northern pike fishing tips, lures

Daredevle

The Eppinger Original Dardevle spoon is an old-school lure that has been catching pike for decades. It still produces to this day. The most popular size id the “0” which weighs one ounce. Daredevle spoons can be cast a long way and have an enticing, wobbling action.

pike fishing in Minnesota

The two most popular colors are the red and white and “Five of Diamonds”. Other colors, including chrome, are certainly productive. While not weedless, they can be worked over and through grass beds. The best retrieve is a steady one with some pauses and twitches. A swivel is required to reduce line twist.

Zara spook

The Heddon Zara Spook is a topwater plug that has been around a long time. Iw was invented 75 years ago and has been catching fish ever since. It floats on the surface and is retrieved back using a technique called “walking the dog”. The rod tip is held low and twitched as the lure is retrieved steadily. This causes the lure to swing back and forth. Pike and other game fish find this difficult to resist!

The Zara Spook comes on one size. It is 4 1/2” long and weighs around an ounce. It cast well. Colors matter less on topwater plugs, but Bone, Chrome, and Frog are popular color patterns.

Mepps spinners

Mepps is another company that has been producing lures for a long time. The #5 Mepps Aglia Spinner is a very effective lure for catching northern pike. The thick bucktail dressing helps to reduce getting snagged on the weeds. It weighs ½ ounce and casts well. Most anglers use a steady retrieve, but vary the speed until a productive pace for that day emerges.

Anglers seeking a trophy northern pike will use the Mepps Giant Killer. This is a large lure that produces trophy pike and musky. It is heavy and can be used to effectively work deeper points and ledges.

Rat-L-Trap

The Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap is a terrific artificial lure that catches many different species. It is very effective on northern pike. One once is the most popular size and chrome with a blue back and chrome with a chartreuse back are two excellent patterns. The lure casts well and puts out a tremendous vibration when retrieved.

The Rat-L-Trap is fairly weedless, despite have open, exposed treble hooks. A steady retrieve works well, though anglers can “rip” it through the weeds. This is deadly on pike as the lure is pulled sharply when it hangs on the grass. Pike assault it as it pulls free of the weeds.

Booyah spinnerbait

The Booyah Pikie Spinnerbait is a terrific lure for pike as well as large bass and musky. It is relavively heavy with a large, stout hook. Spinnerbaits are fairly weedless and do through weeds pretty well. It has tandem blades. The single hook makes releasing fish much easier.

Natural baits for northern pike fishing

northern pike fishing Minnesota

Ann White catches plenty of northern pike. She likes frozen smelt and suckers.

“My go to pike baits are frozen smelt or 8-10 inch frozen suckers. Either of which work great in early spring shortly after ice off. Pike will cruise large shallow flats in search of schools of bait fish, so often shore fishing is more productive than fishing from a boat. The large shallows warm up quicker than deeper areas which attracts the bait fish to feed on early insect hatches.

A simple rig of a 3-4 oz. no roll bait, sinker stopper, and swivel, followed by a 12 inch, 50 lb test leader of mono, with a baited circle hook has proven effective for shore fishing. When ice fishing, we switch to a pike rig that is created with a 8 inch loop of wire leader containing two treble hooks. Each hook goes into the bait fish, one at the front, one at the back.

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

When a pike then takes the bait, the two hooks slide together and will have a better chance of hooking up. Steel leader will prevent breaking line on sharp teeth.  This rig is particularly effective when using automatic fishermen, jaw jackers, or other self setting tip-ups.”

live baits for pike fishing

Most anglers northern pike fishing with live bait use some type of fish. Minnows such as chubs work well for smaller to average sized pike. Those targeting larger fish will opt for a larger bait such as a perch or sucker. The same rig used for frozen bait, minus the sinker, fished under a float works well. Nightcrawlers and frogs can also be used.

Northern pike fishing through the ice

Many northern pike are taken through the ice as well. Anglers fishing the “hard water” do well using both lures and lives baits, often combining the two. A jig and minnow is a top producer. Special plugs that are worked vertically like a jig are also effective. Live minnows and suckers will catch fish, too. The same spots that produce in the fall will also do well for anglers ice fishing. Submerged weed beds, points, ledges, and structure in 8′ to 20′ of water are good spots to try.

Northern pike fishing tips

This article with our ladies shares northern pike fishing tips. Northern pike are a very popular game fish. They are found in the northern United States and Canada, as well as other parts of the world.

Northern Pike are apex predators. They are aggressive and feed mostly on fish. However, they will devour nice, ducks, frogs, and just about anything they can get their teeth into. For this reason, most anglers targeting northern pike use lures that are on the large size. The old axiom, “big bait equal big fish” applies to pike.

Northern pike love weeds!

Pike are often associated with weed beds in relatively shallow water. They lie in wait and ambush prey as it comes into range. This is another reason why most pike are taken by anglers using artificial baits. Lures are easier to use in these weedy environments. Northern pike are also caught in rivers, particularly where they dump into lakes. Ledges and humps will also hold fish.

Most anglers use medium spinning or bait casting tackle when fishing for pike. Large baits and lures and big fish in heavy cover require fairly stout tackle. 7′ medium/heavy rods with matching reels and 40 pound braided line work well. Most anglers use a short steel leader, but some omit that, especially when fishing in very clear water.

Northern pike fishing tips, lures

Daredevle

The Eppinger Original Dardevle spoon is an old-school lure that has been catching pike for decades. It still produces to this day. The most popular size id the “0” which weighs one ounce. Daredevle spoons can be cast a long way and have an enticing, wobbling action.

The two most popular colors are the red and white and “Five of Diamonds”. Other colors, including chrome, are certainly productive. While not weedless, they can be worked over and through grass beds. The best retrieve is a steady one with some pauses and twitches. A swivel is required to reduce line twist.

Zara spook

The Heddon Zara Spook is a topwater plug that has been around a long time. Iw was invented 75 years ago and has been catching fish ever since. It floats on the surface and is retrieved back using a technique called “walking the dog”. The rod tip is held low and twitched as the lure is retrieved steadily. This causes the lure to swing back and forth. Pike and other game fish find this difficult to resist!

The Zara Spook comes on one size. It is 4 1/2” long and weighs around an ounce. It cast well. Colors matter less on topwater plugs, but Bone, Chrome, and Frog are popular color patterns.

Mepps spinners

Mepps is another company that has been producing lures for a long time. The #5 Mepps Aglia Spinner is a very effective lure for catching northern pike. The thick bucktail dressing helps to reduce getting snagged on the weeds. It weighs ½ ounce and casts well. Most anglers use a steady retrieve, but vary the speed until a productive pace for that day emerges.

Anglers seeking a trophy northern pike will use the Mepps Giant Killer. This is a large lure that produces trophy pike and musky. It is heavy and can be used to effectively work deeper points and ledges.

Rat-L-Trap

The Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap is a terrific artificial lure that catches many different species. It is very effective on northern pike. One once is the most popular size and chrome with a blue back and chrome with a chartreuse back are two excellent patterns. The lure casts well and puts out a tremendous vibration when retrieved.

The Rat-L-Trap is fairly weedless, despite have open, exposed treble hooks. A steady retrieve works well, though anglers can “rip” it through the weeds. This is deadly on pike as the lure is pulled sharply when it hangs on the grass. Pike assault it as it pulls free of the weeds.

Booyah spinnerbait

The Booyah Pikie Spinnerbait is a terrific lure for pike as well as large bass and musky. It is relavively heavy with a large, stout hook. Spinnerbaits are fairly weedless and do through weeds pretty well. It has tandem blades. The single hook makes releasing fish much easier.

Natural baits for northern pike fishing

Ann White catches plenty of northern pike. She likes frozen smelt and suckers.

“My go to pike baits are frozen smelt or 8-10 inch frozen suckers. Either of which work great in early spring shortly after ice off. Pike will cruise large shallow flats in search of schools of bait fish, so often shore fishing is more productive than fishing from a boat. The large shallows warm up quicker than deeper areas which attracts the bait fish to feed on early insect hatches.

A simple rig of a 3-4 oz. no roll bait, sinker stopper, and swivel, followed by a 12 inch, 50 lb test leader of mono, with a baited circle hook has proven effective for shore fishing. When ice fishing, we switch to a pike rig that is created with a 8 inch loop of wire leader containing two treble hooks. Each hook goes into the bait fish, one at the front, one at the back.

When a pike then takes the bait, the two hooks slide together and will have a better chance of hooking up. Steel leader will prevent breaking line on sharp teeth.  This rig is particularly effective when using automatic fishermen, jaw jackers, or other self setting tip-ups.”

live baits for pike fishing

Most anglers northern pike fishing with live bait use some type of fish. Minnows such as chubs work well for smaller to average sized pike. Those targeting larger fish will opt for a larger bait such as a perch or sucker. The same rig used for frozen bait, minus the sinker, fished under a float works well. Nightcrawlers and frogs can also be used.

Northern pike fishing through the ice

Many northern pike are taken through the ice as well. Anglers fishing the “hard water” do well using both lures and lives baits, often combining the two. A jig and minnow is a top producer. Special plugs that are worked vertically like a jig are also effective. Live minnows and suckers will catch fish, too. The same spots that produce in the fall will also do well for anglers ice fishing. Submerged weed beds, points, ledges, and structure in 8′ to 20′ of water are good spots to try.

Top Minnesota walleye and pike fishing spots

Leech Lake

Leech Lake is a very popular and extremely productive lake for anglers Minnesota walleye fishing. This lake offers walleye anglers both numbers of fish and trophies. Leech Lake is full of upper slot walleyes. Live bait is very effective but anglers using artificial lures should have no trouble experiencing good action as well.

Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods is a fantastic walleye fishery in northern Minnesota! It’s 25,000 miles of shoreline in over 14,000 islands provide great habitat for walleye and other species. The fishing may even be surpassed by the incredible scenery. It is a long drive for many anglers, however it is time well spent.

Rainy River and the area around Pine Island and the Gap are well known and productive walleye spots. However, just about every point, Island, and tributary can and will produce walleye. Minnows are the top live bait. Anglers using artificial lures do well with bright colors such as gold and pink. Jigs are great bet in the rocky bottom.

Red Lake

Red Lake is another great fishery for anglers Minnesota walleye fishing. It is a terrific early season lake and is an excellent choice for anglers seeking action. Recent DNR surveys have shown an abundance of fish in the 10 inch to 20 inch range. For that reason, harvesting restrictions have been eased. There are a lot of fish in this lake!

The best bet for targeting early season walleye’s is to work the banks on the north and south sides of the lake and water around 6 feet deep. Minnows work very well on Red Lake. Due to the fact that fish are often shallow, anglers can fish live minnow under a bobber effectively. Don’t be surprised if a large crappie intercepts the minnow.

Lake Winnibigoshish

Lake Winnibigoshish is located just north of Leech Lake and is another terrific walleye fishery. The lake is very much in its natural state, with over 90% of the shoreline being undeveloped. There are a lot of walleye in the 15 inch to 20 inch range in this lake, making it a good option for anglers looking to keep of you for a meal. Anglers working 10 foot depths from Cutfoot Sioux to Williams Narrows should have success.

Otter tail Lake

Otter Tail Lake is in the western part of the state. This lake has a lot of walleye and it. It is the largest lake in the region and has a hatchery right on the lake. Anglers seeking numbers of fish will find this lake hard to beat. Shoreline breaks and cover are the best spots early in the season. Live minnows fished on jig heads or under bobbers is the top producing technique. Otter Tail Lake gets less pressure than some of the other more famous walleye fisheries.

Rainy Lake

Big Rainy Lake lies on the Minnesota and Ontario border. It gets less pressure than its sister Lake, Lake of the Woods. However, it is a terrific option for anglers Minnesota walleye fishing. It offers great fishing and outstanding scenery. River mouths are top spots, especially in the spring. Jigs bounced along the bottom, either with a dressing or tipped with a minnow, produce well. Black Bay is a great place to start.

Mille Lacs

Mille Lacs needs no introduction to many anglers Minnesota walleye fishing. It is one of the best walleye fisheries in the world. Despite recent claims, Mille Lacs still offers anglers excellent walleye fishing. Also, with stricter regulations boat traffic will be reduced. As an added bonus, Mille Lacs offers outstanding fishing for smallmouth bass and crappie along with some jumbo yellow perch.

St Croix River

The St. Croix River is one of the better fisheries’ for anglers closer to the cites. Start in the Stillwater area and work your way south. Fishing by the railroad bridge or any of the pier’s from bridges usually produce with bobbers or jigs.  Trolling early morning can generally pull some nice eyes. Best time is early morning till noon, this is based on the popularity of the river and boat traffic gets a little heavy.

In conclusion, this article on Wisconsin walleye fishing will help anglers catch more of these great fish, both in Wisconsin and all over North America!

Best US lakes for northern pike fishing

Most of the best opportunities for catching trophy northern pike are in Canada. Countless remote shallow, weedy lakes and river systems offer anglers a great chance to hook the fish of a lifetime. However, there are plenty of good northern pike fishing spots in the lower 48.

Thousand Islands

This area of the St Lawrence River borders the United States and Canada and has a healthy northern pike fishery. Most fish are in the 5 pound range, with pike over 10 pounds being caught regularly. This is a great fishery for anglers seeking a ,lot of action. Other species such as bass, musky, and walleye will be caught as well.

Great Lakes

Presque Isle Bay is arguable the best norther pike fishery in Lake Erie. Green Bay offers excellent pike action. Michigan lakes including Muskegon Lake, Portage Lake, Manistee Lake, and Lake St. Clair all offer excellent fishing for pike and other species.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin lakes and river systems are well known as top northern pike waters. The Winnebago system in particular is an outstanding fishery. Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan Lakes, along with the Fox and Wolf rivers provide anglers with the chance to catch pike over 20 pounds.

Minnesota

Minnesota is second to no state when it comes to trophy northern pike waters. Mille Lacs and Lake of the Woods are two large, diverse, and productive fisheries. Rainy Lake is another top producer

Western waters

Not a lot of anglers associate pike with fishing out west, but there are some very good fishing holes. Devils Lake, Mike’s Lake, Silver Lake, and Pelican Lake, North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea, Lake Oahe, and Fort Peck Lake are top spots. Spinney Mountain, Eleven Mile, and Williams Fork lakes in Colorado are good pike lakes as well.

In closing, this article on northern pike fishing tips  will help anglers

 

 

 

Manitoba and Alberta Fishing Tips

Manitoba and Alberta fishing tips from Jocelyn and Kristen

These Manitoba and Alberta fishing tips will help anglers catch more fish! Both Manitoba and Alberta offer anglers some excellent fishing opportunities.

Manitoba and Alberta are sportsman’s and sports women’s paradises! Streams, rivers, and lakes offer anglers a chance to catch over a dozen species of game fish. The red river is famous as a world-class catfish destination. Walleye are very popular and are abundant. Northern pike and musky will put anglers tackle to the test. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are readily available. Pan fish please anglers seeking a meal. Both open water fishing and ice fishing are extremely productive.

Manitoba Fishing Tips, Action and Variety!

This article will share some awesome Manitoba and Alberta fishing tips. Manitoba, Canada offers anglers a wide variety of fishing options along with many different species that are available.

Manitoba and Alberta fishing tips

Follow Jocelyn on IG

Jocelyn is our fishing ladies Manitoba correspondent. She grew up in this area and knows it’s waters well.

“I work at a Powersports dealership in the parts dept. We sell Ultraskiff and Legend Boats, along with a few motorcycle/atv/side by side lines. I bought a Legend Boat last year and a year prior got myself an Uktraskiff. Check them out if you haven’t yet! Awesome little solo fishing platform! My husband and I are avid fishers and our spare time is spent either on the water or planning our next adventure.”

Fishing in Manitoba for catfish

Manitoba and trophy catfish are synonymous. The Red River flows north from the United States into Lake Winnipeg. It provides anglers with world-class catfish. Shore bound anglers can do very well as there are many different spots to access the river. The section below the dam at Lakeport is particularly productive.

Manitoba fishing tips

Most anglers associate catfish with bottom fishing, and rightfully so. Catfish are built to feed on the bottom. However, that does not mean that there are not discerning predators. Most serious anglers targeting large catfish use chunks of fresh caught fish such as suckers. Nightcrawlers and prepared baits will catch catfish as well. Heavy spinning or medium bait casting tackle is required to handle a large catfish in the river current.

Walleye fishing in Manitoba

Walleye are an extremely popular species and Manitoba and all over North America. While walleye put up a decent fight, for most anglers a value is on a dinner plate. Walleye are one of the finest eating fish that swims! Manitoba waters offer outstanding walleye habitat, both in rivers and lakes.

Manitoba walleye fishing

Trolling and drifting are the most popular ways to target walleye. Anglers trolling use artificial lures such as crank baits which imitate yellow perch and other forage fish. Trolling has advantages in that it allows anglers to present multiple baits while also covering a large area in a relatively short amount of time.

Drifting is extremely productive for walleye as well. While anglers do not cover as much water as they do trolling, they do so more thoroughly. Special sinkers designed to bounce along the bottom are used in conjunction with a leader and a live bait. Leeches, minnows, and nightcrawlers are top baits. Often times a spinner is used ahead of the hook to help attract fish.

Manitoba fishing tips; catching smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass are terrific fighters in are abundant in the streams and lakes of Manitoba. Light spinning tackle is most often used as smallmouth rarely grow over 5 pounds. They are fairly aggressive and many anglers target them using artificial lures. Spinners, jigs, and small shallow diving plugs are the top artificial lures.

Manitoba smallmouth bass fishing

Smallmouth bass will certainly be taken using live bait as well. Crayfish are very high on a basses diet. They have a very high protein content. In fact, many lures are designed to imitate crayfish. Minnows are another top live bait. Like most predator fish, smallmouth bass feed on other small fish. Nightcrawlers are another terrific live bait.

Smallmouth bass love rocks! Boulders and rocks in the middle of streams and rivers will create an eddy which will attract smallmouth bass. They will lie in wait out of the current flow, ready to ambush unsuspecting prey. Submerge rocky bottom and humps and lakes are prime smallmouth bass spots. Sloping points in lakes with rock or gravel are great places to try as well. Rivers and streams entering lakes are prime spots for smallmouth bass and other species.

Manitoba northern pike fishing

Many anglers associate Canada fishing with northern pike. These aggressive predators are abundant in Manitoba and in most of Canada and the northern United States. Pike are ambush predators and are often targeted in and around weed beds. With their shape and coloring, they easily blend in with the existing weeds, waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting prey.

pike fishing in Manitoba

Pie can be taken by anglers using live bait. However, because they are so aggressive and often times are found in the weeds, most anglers opt for artificial lures. Large spinners, top water plugs, spoons, and soft plastic baits are all very effective. Suckers, both live and frozen, are the bait of choice for anglers choosing natural bait.

While many anglers target the weed beds when seeking pike, especially looking for numbers, often times the larger pike are found in deeper water. Submerge grass beds and ledges in water between 10 and 15 feet will often hold the larger specimens. This takes a little more effort, but for the angler willing to give it their all, they can be rewarded with a trophy pike.

Largemouth bass fishing in Manitoba

Manitoba largemouth bass

Largemouth bass are available to anglers and Manitoba. These bass prefer slower moving water stand do smallmouth. They can be found in rivers and streams, however they will be in the slower moving sections. Most largemouth bass caught in Manitoba will be done so in lakes. These fish are usually found near some type of structure such as fallen trees, weed beds, drop-offs, and man-made objects such as docs and bridges.

Most anglers fish for largemouth bass using artificial lures. Soft plastic baits are the number one offering. Plugs, spinner baits, spoons, and just about any other lure can produce largemouth bass as well. Anglers fishing with live bait will catch their share, too.

Anglers in Manitoba catching burbot

Manitoba burbot fishing

Burbot will never win a beauty contest. These fish are ugly and kind of “eel like”. However, they are excellent eating! Burbot are most often caught by accident, few anglers target them. They are found in deep water. Most burbot are landed by anglers ice fishing or deep jigging for walleye or lake trout.

Trout fishing in Manitoba

Manitoba and Alberta fishing tips

Brook trout and lake trout are available in Manitoba as well. Most lake trout are caught in the deep lakes in the northern region of Manitoba. Most lakers are caught by anglers in open water are done so trolling. Jigging produces in open water and through the ice. Brook trout are found in the lakes and remote streams up north as well. Anglers catch them on fly and using spinners and spoons.

Manitoba anglers catching panfish

Manitoba and Alberta fishing tips

Just as they are everywhere else in North America, pan fish are extremely popular and Manitoba as well. Crappy, sunfish, bluegill, and yellow perch are abundant and cooperative. They are all also excellent eating! In many cases, removing some of these fish from local waters can actually help the fishery.

Anglers targeting panfish do so using light spinning tackle most of the time. Ultralight outfits with 4 pound test monofilament line are used. Anglers cast tiny lures such as spinners and jigs to fool them. More panfish are probably caught by anglers using live or natural baits. Worms and minnows are most often used.

Many anglers ice fishing target panfish, especially yellow perch. These fish can all be caught through the ice using very light tackle. Cold water is very clear and the fish are a bit more lethargic. Anglers use tiny jigs often times tipped with a grub or other live bait. This is an extremely effective method to harvest panfish and anglers do not need a boat.

Fishing in Alberta, an Anglers guide

Alberta, Canada is an anglers paradise! Anglers fishing in Alberta have a wide variety of spots with fantastic scenery. Alberta offers a wide variety of freshwater game fish species along with a variety of techniques that can be used. The environments range from tiny streams to huge, open lakes. Many different trout species, northern pike, walleye, sturgeon, and other species are available. Anglers can cast lures and baits, troll, or fly fish for most of these species.

Fishing Ladies expert Kristen

walleye pike fishing

Follow Kristen on her angling adventures on IG

Kristen grew up on Vancouver island where her love for fishing was ignited. She started ocean fishing when she was 5 years old for fun with her dad and 2 older brothers. Kristen now lives in central Alberta, town of Lacombe. The same town that the famous Len Thompson lures are made. Most anglers have a “5 of diamonds” in their tackle box.

“I am a multi species angler and have a goal to catch every single fresh water species Alberta has in its water systems. So far I’m just about half way there. My favorite species to target are cutthroat trout in southern Alberta and tiger trout, rainbow trout, and lake trout in northern Alberta. My heart truly belongs to trout.”

Kristen is a brand ambassador

lake trout fishing tips

Kristen’s friend Andrew is an Alberta fishing guide has taken her under his wing over the last 6 months, taking Kristen on some great angling adventures. He is showing her all about fresh water fishing and getting her into the most beautiful fish Alberta has to offer. The proof is in the pictures!

Kristen is a brand ambassador for Lyman Lures, Rise Apparel, and Canadian Fishing Outfitters. Canadian made plug lures that work amazing for Lake trout and any game species but they are her “go to” lure for Lakers while using downriggers. Rise Apparel makes quality clothing and products for outdoor enthusiasts. Canadian Fishing Outfitters is a premier guide service in Alberta.

Alberta fishing tackle

Alberta fishing tips

Anglers fishing in Alberta have several choices when it comes to the best tackle to use. Most anglers cast lures using spinning tackle. Conventional outfits are best for trolling or bottom fishing in larger lakes and rivers. Fly fishing is favored by anglers fishing streams and rivers for trout.

Spin fishing tackle

Spinning tackle is versatile and easy to use. That is the primary reason that it is favored by many anglers. Tackle size varies according to the species being targeted. Kristen prefers to use a 6ft G Loomis fast action gl3 rod with Shimano Stradic 4000FJ. Her second choice is an Abu Garcia Accurist med heavy HSX 54 rod again matched with the 4000 Stradic. The reel is spooled with 20lb Power Pro braided line.

fishing for rainbow trout

These light spinning outfits can be used to cast light lures such as small spinners in streams when targeting trout. They are stout enough to cast a larger spoon in search of larger fish such as northern pike. Spinning tackle also works well for using live baits such as nightcrawlers.

Conventional tackle uses in Alberta

Many anglers enjoy trolling for large lake trout in the deep, clear Alberta lakes. Conventional outfits are well suited to this type of fishing. Casting is not needed. Kristen uses a 8 ft Shimano Talora rod with a Abu Garcia 6600sx reel combo when trolling for lakers. It is spooled up with 30-50 lb braided line.

Alberta fishing tips

Heavy conventional tackle is also the best option for anglers targeting sturgeon in rivers. These fish grow very large and stout tackle is mandatory. The best rod and reel combination for sturgeon fishing is also a Shimano Talora rod as it provides a sensitive tip where it is easy to see the bites. It is matched with an Abu Garcia 7001C reel and spooled up with 50 lb power pro braided line

Fly fishing tackle in Alberta

Fly fishing tackle will vary greatly depending on the species being targeted. Most anglers fly fishing in Alberta will be chasing some species of trout. However, they run the gamut in size from tiny brook trout to large rainbows and browns. A 5wt or 6wt outfit with a floating and intermediate sinking line is a good place to start.

Alberta creek, river, and lake fishing

top trout species

The three primary fishing areas in Alberta are creeks, rivers, and larger lakes. All three offer excellent fishing opportunities! However, tackle and tactics will be a bit different for each situation.

Creek fishing in Alberta

Small creeks are great fun to fish! While often times the fish are relatively small, an occasional trophy will be encountered. Also, since anglers are using very light tackle, the fish give a good account of themselves. Ultralight spinning tackle and light fly rods are the best choices when fishing small creeks. A 6′ spinning rod with 4 lb line works well. Fly anglers will opt for a 3 wt outfit with a floating line.

One great thing about fishing small creeks is that fish are easier to locate. There is simply less water in which to search. However, they can be spookier in the clear, shallow water. Top spots are eddies behind rocks and fallen timer, pools, holes on creek bends, and riffles. Top lures include small spinners and spoons. Small crankbaits such as the Rapala brown trout pattern CD-7 are effective as well. Most anglers use artificial lures or fly fish, but live worms and leeches produce fish as well.

Fishing Alberta rivers

The term “river” can be a broad one. A river can be a large meandering stream or a fast flowing beast. Most rivers in Alberta are in between and offer some excellent angling opportunities. Rivers will generally produce larger fish in deeper water with plenty of forage.

trout fishing

The same techniques and tackle that produce in smaller streams will also work well in rivers. The main difference is that anglers will need to bump the tackle up a bit. Medium spinning outfits and 6wy fly outfits work well. Larger lures and flies will also be used. Spinners, spoons, and shallow diving plugs are the top artificial lures. Nightcrawlers and leeches are the best natural baits.

Lake fishing in Alberta

Lake fishing is very productive in Alberta. Some of the largest game fish will be found in the pristine area lakes. Most species of trout will be caught in the lakes or the waters entering or exiting the lakes. Anglers can fish from the banks, though they are obviously limited. Boaters can troll, cast the bank, or drift fish for a variety of species.

There are many great lakes for fishing in Alberta. Generally speaking, the best lakes are in the northern part of Alberta. Obviously, with it being in Canada, ice fishing is extremely popular and effective in the winter. The same species that are caught in summer can be taken through the ice in the winter.

Top fishing spots in Alberta, Canada

Alberta has an abundance of great spots to fish for trout and other species. The list is long, with the North Saskatchewan River, South Saskatchewan River, Cold Lake, Bow River, Lower and Upper Kananakis Lakes, Slave Lake, Winefred Lake, Gull Lake, and Pigeon Lake being some top spots. Lake Athabasca is world renowned for giant lake trout.

Top Alberta game fish species

Alberta offers anglers some excellent fishing for cold water species in freshwater. These include brook trout, lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, tiger trout, bull trout, and cutthroat trout. Other species include northern pike, sturgeon, walleye, grayling, and whitefish.

Brook trout

Brook trout are found in both streams and smaller lakes. They average 12-15 inches but brookies to 2 feel long are caught regularly. The best lures for catching brook trout in Alberta are tube jigs, small Panther Martin spinners, and smaller crank baits. Worms are the top live bait. Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park would be top destination.

One great aspect of targeting Alberta brook trout is the unique color patterns that they display. They are found moderately across the province. Anglers are have opportunities to fish brook trout as per the stocking program. There are multiple places that have them stocked. Emerald lake for example.

Rainbow trout

Rainbow trout are an extremely popular species that are found throughout the region. Trout that average a foot or so are found in many small streams. Larger fish are taken in the big lakes by anglers trolling. Rainbow trout have a varied diet and feed on a wide variety of fish, crustaceans, and insects. The Bow River is the top spot in Alberta for targeting rainbow trout.

Small lures such as spinners, plugs, and spoons work well on rainbow trout. They can be taken on a variety of live baits along with eggs and commercial baits. Large spoons and plugs produce big fish in larger, deep lakes.

Brown trout

Brown trout are another popular trout species that flourishes in Alberta. They feed on insects when young and then switch over to foraging on bait fish as they mature. Most big brown trout are caught by anglers casting or trolling plugs, spoons, and spinners. Top area for brown trout would be the Bow River system. There are also many stocked lakes in the province that provide opportunities to catch brown trout.

Lake Trout

Lake trout grow very large and are mostly caught in the deep, cold lakes in Alberta. These fish average 20 pounds but grow to over 50 pounds. Trolling is by far the most effective method used to land lake trout. Large plugs and spoons are the top lures as they mimic the bait fish that lakers feed on. Kristen does very well trolling Lyman Lures.

The best lakes for catching lake trout in Alberta are Cold lake and Lake Athabasca. Lake Alberta can produce lake trout as well The best times of year

Cutthroat trout

Cutthroat trout, or “cutty’s” are found in several Alberta lakes and rivers. The best lures for fooling cutthroat trout are XXXXX, and XXXXXX. They are using found in riffles and eddies as well as fallen trees.

Top spots for anglers looking to catch cutthroat trout in Alberta are the Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lakes as well as the Old Man River, Ram River, and Peace River.

Bull Trout

Top spots for targeting bull trout in Alberta are the Red Deer River, Highwood River, Clearwater River, Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lakes, and the Bow River.

Tiger trout

Top tiger trout spots in Alberta are the Black Nugget River, Blood Indian Reservoir, Chain lakes, and East Twin Lake.

Walleye

Walleye are one of the most popular freshwater game fish in North America. While they put up a decent little tussle, they are prized more for their snow-white delicate fillets. Walleye are mostly target by anglers fishing in lakes, though they are also caught in rivers as well. Trolling and drifting are the two most effective techniques.

Walleye feed close to the bottom near structure. Submerged rocks, timber, and drop offs will all hold walleye. Anglers present their baits close to the bottom and at a slower pace. North Saskatchewan River , Lac la Biche, Pigion Lake, Wabamun Lake, Gull Lake, Marie Lake, and Slave Lake are top walleye spots in Alberta.

Northern Pike

Northern pike are an aggressive species that is found in lakes and river systems. Pike prefer shallow, weedy bays with little current. They are voracious feeders and will attack almost anything when hungry. Larger lures and heavier tackle are often required. Spoons are a top lure, as are spinners and plugs. Live bait fish such as suckers will fool trophy pike.

Sturgeon

Sturgeon are found in Alberta in a couple of large river systems. The main rivers that provide the most success for anglers in regards to lake sturgeon is the North Saskatchewan River and the South Saskatchewan River. Surgeon are also found in other river system like the Bow River, but the opportunities for anglers are not as plentiful.

Most sturgeon are caught by anglers bottom fishing with heavy tackle. These fish grow quite large and stout tackle is required, particularly in heavy current. The best baits are cut sucker and chub.

In conclusion, this article, Fishing in Alberta, an Anglers Guide, will helo both resident and visiting anglers catch more fish!

In conclusion, this article on Manitoba and Alberta fishing tips should help anglers catch more fish when visiting this great area. Anglers can find Manitoba fishing regulations and more information on the government site, HERE.

Women Bass Fishing, Tournament Tips

Women Bass Fishing, Tournament Tips from Meleah, Katie, and Stacy

Women Bass Fishing, Tournament Tips is an article combining some great bass fishing tips, tackle, and techniques. It features three women that fish competitive bass tournaments, Meleah, Katie, and Stacy. They are different ages and in Oklahoma, Florida, and California. Enjoy their journies and stories along with the great bass fishing information!

Oklahoma bass fishing Tips and Techniques

This articleon women bass fishing  shares some awesome Oklahoma tips. Oklahoma offers anglers excellent opportunities to catch not only largemouth bass, but smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and striped bass. Largemouth bass is king in Oklahoma, just as it is throughout the rest of the country. Anglers fishing tournaments target them over the smallmouth and spotted bass, simply because they are generally heavier. However, having the option to target the other species on a tough day is nice.  

Meleah Meadows lives in Norman, Oklahoma, and knows her state waters well. Meleah is a bass tournament angler, having fished in several B.A.S.S. Qualifying and ABA events. She is a well-rounded angler and is generous enough to share her knowledge and experience on Oklahoma bass fishing with us here today.

Oklahoma bass fishing tackle

Bass anglers need several different outfits in order to be successful in Oklahoma, and everywhere else. A 7′ medium action baitcaster with 12 pound braid is great for crankbaits and jerkbaits. Medium and heavy baitcasting outfits with braid or flourocarbon line work well for flipping docks and heavy cover, along with working Carolina rigs in deep water. A spinning rod with 10 pound flourocarbon line works well with lighter baits such as a shaky head. Meleah prefers to use Falcon or G. Loomis rods with a Shimano reel.  

The best piece of advice Meleah gives to anglers bass fishing in Oklahoma waters is to be adaptable to the ever-changing conditions. It is not unheard of for a morning to be below freezing then warm up to the mid 80’s. This year in particular was challenging. The unpredictable weather made it difficult to develop reliable patterns. Spots that were productive one day were a muddy mess the next. Speaking of water color, Meleah prefers moderately stained water as it prefers a little camouflage for the line and bait.

Oklahoma has a lot of red dirt. This can turn the water the color of chocolate milk. Some anglers like it dirty but it can make fishing tough as it is difficult for bass to locate forage.   Fishing in clear water brings it’s own challenges. Lighter line and tackle may be required. Anglers using braid will have to add a flourocarbon leader to make their offering less visible to the fish. Most Oklahoma lakes are stained, with Tenkiller and Lake Murray being the exceptions.

Oklahoma bass fishing tips; winter

Winter bass fishing in Oklahoma can certainly be challenging. Anglers will catch fewer bass, but the ones they do catch are usually nice ones. Weather will test any angler’s determination and resolve. It gets cold! Bass are cold blooded, which means their body temperature will be the same as the water temperature. Bass do not need to eat much or often when their metabolism is so slow.   Anglers targeting Oklahoma bass in the winter need to scale down their baits and fish SLOW! And by slow, that means painfully slow.

Generally, jigs and jerkbaits will produce some fish. Bass will school up in deep water on the submerged river channel edges, especially with cover. Sometimes these fish will suspend and can be tough to catch. Several sunny days may warm up the shallows enough for fish to move up on and feed a bit. Anglers still need to fish extremely slowly. However, persistent anglers can be rewarded with some quality fish this time of year. And, they will have the water all to themselves!

Oklahoma bass fishing in spring

  Spring: spring will find the bass moving up shallow in preparation for their annual spawning. Meleah prefers a spinnerbait for spring Oklahoma bass fishing, especially for pre-spawn fish. It allows her to cover a lot of water relatively quickly. It is also a very versatile lure. Her favorite spinnerbait is manufactured by War Eagle. Her second choice, and first choice when seeking a trophy bass, is a swimbait. This lure is worked slowly, usually with a steady retrieve.

A swimbait does not cover as much water as a spinnerbait, but it will tempt larger fish. A 6 inch bait works well, but anglers seeking a trophy bass will use a bait as long as 10 inches. Meleah prefers to toss a swimbait on an Owner flashy spinner.   Soft plastic baits certainly produce for Oklahoma bass anglers. This is particularly true when fish are located or up on the beds. A Texas rigged plastic worm or creature bait slowly worked through the shallows will produce fish. Other productive baits are a wacky rig or a fluke, either weighted or unweighted.

Summertime Oklahoma bass fishing tips

Summer bass fishing can be challenging. Water temperatures will rise up, approaching 80 degrees. While bass move deep, Oklahoma lakes stratify. At times, there simply is not enough oxygen in the deeper water. When this occurs, the best spots are docks and brush piles in water 8 feet deep to 20 feet deep are usually the best spots to fish. Dusk, dawn, and night are the best times to avoid the heat and catch fish.   Meleah has a two-pronged approach when Oklahoma bass fishing in summertime. She likes to fish a Carolina rig deep.

River channel edges and bends with cover are prime spots. Anglers will encounter large schools of spotted bass at this time of year. Locating one of these schools of spots in deep water can result in fast action! The other pattern Meleah employs in the summer is to flip a soft plastic bait or jig under a dock or some shoreline shade in deeper water. Docks in 10 feet to 15 feet of water are ideal. The further back under the dock the bait can be presented, the better chance for a bite. Top baits are spinnerbaits and tubes.

Oklahoma bass fishing, fall strategies

Meleah loves fall bass fishing! As the water cools, the bass move up and are in the mood to feed. She enjoys power fishing in water around 3 feet deep or shallower with a Jackhammer Chatterbait. A shallow diving crankbait such as a Lucky Craft or Rapala works well, too. Meleah uses a medium action rod and light line to maximize the fun. However, she keeps a heavy outfit with a jig tied on when it is time to slow down.   Rip Rap near bridges is an excellent spot to target fall bass in Oklahoma. The rocks hold crawfish and bait fish, which in turn attracts the game fish.

Topwater baits such as Whopper Ploppers, frogs, and buzzbaits are great fun first thing in the morning! Other productive fall spots include flats and coves. Oklahoma largemouth bass anglers have many options when choosing a place to fish. Meleah’s favorite lakes are Texoma, Tenkiller, and Murray. Other productive bass lakes include Grand and Eufaula.

Oklahoma smallmouth bass

  Smallmouth bass: Oklahoma smallmouth bass are most often targeted in the eastern Oklahoma Ozark and Ouachita stream systems. Smallies prefer clear, running water with a gravel bottom. Stream smallmouth bass are a lot like trout. They take up ambush spots in the current, places where they can dart out and grab their prey while expending as little energy as possible.

Eddies behind rocks, heads of pools and rapids, and deep holes in outside bends are all top spots. Baits that imitate crawfish such as olive, orange, rootbeer, and black jigs along with small crankbaits work well. Live nightcrawlers, minnows, and crayfish will certainly produce as well. Smallmouth bass are found in Oklahoma lakes as well.

The best lakes to target them are Grand, Tenkiller, Murray, Eufaula, Texoma and Broken Bow. Smallmouth in lakes prefer similar habitat to spotted bass. Steep, rocky shorelines, points that drop off, and rip rap are prime spots for smallmmouth bass. Oklahoma offers anglers some world class river smallmouth bass fishing! The top spots include the Mountain Fork River, Illinois River, Glover River, Blue River, Little River, Baron Fork Creek, Arkansas River, Lee Creek, Kiamichi River, and Spavinaw Creek.

Oklahoma spotted bass

  Spotted Bass: Oklahoma spotted bass prefer cleaner water than largemouth bass. They are mostly found in these types of waters in Eastern Oklahoma. Spotted bass also prefer more current than largemouth bass and are often found in streams and small rivers. Crayfish make up the majority of their diet, so rocky bottoms and shorelines are prime spots.

Spotted bass will often be found schooled up in deep water. Smaller finesse baits work well on a drop shot or Carolina rig. Spotted bass are a great “backup plan” for anglers in tournaments having a tough time on largemouth bass. The best Oklahoma spotted bass lakes are Tenkiller and Texoma.

Oklahoma striped bass

  Striped bass: striped bass and hybrids (a striped bass white bass cross breed) are a bit different in habit than the other bass species. Stripers are an open water fish. While they do relate to structure such as river channel edges and drop offs, they mostly feed on shad and other bait fish in open water. Striped bass fishing is also excellent in the tailwaters of several dams. Lake Eufaula, Texoma, and Murray are great spots. Striped bass require running water to spawn. Several state records were landed in these types of tailwater fisheries.

Striped bass can be taken using a variety of techniques. Trolling with lures or live bait is efficient when they are schooled up in deep water. Striped bass will move shallow to feed in cooler weather and are often incidental catches by largemouth and smallmouth bass anglers. As stated above, rivers are excellent spots to target striped bass. In conclusion, hopefully this article on Oklahoma bass fishing tips provided some great information that will help both resident and visiting anglers enjoy success! Anglers visiting Oklahoma can find current fishing regulations on state site.

Women bass fishing, catching Florida winter bass

This article will focus on women bass fishing features Katie catching Florida winter bass. Largemouth bass spawn in Florida in winter. Sight fishing produces some of the largest bass of the year.

women bass fishing

Largemouth bass are the most popular fish in the country. They are targeted by millions of anglers in every state in the lower 48. The Florida strain of largemouth bass grow the largest of all bass. These fish have been transplanted in Texas, California, and other states. Many anglers from all over the world travel to Florida in winter in search of atrophy bass!

“Winter” is a relative term, especially when discussing Florida. The northern part of the state experiences seasonal changes. The southern part of Florida experiences cold fronts but still stays pretty nice for most of the year. The “calendar” is a bit different in different parts of the state. However, just about every part of Florida offers anglers the chance to catch a trophy bass in winter.

Fishing Lady Katie Jackson

Katie Jackson is our Fishing Ladies north Florida bass expert. She is an accomplished tournament angler and is a bass fishing guide at an exclusive resort in north Florida. She is generous enough to share her knowledge and experience with us in this article.

women bass fishing, tournament tips

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“I grew up in north central Florida. I started fishing as a child. On the weekends we would go out to the flats in the Gulf of Mexico and see what we can catch. Or, we would go to the Santa Fe and Suwannee River for large mouth bass, pan fish and our local Suwannee bass.

“I started fishing tournaments around 2010 and qualified for the 2013 FLW BFL All American, being only the second woman to ever qualify. I’ve been a bass fishing guide at Bienville Plantation in White Springs for a few years and I’m their only female fishing guide. I love traveling to new places, fishing unknown waters and exploring the outdoors. My sponsors are Lew’s, TightlinesUV, FishBomb scent, BienvillePlantation, Popticals, Eco-Popper.

Florida tournament bass fishing

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“Florida strain bass are pretty particular when it comes to cold fronts during the winter months here in Florida. As the water starts to cool in November and December, the shad are moving. I scan areas using my electronics to find balls of bait and determine what depths they are at.

Catching Florida winter bass, baits

Then, I like to use hard jerk baits and my favorite swim bait, Tightlines UVSow Belly Swimmer. It has a built in skirt which flares while pausing a retrieve (That’s when they tend to grab it). These baits tend to stay in the strike zone to entice more bites. Sometimes a lipless and regular crank bait will call them out. and my big fish tip? I tend to catch bigger bass when the pockets or creek mouths I’m fishing are near deeper water.

“In South Florida, the bass start to spawn in November. As soon the water gets into the 60’s, start looking for some beds. Sometimes they can even spawn 2 times a year!

Florida bass bedding seasons

Where I’m located, in Northern Florida, bass beds begin to become visible in December with peak bedding in about Feb-March depending on how the weather is going. Which usually means an extreme cold front just in time for guiding or weekend tournaments. But that’s the outdoors! Fingers crossed that Mother Nature decides to play along.

Women bass fishing tips

“I love bedding season! Sight fishing is so much fun! I fish a lot of clear water and it’s exciting to be able to see all of the bass, even if I can’t get them to bite. This time of year I also get great footage using my Eco-Popper (top water fishing lure that has a built in HD camera). It’s real time footage, so it helps me scout the water for beds and get cool video to share with my friends and sponsors. Plus, it catches fish!

“Another technique that is very effective this time of year is a drop shot. Again, I use a Tightlines UV bait or at least spray Bait Bomb UV scent on it because it looks more natural and the bass can be skittish in the shallow, clear water. My other “go to” techniques is a lighter weighted Petey Rig (better for darker water where you can cast and drag through beds) and wacky rig pitching to beds. Remember to be as quiet as you can and watch your shadows.

Catching Florida winter bass, best lakes

“At Bienville Plantation in White Springs Florida, where I guide, one lake we have has over 1k miles of shore line. Here I find bass beds tucked along the banks under branches and on humps in the middle of big pools. The excitement on clients faces (usually not fishermen) when they experience sight fishing for the first time is contagious! That’s one (of many things) I love about fishing.

women bass fishing in Florida

“My top 3 lakes to fish in Florida are Lake Toho, Lake Harris and Okeechobee. They have some of the biggest bass I’ve ever seen and you just never know when that big one will be tugging on the line. I’m always eager to see what weights come to the scales during tournaments. Heavy hitters here in Florida make for some great competition.

I love being out on the water. Fishing for fun, guiding or competing in tournaments,the day is sure to be an adventure. I never truly know what may happen or what I will see but I will find out!”

Lake Toho

West Lake Tohopekaliga,better known as Lake Toho, is located adjacent to the City of Kissimmee in central Florida. This 18,810-acre lake is well known throughout the angling community for producing excellent fishing for numbers of bass as well as trophy largemouth bass.

Most anglers target trophy bass in the winter and early spring on Lake Toho. Live golden shiners are very popular in fairly easy for the novice angler to use. A live shiner fished under a float near vegetation and hydrilla will do well. The above-mentioned artificial lures catch plenty of bass, two

The most reliable spot for bass fishing on Lake Toho are North Steer Beach, Lanier Point, Little Grassy Island and Goblet’s Cove. Shingle Creek and St. Cloud Canal(C-31) are good spots when we’ve had a little rain and water is flowing through. There are also eight artificial fish attractors that have been placed in the deeper part of the lake. These are good spots to try during the summer. Five boat ramps, to fish camps, and a marina offer anglers access to the lake.

Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee, or the“Big O” as it is affectionately called, is Florida’s largest lake. It is also the second largest lake in the continental United States. Lake Okeechobee sits in the south central part of the state. It basically creates the Everglades. It is a large, weedy, shallow body of water that offers excellent bass fishing all year long.

Anglers fishing Lake Okeechobee use multiple techniques successfully. Artificial lures are favored by many as they allow anglers to cover the water and eliminate unproductive spots. The combination of dense weeds in open water leaves anglers a choice of baits they like to cast for bass. Anglers can choose to use live golden shiners as well.

Lake Okeechobee is huge and can be intimidating. A great starting point is the area on the west central side of the lake near Lakeport. Reliable spots on Lake Okeechobee are South Bay, the Shoal, Monkey Box, Harney Pond and the North Shore. Public boat ramps and marinas are available at several locations on the lake.

Lake Harris

Lake Harris is 8 miles long, 6 miles wide, and is located in central Florida in Lake County. It is roughly 15,000 acres. It averages 10 feet deep with a 2230 feet trough along the southern shore. The lake has abundant aquatic vegetation such as Kissimmee grass, reeds, pads, grass, and cattails. Most of the productive areas with vegetation are and 5 feet of water or less.

The top spots to catch largemouth bass and Lake Harris are Helena Run, Lake Denham, the entrance to the Palatlaka River, Springs in underwater humps in Yalaha, long island, Green Cove, and the mouth of the Dead River. Shallow, weedy areas are best and winter and spring while the deeper offshore humps and channels are better in the heat of summer.

In Conclusion, this article on our Fishing Ladies catching Florida winter bass should help anglers catch more fish during spawn and beyond.

Women bass fishing, Joining a Bass Club, by Stacy Barawed

I still remember the first time I’d heard about the Folsom Bass Team.  In the fall of 2017, I noticed a flyer hanging in the communal kitchen of our office building; I can’t recall the exact verbiage, but it must have read something like, “Ever thought of joining a bass club?” or “Do you enjoy fishing?” or “Hey girl, are you looking for a new way to spend your money?”  Whatever it was, it sure caught my eye. 

women bass fishing, tournament tips

A couple of weeks later, I received a private message through Fishbrain, which is largely regarded as “Instagram for anglers”.  The message was from Michael Allen, a fellow tenant, Fishbrainer, and tournament angler who thought the club might be a great way for me to expand my horizons and meet some like-minded individuals.  At the time, I had only been fishing for about a year, and only in ponds and very small lakes.   What could I possibly contribute to a club?  A source of ridicule and laughter?  I politely (hopefully) declined and didn’t give it another thought for months.
 
Once Spring rolled around and I was having more success, I thought about the club again.  Our building managers throw a Cinco de Mayo festival each year for their tenants, so I messaged Michael to find out if he’d be there.  He said yes, and we ended up chatting about fishing and the club for nearly an hour, getting sunburned while shoving down complimentary street tacos and margaritas.

First meeting

I attended my first monthly club meeting as his guest that following June, and felt welcomed almost immediately.  Meetings are held at a Round Table Pizza on the west side of Folsom – more specifically, in the back of that restaurant inside a large banquet room emblazoned with Dallas Cowboys signage.  Not strange at all for California, right? Club business was discussed before an awards presentation was held for the previous month’s tournament. 
 
The winners took turns summarizing their experiences on the water, from weather to boating mishaps to baits and lures they had used (that is, if they chose to reveal them).  Trophies and checks were distributed, handshakes were exchanged, and photos were snapped.  Lots of pizza was consumed.  It was all so exciting!   We didn’t have a guest speaker that month, so we moved right into the drawing for the July tournament to be held at Lake Amador. 
 
The process sealed the deal for me: I learned that the club hosts monthly team tournaments, matching boaters and non-boaters through a random draw.  I didn’t need to own a boat!  Plus, the random draw helps to level the playing field as members’ skills run the gamut from beginner (me) to folks who’ve been fishing for over fifty years (not me).

Competitive fishing

And with that, I began my foray into competitive fishing…sort of.  With only two regular tournaments left in the season (which runs October to September), along with the final Tournament of Champions, I wasn’t about to enter the mix this late and cost someone points and possibly their Angler of the Year title.  But, I still attended the meetings so I could get to know my fellow club members a little better and congratulate those who had done well (or not) throughout the season.
 
At our club meeting on Wednesday, October 3rd, I officially threw my hat into the ring to fish my first bass tournament at Lake Berryessa.  I paid my club dues for the 2018-2019 season, filled out my entry slip, and paid my tournament fee. Then came the drawing.  It turned out that there were more non-boaters than boaters signed up this time – one too many, to be exact.  And since I was the low (wo)man on the totem pole, I was the first and only alternate. 
 
I could be called to fill in if any other non-boater had to cancel – and unfortunately, this could happen any time between the drawing and the Friday preceding the tournament!  I had to be ready to substitute in at any moment. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait long.  During the drive home, I received a text from Jerry “BassKing” Lawler, our club’s Tournament Director. “Stacy, we have a boater for you.”
 

My first fishing experience, by Stacy Barawed

People often ask me how I began fishing.  For most of my life, I haven’t been the “outdoorsy” type by any means; with the exception of school-sponsored Science Camp, I’ve never spent the night surrounded by nature, nor have I shown much interest in any activity that might get my clothes dirty.  However, all of that changed a couple of summers ago.
 
For a few weeks, my family had toyed with the idea of gathering together for a day of fishing.  My stepdad had fished all of his life on the California Delta, my boyfriend fished with his father on occasion growing up, and my brother was just getting into the sport. We decided to meet up at a park close to my home in Northern California on Sunday, July 16, 2016. And so it began. If memory serves me correctly, I was far more interested in the pink box of donuts my mom had brought with her rather than the actual act of fishing.   It was a mild and picturesque July morning and I was relaxed and comfortable in my tube top and flip flops.  
 
My mom and sister-in-law settled beneath the shade of an enormous oak tree, taking turns checking our progress and keeping an eye on my 6-year-old niece, who was chasing geese and ducks. I sat down on a soft patch of grass, threw my line in, propped up my fishing pole between my legs, and dove into an apple fritter…and maybe a maple bar as well. I’m not quite sure what I expected to happen next.  After all, I’d never caught a fish before!  So I just waited.  And waited.  And WAITED.  No luck. 
 
The only person catching anything was my stepdad, who had commandeered the only small dock on the pond.  He remained very quiet and didn’t move much unless he was reeling in his line or casting it out.  Was that the secret?  I wasn’t sure, but every 15 minutes or so he’d be showing off his catch. Eventually the bite died down; and since we’d depleted our donut supply, it was time to grab a quick sushi lunch (obviously) before heading to our next spot.
 
By the time we wrapped up lunch, the sun was blazing.  July in Sacramento can be oppressively warm, so we headed to a small collection of lakes nestled within a quiet neighborhood with big trees that would provide some relief from the sun.  Here, I was determined to catch a fish.  Again, my stepdad was on a roll, hooking bluegill and baby bass with minimal effort.  In the meantime, it was getting hotter and hotter.  I threw my hair into a ponytail and planted myself in an area with some weeds and grass because “that’s where the fish hang out”.  Because worms were dirty (ick!), I somehow convinced someone to put one on my hook for me.   
 
I threw my line in, gave my pole a little wiggle, and then felt…something. I watched my line move away from me, and I froze.  What now? “Set the hook!” my boyfriend screeched.  I gave my pole a quick yank, and felt an immediate fight on the other end.  “It’s a good one!” I exclaimed, thrilled and super eager to see what felt like a 5-pound dumbbell on the other end of my line.  Carefully, I reeled it in to avoid breaking my line – after all, this was my first fish!  I didn’t want to ruin the moment!  At this point, my entire family was watching. The fish took a quick turn and diverted into the weeds, and I was afraid my line would get tangled – or worse – snap. 
 
My boyfriend stepped into the weeds to save it, and his smile slowly drained from his face.  I hadn’t snagged a “good one” at all, or even a fish for that matter – just a poor, unsuspecting turtle.  Even worse, the hook was set so far back into its shell that we couldn’t even remove it for fear of injuring the turtle.  We cut the line and let the little guy free and watched him swim away with a hook inside him.   Follow Stacy on Instagram By that time, temperatures were close to 100 degrees so we called it a day. After this fateful Sunday, my interest in fishing could have gone one of two ways: I could have given up completely, having nothing to brag about after 6 hours (besides a really great tan), or I could have resolved to keep trying.
 
Luckily, I’m not a quitter.  Millions of people catch fish, so why couldn’t I?   What was my stepdad doing that I wasn’t doing?   These thoughts that were swirling inside my head, coupled with my competitive nature and the elation I felt when I hooked that turtle, were enough to convince me to go home and begin my lifelong journey to learn everything I could about the sport.
 
Without a doubt, I’ve learned a lot since that afternoon.  YouTube videos, magazines, trade shows, and chatting with fellow fishermen on social media platforms like Fishbrain, Instagram, and Facebook have helped me improve my skills immensely.  I’ve even joined my local bass club – and with fellow members who have fished for 30, 40, or even more than 50 years, there are several lifetimes of information for me to soak up.  With all of these resources at my fingertips, I can’t wait to see what unfolds during the next two years!   But first: a donut run.

 

 

Fishing Texas Lakes and Rivers

Fishing Texas Lakes and Rivers

This article on fishing Texas lakes and rivers will help anglers catch more fish, especially catfish and gar. These fish grow very large and put up a terrific fight. Also, anyone can do this. Other than heavy tackle, special gear is really not required. Kayaks and canoes are the vessels of choice. Anglers fishing from the bank catch plenty of fish as well.

Fishing the Trinity River Texas for catfish and gar

The subject of this blog post will be fishing the Trinity River Texas for catfish and gar. Catfish are an extremely popular freshwater game fish in the United States. They have a very wide range and are found all over the world. Catfish, especially trophy cats, are apex predators. They sometimes get a bad rap for eating garbage on the bottom. However, in most instances, they prefer live prey.

fishing for catfish

The three primary, and largest, species of catfish in the United States are blue catfish, channel catfish, and flathead or yellow catfish. All three are found throughout large portions of the country. Channel cats are the most plentiful in the smallest. Flathead catfish grow the largest. Blue cats also grow large, over 100 pounds, and their range is spreading.

Most catfish are caught by anglers fishing the Trinity River do so using live bait, cut bait, or commercially prepared catfish baits on the bottom. Catfish are bottom dwellers and that is where they do most of their feeding. They will come up in the water column at times. They prefer some type of structure such as a ledge, submerged timber, or man-made structure such as bridge pilings or docks.

fishing for blue catfish

For many anglers, targeting catfish is a casual, relaxing enterprise. Catfish can be caught from banks of lakes and rivers, easily accessible to the public. Anglers can also target catfish from boats. Anchoring an outside bends in river channels, near submerged structure, and in tailwaters produces plenty of catfish. However, this is not the approach that Lacey takes!

Extreme fishing on Texas rivers!

Lacey Miller is our correspondent for this piece. She grew up in a small town in northern California and moved to the Dallas, Texas area five years ago. Lacey does NOT take the easy route and her pursuit of trophy catfish! She is sharing her experiences and techniques for fishing the Trinity River with us here.

Fishing Texas lakes and rivers

“We mainly fish central Dallas & North of Dallas, lakes and the Trinity River, often times enduring extreme weather, sometimes for 36 hours straight. I’ve been fishing my whole life, moved to Texas about 5 years ago and changed my fishing game! I was fishing there in boats, here we fish extreme places. I take long hikes into the fishing holes when bank fishing.

Fishing the Trinity River Texas

On the Trinity we usually kayak about a 15 mile stretch, staying the night somewhere on the water. We pack in as much gear we can fit on the kayak. Then, we start our journey and drift down river, stopping to fish when we see a promising spot. We have encountered many of the river creatures such as gators, snakes, hogs, and beaver while staying on the water.

bank fishing

In late afternoon I stop and build a shelter with whatever the earth has provided and we hunker down for the nights catch. We prepare a meal and then fish all night. That is when the big girls are on the prowl! Most times it is a test of strength I’m still the only female that I know who has endured a 36 hr trip on the Trinity.

This year we decided to start running guided trips on the Trinity during the summer. It is a unique experience that I would like to share with other adventurous anglers. We are going to offer day trips next year, for those that don’t wish to primitive camp, but still want a chance at an alligator gar.

Texas fishing lakes and rivers

During the winter we fish local lakes for trophy catfish. At times, I fish through the night in 30° weather. It is hit or miss on the fishing with all the rain. Most places are flooded & we wait on swampy shorelines for the bite. I am pro catch & release with catfish and alligator gar. I do everything possible to ensure the fish survive and are released back into the water they came from.

Trinity River catfish and gar tackle

The tackle required when targeting large catfish and gar is fairly heavy. This is not the place for finesse fishing! Lacey has landed catfish to an estimated 50 pounds in the Trinity River and surrounding rivers and lakes. Fish that large are hard to weigh! Her choice is a medium heavy conventional outfit. She likes a 7-10 foot rod (though some anglers prefer rods up to 12 feet) and a casting real loaded with 80 pound braided line for catfish and 150 pound braid for gar. Here is a good conventional outfit at a reasonable price. Click on the link to shop,

Lacey has been using a heavy spinning outfit of late. This is mainly due to the fact that spinning outfits are easier for clients to cast and manage. She likes a Penn Fierce 8000 live liner reel on a stout rod. Below is a link to an 8000 reel on a 10′ rod at a great price. Anglers can click on the link to shop.

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon”

The rig is as simple and basic as the tackle. A bottom bouncing rig works best. This consists of a 4 ounce no roll type sinker. The sinker has a hole in it, allowing the line to pass through. A swivel is then tied on. This provides a stop for the sinker as well as a way to attach the leader. A 10” piece of 80 pound braided line leader is attached to the swivel. A size 6/0 Kahle catfish hook completes the rig. For gar she a uses 12” steel leader and a 5/0 bronze treble hook.

fishing for catfish

As with all fishing, you never know what to catfish and gar one from one day to the other. If she had to choose one bait to use year-round, Lacey would use buffalo fish. Carp and shad are also productive baits for catching fish. The “big bait equals big fish”theory definitely applies here. Lacey will oftentimes use a very large bait to target a big fish. She understands that she won’t get a lot of action, but when she does, it will be a trophy.

Conditions position fish on Texas Rivers

Conditions are very important when fishing rivers. The height of the water along with the clarity and current speed will dictate fish locations. When the water is high, fast, and muddy, catfish will seek refuge from the strong current. They will position themselves in sloughs and eddies off of the main channel where possible. It is just not efficient for them to fight the strong current while waiting for a meal to come by.

Conversely, when the water is low, fish will stage in the deeper holes. This is particularly true in the heat of summer. There simply is not enough water on the flats near the banks for them to get up and feet and feel comfortable.

Fishing Texas Rivers, techniques

Lacey has some simple advice for anglers new to fishing for river catfish;

“I tell novice anglers fishing the Trinity River that if they want to catch a catfish, the easiest thing to do is target outside bends in the river channel. Current almost always gouges out a deeper hole in these areas. Also cover such as fallen timber and other debris tends to collect in these areas. The depth, cover, and current make these outside bends ideal habitat for catfish and other species.”

fishing Texas lakes and rivers

While catfish can be caught during the middle of the day, and many are, dusk, Don, and night are the best times to target catfish. This is especially true for anglers seeking a trophy fish. This is one of the huge advantages of overnight camping, once anglers get settled in late afternoon, they can fish the evening bite and is late into the night as they want. Then in the morning, they are all set up and ready to go to catch one early. Hard-core anglers such as Lacey stay up all night and fish, but taking a nap in the middle of the night is okay, too.

Fishing for gar on the Trinity River

Lacey also likes to target trophy gar. While gar can be taken using the same baits and locations as catfish, there are a few tweaks she makes when targeting gar. Here are her tips on catching these prehistoric fish.

“Alligator Gar fishing: I believe they are harder to land than other fish! They have a mouth/teeth like an Alligator & will cut thru the line, this is why we use steel leader. They grab your bait (which is like one or two big taps on your line) and then they run (my favorite part because the Penn reel is screaming!!) until they find a good spot and begin swallowing the bait.

fishing Texas lakes and rivers

“This is quiet time, you will think you’ve lost the fish. Once they’ve swallowed the bait, which can be minutes later, they continue on their way. This is when some will “set the hook” which is not your typical hook setting. It’s more like your entire body weight thrown the opposite direction of your bait to counter the fish. We prefer to set the hook during the first initial run. By doing this the gar will not swallow the hook & chance for survival is greater.

Once hook is set the fight begins. ( I literally moved to Texas after fighting my first gar while on vacation here from California. I hooked the biggest fish to date I’ve had on rod& reel; we named her Big Sally. After fighting her for almost 2 hours, she jumped our of the water about 4′ from shore & spit the hook right at my feet. Many times the gar spit the bait or snap the line with their teeth. Making a landed gar that much more exciting!

Other Texas rivers and lakes

Lacey’s favorite water to fish is the Trinity River. This River starts an extreme north Texas and flows for 710 miles. The stretch of river that Lacey finds the most productive and enjoyable to fish is from the heart of Dallas all the way down to East of Ennis Texas. We also have permission from land owners giving us exclusive access to many untouched parts of the river.

river fishing in Texas

While Lacey prefers the Trinity River, several area lakes and reservoirs offer anglers good fishing for catfish and other species. Cedar Creek Lake, Lake Tawakoni and Richland Chambers Reservoir are her top three lakes.

Lake Conroe Fishing Tips with “Guppy”.

This article shares some great Lake Conroe fishing tips along with the adventures of Rachelle in the world of fishing and conservation.

Rachelle, graciously nicknamed “Guppy Doyle” is a “Jill of All Trades” with a true Texas heart. After serving 8 years in the fire department, completing pre-med, and obtaining a degree in Emergency Medical Care from Texas A&M University, she handed over her stethoscope and traded it for a fishing pole to help a good friend launch his business.

This was unknowingly the beginning of their love story. Just a couple of friends teaming up to launch a successful business, love bloomed between mixing bait and researching the legalities of trade secrets vs. patents.

Catfish products and services from Guppy

While she still enjoys challenging herself with clinical research in her free time, her days are full of running Catfish Bubblegum, Bradley’s Bite Enhancer, and Bradley’s Guide Service from the inside. She also organizes children’s fishing events for Texas Trophy Catfish Association.

catfish fishing

Guppy fishes out of destination Lake Conroe, a 21,000-acre lake in Montgomery County, Texas. Extending about 21 miles in length, the lake includes 5,000 acres that span into Sam Houston National Forest. While the majority of the lake is in the unincorporated region of the county, only a small section sprawls into the city of Conroe. The lake runs through the East Texas Piney Woods forests. The lake has an overall good water quality, seeing an average depth of 20.5 feet and a maximum depth of 75 feet. Lake Conroe is a popular attraction for recreational boating and has become one of the most popular fishing lakes in Texas. It hosted last year’s Bass Master Classic fishing tournament known nationwide.

Fishing for Lake Conroe bass and catfish

Lake Conroe is particularly well-known for its trophy Largemouth Bass. Other popular fish species include Bluegill, Channel Catfish, White Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass. Channel catfish are the most abundant species in the lake. Guppy targets Channel Catfish, trophy Blue Catfish, and Crappie, though she often “accidentally” reels in Largemouth and Striped Bass.

Channel catfish are by far the most abundant sportfish in the lake, offering most any angler a good opportunity for great catches. The current daily bag limit on Lake Conroe for Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, their hybrids and subspecies, is 25 in any combination with a minimum length of 12 inches. Flathead Catfish are more regulated with a daily bag limit of 5 with a minimum length of 18 inches. Always check current local fishing regulations before fishing.

Lake Conroe fishing tips; catfish

Guppy uses 2 different techniques for Catfishing, depending on the size of fish she’s targeting. For “eater-sized” Catfish she suspends Catfish Bubblegum on her treble hook just off the bottom of the lake and has no problem obtaining her daily bag limit. Invented by her husband, Brad Doyle, and made in their home kitchen, Catfish Bubblegum is the only no-stink Catfish bait on the market and is available in 4 unique flavors; Original Recipe, Liquor-ish, Gar-Lick & Onion, and Bacon. Baits must reach near bottom quickly to avoid the small bait-stealers that inhabit the shallower water.

Catfish Bubblegum

When targeting trophy Catfish, Guppy uses cut carp or Menhaden shad soaked in Bradley’s Bite Enhancer. This is a liquid that can be used as a spray or marinade, which is scientifically formulated to increase bite ratios in all species of predatory fish. She puts the soaked natural cut bait on a 10/0 Octopus Circle hook and uses the wind to drift fish at various depths. Though the trophy bite is of a much slower pace, the fight with these magnificent creatures is quite the experience. Guppy tags and releases all trophy Catfish to assist in gathering data on their growth patterns.

Though still considered a start-up company, Catfish Bubblegum and Bradley’s Bite Enhancer are available to anglers online at www.catfishbubblegum.com and in 42 bait shops across the United States and Puerto Rico. Ladies fishing Lake Conroe have good success using it when targeting catfish.

Fishing for Lake Conroe crappie

Though Guppy’s life essentially revolves around Catfishing, she thoroughly enjoys the fast pace of Crappie fishing. Crappie are very popular and offer good opportunity for anglers seeking table fare. Black and White Crappie made a comeback in the lake with the efforts of the Lake Conroe Restocking Association’s spring stockings of advance juvenile crappie. Good catches of crappie can be had in early spring and in the fall. Black and White Crappie along with their hybrids and subspecies have a daily bag limit of 25 with a minimum length of 10 inches.

fishing Texas lakes

When fishing for Crappie over submerged “reefs” or brush piles, Guppy uses either live minnows on a crappie hook or crappie jigs, both sprayed with Bradley’s Bite Enhancer. Man-made structures have been used to create four fish “attractor reefs” in Lake Conroe. The attractors were placed by TPWD in cooperation with the San Jacinto River Authority, local Friends of Reservoirs groups, and other partners. Anglers may use GPS in conjunction with a fish finder to locate these reefs.

Fish Lake Conroe in cooler weather for great action

Colder months with cooler water temperatures typically produce successful fishing trips for almost every species. Scorching heat in the summertime proves problematic for many anglers. Guppy says the trick is to identify the depth of the thermocline – a steep temperature gradient in a body of water marked by a layer above and below which the water is at different temperatures. The fish prefer deeper water in the summer to escape the heat, without crossing the thermocline where oxygen levels are substantially lower.

Years ago, Grass Carp was introduced to Lake Conroe to help control the invasive overgrowth of the Hydrilla plant. To this day, a Triploid Grass Carp Permit is in effect. If a grass carp is caught, it must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.

Lake Conroe safety concerns

Lake Conroe has reportedly held the title of the deadliest lake in Texas since the year 2000. Most deaths are a result of boating accidents but occasionally drownings do take place. Lake Conroe’s biggest downfall is the amount of inexperienced and irresponsible recreational boaters, particularly large vessels capsizing smaller boats and kayaks with their massive wake, or boaters under the influence causing deadly accidents.

Guppy recalls a frightening morning when her husband, Brad, and his family had a horrifying encounter with a large vessel. The massive boat crossed directly in front of them, sending a catastrophic wake their way. The first wave caused the front of his 21-foot pontoon boat to go airborne, then nosedive as the second wave came aboard sending water waist high on the children that were on board. Fortunately, Brad was able to maintain control by quickly putting the boat in reverse, avoiding tragedy. All children on board were wearing life vests and all of his equipment that ended up in the water was able to be retrieved. That same week, 2 victims of capsizing were not as lucky and unfortunately lost their lives in the same waters due to large wakes.

Texas Trophy Catfish Association’s “Kids Fish Fest”

Guppy is the event coordinator for Texas Trophy Catfish Association’s “Kids Fish Fest” events. Since obtaining their 501(c)3 Non-Profit Charity Organization status 5 months ago, Guppy has worked tirelessly to organize events where a group of phenomenal volunteers have been able to teach over 600 children how to fish. In open communication with Texas Parks & Wildlife and several Texas based fishing groups, the demand for educational and interactive events has grown substantially.

lake fishing in Texas

At “Kids Fish Fest” children are able to come out to learn how to tie knots, receiving casting and fishing lessons, fish identification and conservation education, as well as see trophy Catfish up close and personal in a rejuvenation tank before observing a tagging demonstration and watching their safe release back into the water.

All TXTCA volunteers have attended courses to become Texas Parks & Wildlife Certified Angler Education Instructors and majority are even CPR certified and/or certified by the Texas Department of State Health Services and National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) to ensure these events remain safe for everyone involved.

In addition to filming two seasons with Gone Fishing Pro television series as a professional tournament angler, Guppy has had the opportunity to reach out to the public, face to face at the Sports & Outdoors Banquet of First Baptist Church of Conroe with Duck Dynasty’s own John Godwin, the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival, the Houston Fishing Show, Kids Wildlife Conservation Day by Texas Brigades, The Southwest Houston International In-Water Boat Show, Possum Kingdom Catmasters Tournament on Possum Kingdom Lake in Graford, Texas, 1st Annual Kings & Queens Kids Catfishing Tournament by Hearts of the Father in Waller, Texas, and several events hosted by Walden Marina on Lake Conroe. In total, at these alone, she’s educated upwards of 100,000 people about her goals in conservation.

Catfish conservation

Tagging and safely releasing trophy Catfish is vital to collecting data on their growth patterns and in turn improving regulations. As it stands on Lake Conroe, fishing license holders are allowed to keep 25 Catfish per day, with no limit on how large the harvested fish can be. This proves problematic in conflicting with the dwindling numbers of trophy Catfish on Texas waters. The goal is to gather enough information on the Catfish’ growth patterns to encourage Texas Parks & Wildlife and San Jacinto River Authority to make changes to the daily bag limit regulations and preserve the trophy Catfish population to ensure a healthy spawn rate and ecosystem.

In attempts to improve conservation efforts, TxTCA has been able to negotiate with tournament leaders to change regulations regarding weigh-in protocol, and to date has not had anyone back down on the requirements. Fish must be weighed in alive. Tournament rules have changed to where fish brought in dead are either unable to be weighed or 10% of the weight is deducted. To date, they’ve had 0 trophy casualties. This is an improvement Guppy has been able to witness personally as TxTCA progresses.

Guppy has made a goal to reach 150,000 people face to face and teach over 1,000 children how to fish in 2019. To learn more about conservation efforts, visit Texas Trophy Catfish Association . If you’d like to try Catfish Bubblegum or Bradley’s Bite Enhancer, you can visit our website to purchase or find a retailer near you. To contact Guppy about her products or schedule a fishing trip with Bradley’s Guide Service on Lake Conroe, call (936) 232-4683.

Top 12 Texas Game Fish

Fishing in Texas, the Top 12 Game Fish

The subject of this article will be fishing in Texas, the top 12 species, focusing on freshwater and inshore saltwater fish game species.

The state of Texas offers anglers some outstanding fishing opportunities. Coastal waters have excellent populations of redfish and speckled trout. Other species such as flounder, sheepshead, and drum are plentiful in the shallow, fertile bays. Freshwater anglers target trophy largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, striped bass, panfish, and more in Texas lakes and rivers.

top 12 texas game fish

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Stephanie is our Texas expert

“Little bit about me, I just started fishing a couple years ago. It wasn’t anything that my family did, and certainly wasn’t something that you see many women doing. When I met my man it was his passion, I fished to be with him, but it quickly became something that I loved, it became my passion, it became my reset button, and it fed my soul. I started getting more and more into fishing learning about the baits, the reels, the rods, and soon it wasn’t him asking to go fishing, it was me asking him to go fishing.

“It wasn’t long before it wasn’t him asking to go fishing it was me asking to go fishing and learning new knots and baits and reading about fishing techniques and studying the maps. I absolutely love fishing and I would like to tell all the ladies out there this is not just a mans sport, get out there on the water, get your lines wet you won’t regret it.

top texas fish species

Tackle for fishing in Texas

“My favorite reels to use are Kastking. The Sparticus is my favorite reel, spooled up with 15 pound braided line. It is paired with a Waterloo rod. I like a 7′ medium action rod. I use a 24″ pice of 25 pound flourocarbon leader.

“When the tide isn’t moving and it is slow I like to tie on a High Water Fishing Lures Popping cork tipped with gulp or even live bait and it turns the fish on. My go-to bait when fishing docks and jetties is a ¼ ounce jig head with a live shrimp. It catches every species in Texas”!

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Top Texas inshore saltwater species

The shallow bays along the Texas coast from Houston to South Padre Island offer anglers excellent opportunities to catch fish. Speckled trout are the top inshore species, with redfish being a close second. Flounder, black drum, and sheepshead are also available.

1) Speckled trout

Speckled trout are arguably the most popular saltwater species in Texas. They are a beautiful fish that are aggressive and strike rates and artificial lures with gusto. Speckled trout school up on the shallow flats as well as in the passes. Trout are also fantastic eating.

top 12 Texas Game fish

The entire Gulf Coast of Texas from Houston down to South Padre Island is ideal speckled trout habitat. The wide, shallow bays consist of mud, we, sand, and oyster shell bottom. Submerge grass beds and oyster bars in particular attract the forage that speckled trout feed on. Their diet consists of both crustaceans and bait fish.

Many speckled trout are landed by Texas anglers using a noisy cork. These corks provide casting weight while also being used to attract fish. The top of the cork has a concave face which makes a loud “pop” when twitched sharply. This noise simulates feeding fish and attracts both speckled trout and other species to the bait dangling below. Anglers can use either a live shrimp or a soft plastic bait on a jig head under the cork.

2) Redfish

Redfish are another very popular inshore saltwater species targeted by Texas anglers. They also thrive in the shallow bays and passes. Redfish will often be found in schools on the flats in late summer. They gang up before moving out into the Gulf of Mexico to spawn.

Redfish can be caught in very shallow water. Oyster bars are prime spots as they forage for crabs and shrimp. They are also found in the rock jetties and under docks and bridges. Live shrimp and small bait fish are the top live baits. Jigs and weedless gold spoons are good artificial lures. The same popping cork techniques that produce trout will fool redfish as well.

Schools of bull redfish can be encountered in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Anglers coming across one of these schools are in for a treat! The reds will be fairly easy to get to bite if anglers are patient and quietly ease into position. These are large fish, so make sure the tackle is appropriate.

3) Flounder

Flounder are another much sought after inshore species. They are found right on the bottom. Flounder are predators with surprisingly large mouths and prefer live prey such as bait fish and shrimp. A live shrimp on a ¼ ounce jig head is very productive. Live mud minnows and other small bait fish are great baits as well.

Flounder have an interesting life. When they are born, they swim up right, the same is most other fish. However, at some point in their life they turn over on their side and the eye migrates to the side facing up. This results in the flounder swimming with one side down all the time and both eyes looking up.

Flounder will bury themselves in the San with much of their body covered except for their mouth and eyes. There mottled markings blended in well with the sandy bottom. Generally, flounder will do this right on the edge of structure where transitions from hard bottom to send. Then, they will ambush any prey that wanders within range.

Flounder will also stage near structure in the passes. Outgoing tides are a great time to fish for them as they lie in wait, hoping to ambush a meal. Heavier jig heads and sinkers may be required if the current is strong.

4) Black drum

Black drum are cousins to the redfish and are similar in feeding habit and locations. Redfish are actually red drum. Black drum can be found in surprisingly shallow water for their size. Black drum will also school up in very deep water and passes and out in the open Gulf of Mexico. Smaller specimens are good to eat, however, larger drum can get a bit wormy.

top texas game fish

Black drum are similar to redfish with a few exceptions. For one thing, they grow larger. Secondly, black drum feed primarily on crustaceans whereas redfish feed on bait fish more often. Also, while black drum will occasionally take and artificial lure, the vast majority are caught by anglers using natural bait. Blue crabs cut in half are a top black drum bait, especially for anglers targeting the larger fish. Plenty of black drum are caught on shrimp as well.

Black drum are similar to sheepshead and looks, especially when they are smaller. However, they are a bit more elongated. Black drum love all structure such as bridges, docks, jetties, oyster bars, ledges, and more. Anglers targeting black drum fish live or frozen shrimp or fresh cut crab right on the bottom.

5) Sheepshead

Sheepshead are plentiful and popular along the entire Gulf Coast, and Texas is no exception. These tasty members of the porgy family are almost always found around some type of structure. Docks, bridges, jetties, rocks, hard bottom, ledges, artificial reefs, and oyster bars will all hold sheepshead. They feed primarily on crustaceans and are usually caught by anglers using shrimp or fiddler crabs.

top texas game fish

Sheepshead can be found in shallow water at times, especially along the edges of oyster bars that drop off into deeper water. However, most are found in water between six and 15 feet deep. Docks and bridges are prime spots to target sheepshead. Rocks and jetties will hold plenty of fish as well. Structure such as wrecks and artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico will produce sheepshead, and sometimes larger specimens.

6) Sharks

Several species of shark inhabit the shallow bays and inshore Gulf of Mexico waters in Texas. These provide great sport on light tackle and will actually take an artificial lure. Blacktip and bonnethead sharks are the most commonly caught shark species.

Texas shark fishing

7) Jack crevalle

Jack crevalle are a terrific inshore game fish! While not considered good to eat, these fish grow large, pull incredibly hard, hit lures and flies, and are almost always in a feeding mood. What more could an angler ask for?

jack crevalle fishing in Texas

One great aspect of jacks is that the fishing is often times visual. Jacks will herd bait fish up on the surface and then feed aggressively. This can be seen from a long way off on a calm day. They will pretty much hit any lure of bait that comes their way. Jacks are found on the flats, in channels and passes, near bridges and docks, and out in the Gulf of Mexico.

8) Spanish mackerel

Spanish mackerel and false albacore fishing tips

Spanish mackerel are found in large numbers in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. They are often found feeding on the surface. Birds wheeling and diving are another sign that mackerel are in the area. Spanish mackerel will also move into the passes and bays. Anglers catch them free lining live bait, casting lures, trolling, and fly fishing.

9) king mackerel

King Mackerel fishing in Texas

King mackerel, or “kingfish” are an extremely popular saltwater game fish all along the Gulf Coast, and Texas is no exception. While they are found offshore, they do move in quite close to the beach when conditions are right. Clear water that is in the low 70’s will attract bait and therefore kings. Anglers mainly catch them by trolling artificial lures and live bait fish. This allows for them to cover a lot of water in search of fish.

Top Texas freshwater species

9) Largemouth bass

Largemouth bass are arguably the most popular game fish in the United States. Texas is second only to Florida when it comes to numbers and size of largemouth bass. Anglers could make the argument that Texas has the best bass fishing in North America. Most Texas bass, especially the larger ones, are transplanted Florida strain fish. The environment and growing season in Texas our perfect for largemouth bass to prosper.

Texas largemouth bass fishing

Many large lakes were created and Texas in the 1960s and 1970s. Many acres of flooded timber provided excellent cover and habitat for largemouth bass. That, along with the advent and popularity of bass tournaments helped grow the sport quickly. Texas offers anglers bass fishing 12 months out of the year, one more reason for the popularity of largemouth bass in Texas.

Most anglers targeting largemouth bass do so using artificial lures. Many of the advancements in technology and development of lures resulted from tournament bass anglers. Top baits include plastic worms and other soft plastic baits, spinner baits, hard bodied plugs, spoons, and jigs.

Largemouth bass are normally structure oriented. It will generally be found around some type of cover such as fallen timber or weeds, along with docks, bridges, and other man-made structure. They will at times school up in open water, particularly on the edges of channels. Largemouth bass spawn in the spring in shallow water.

10) Crappie

Crappie are the largest member of the pan fish family. They are extremely popular throughout the United States. Crappie tournaments are becoming more numerous each year. While crappie do not put up a tremendous fight, they are a beautiful fish, fun to catch, and are fantastic eating.

crappie fishing in Texas

There are two types of crappie, black crappie and white crappie. For the most part, their diets, habits, and locations are similar enough to cover them together. Minnows are the primary diet of crappie. Therefore, the vast majority of anglers targeting them use either small live minnows or artificial lures that mimic the small baitfish.

Small plastic tail jigs and marabou jigs are extremely productive crappie lowers. They can be fished slowly and enticingly to fool crappie into biting. Different weights can be used to cover the water column. While there are many different manufacturers of plastic tail jigs, and they can all be effective, Stephanie prefers Mudd Butt baits.

Jigs can be cast, troll, and vertically fished. Trolling has become extremely popular as it allows anglers to cover a wide path with multiple lures at one time. Special rods up to 20 feet long can be used. Jigs can also be fished vertically while the boat drifts along the bottom or is held in position over likely structure with the trolling motor. Finally, jigs can be cast toward shoreline cover and under docks.

Texas crappie fishing

Stephanie loves crappie fishing and is sharing some of her tips here with other anglers.

“I wanted to share some information on freshwater crappie fishing. We fish brush piles starting in spring and on into summer. The warmer it gets the deeper the brush piles need to be. We fish slip corks with minnows, but also throw 1/32 oz or 1/16 oz jigs when the brush is deeper. I like to fish the curly tail grubs when fishing brush piles but also like the Bobby Garland Slab Slayer or Minnow Mind’R.

texas game fish species

“When it gets warmer we like to move to the piers and docks. Generally, the best time to target crappie under docks is when the sun is up high. We had the best luck on an older docks in about 7′-8′ of water as well as a covered boat dock. My favorite dock shooting rod is a 6′ medium rigged with my KastKing Centron 500 spooled up with 4 pound line. My favorite combination is a 1/32 oz jighead and the Mudd Butt Baits 2″ Crappie squirt. These don’t get tangled.

Shooting docks for crappie

“I try to shoot as far as I can so that it puts me in the right direction while swinging back to the boat. Sometimes they are holding far back on the piers and other times they are holding right on the edge. You just have to find them but once you do they are typically all in about the same area. I caught some of my biggest crappie on the docks of Lake Conroe”.

Texas also offers anglers excellent fishing for bluegill, sunfish, shellcrackers and other pan fish. Just about every creek, river, pond, and lake in Texas offers anglers the chance to catch these feisty little game fish. Pan fish are great fun and great sport when targeted using ultralight spinning tackle or fly rods.

11) panfish

While many species can be lumped into the pan fish category, they can actually differ quite a bit and habit and diet. Bluegill are probably the most aggressive, eating just about everything. They will eat insects, worms, crustaceans, and small baitfish. Of all the pan fish, they are probably the most willing to attack and artificial lure. Small jigs and spinner baits are top lures.

Texas panfish

While other types of sunfish such as green sunfish, redear sunfish (also known as a shell cracker), red breast sunfish, and longhair sunfish will take a lure or fly, most are caught using live baits such as worms and crickets. Of this group, shell crackers are the largest. They get their name from feeding on mollusks and other crustaceans. They are normally found in slightly deeper water.

12) Striped bass and hybrids

Striped bass were introduced into Texas lakes in the mid-1970s. As submerged timber rotted and disintegrated, largemouth bass moved to man-made structure, especially docks. As striped bass are an open water fish, they became a perfect replacement for the bass which had moved to the shorelines. By any measure, they are a great success!

Most of the striped bass caught in Texas lakes are stocked. Striped bass move up into flowing rivers to spawn. Many lakes and impoundments have dams which restrict the movements of striped bass. Therefore, they cannot access these flowing streams to lay their eggs.

top Texas game fish

In many instances, forage fish were added to the lakes for the striped bass to feed on. Gizzard shad, hickory shad, and blueback herring were the most common species. These complement the striped bass as they also prefer open water. Freshwater striped bass in Texas grow very large feeding on the abundant forage.

Trolling for striped bass

Trolling is a terrific way to locate and catch striped bass. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short period of time. Striped bass often relate to the channel edges of the original River bed. Anglers often troll back and forth over the channel edge with jigs and live bait.

Anglers can also cast for striped bass. This is particularly true when they are seen working on the surface. Also, striped bass will move to the bank at times and on lakes where possible, striped bass will move up into the rivers and can be caught there by anglers casting lures as well.

Hybrid striped bass are available in Texas lakes as well. They are a mix between striped bass and white bass. These are known as “hybrids”, and “wipers”. They do not grow quite the largest striped bass, however they are abundant in very aggressive. Hybrids can be identified by their broken horizontal line on their body. They are also a bit wider than striped bass.

Fishing in Texas, the top 12 game fish; Catfish

Catfish are becoming quite popular in Texas as game fish. They are becoming the targets of more and more anglers seeking a truly large freshwater fish. The introduction of blue catfish along with the native flathead catfish give anglers the chance to catch a fish that is close to 100 pounds. Channel catfish are smaller in size, but much more plentiful in terms of numbers and are probably the best eating of the three.

While all three of the Texas catfish species are similar, there are variations in their diets and habits. All three catfish species are opportunistic and will scavenge when food is readily available. However, all three are predators and willingly eat live prey. Catfish sometimes get a bad reputation as a species that scours the bottom and devours whatever tidbits they can fine, but this is not at all true.

Catfish are found in streams, small rivers, and larger rivers and lake systems. They normally feed on or near the bottom, but can be found up higher in the water column at times. They do prefer cover, especially fallen trees and rocks. Catfish are nocturnal feeders but can be easily caught during the daylight hours as well.

Most anglers targeting catfish use a sinker with a short leader in a hook. The list of baits in a catfish will take is long, but includes nightcrawlers, chicken and pork livers, crayfish, live minnows, chunks of fresh fish, and prepared commercial catfish baits. Top spots and rivers are outside bends with cover. Catfish and lakes are found near bridges, riprap shorelines, channel edges, and near the dams, especially in the tail waters.

13) Blue catfish

fishing for blue catfish

Blue catfish are commonly caught in the 20 pound to 40 pound range and grow March larger than that. While they are native to some parts of Texas, they have also been introduced to larger lakes and river systems. Blue catfish prefer large bodies of water, both rivers and lakes.

These are true predator fish. While they will eat insects and crustaceans, especially at a younger age, they start feeding on live bait fish sooner than other catfish species. In some River and Lake systems, they are actually considered to be a problem and stay feet so heavily and grow so large. Blue cats are similar in appearance to channel catfish. However, they do not have spots and have a slate blue grey coloring on their back.

14) Channel catfish

fishing for channel catfish

Channel catfish are by far the most abundant of the three catfish species. They are found in a wide range of habitats from small creeks and slow moving streams to large rivers and lakes. Young channel cats mostly eat insects and then switch over to muscles, crustaceans, and baitfish. The adaptability of channel cats to its water type and diet is surely a key to its abundance in terms of numbers.

Channel catfish are a very popular freshwater fish species, perhaps second only to largemouth bass. There range and numbers are primary factors for this. Very few anglers in the United States live very far from a spot where they can catch channel cats. They are also extremely good eating and by far the best of the three.

15) Flathead catfish

flathead catfish fishing

Flathead catfish grow very large. They easily reach weights of over 100 pounds. As the name suggests, they have a large flat head and are pale yellow to light brown in color this gives them their nickname of “yellow catfish”. Flathead cats are solitary predators and prefer deep holes in creeks and rivers with a sluggish current and lots of cover.

Flathead catfish differ from the other catfish in that they feed exclusively on live fish. They will eat insects and other opportunistic meals as young fish, but at an early age they switch over to feeding exclusively on whatever forage is available. In areas where it is permitted, a large live son fish is considered a great bait for flathead catfish. Anglers to catch them on cut fish as well.

 

In conclusion, this article on fishing in Texas, the top 25 species will help anglers understand the locations, seasons, baits and lures, and techniques needed to catch more fish. Anglers can find all Texas fishing regulations on the state site. What is your favorite Texas game fish?

Striped Bass Fishing Tips and Spots

Striped Bass Fishing Tips, Techniques and Tactics

This article will share striped bass fishing tips and spots. Striped bass, also known as rockfish and stripers, are arguably the most popular saltwater inshore game fish.

Striped bass are the most popular inshore saltwater game fish in the Northeast. They range from Maine down to South Carolina. Anglers catch them trolling, casting, using live bait, and surf fishing. They have also been transplanted successfully in many large freshwater lakes. There is also a population of striped bass in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento River. Striped bass are often found in schools. They grow quite large with the world record being a touch over 80 pounds. Stripers can be caught using every inshore fishing technique.

striped bass fishing tips

East Coast striped bass

Striped bass spawn in the brackish tributary rivers. Chesapeake Bay is responsible for about 80% of the striped bass spawning activity. The Hudson River in New York is second in that regard. Juvenile striped bass spend the first couple years in the freshwater and brackish rivers before migrating out to the open water. Striped bass can live up to 30 years old.

Striped bass can be caught using a wide variety of angling techniques. They are caught drift fishing, trolling, sight fishing, chumming, fly fishing, and surf fishing.

Susquehanna River striped bass

Striped bass fishing tips from Kayla and Kirsten

Since this is such a large geographical area, we have two fishing ladies to help anglers catch more striped bass. Kayla Haile has been fishing the Susquehanna since before she could walk. Her dad would take her fishing there and taught Kayla everything she knows about fishing the river. She currently runs an 1860 G# jet boat. She primarily fishes the Susquehanna below the Cowingo Dam, but knows the Chesapeake Bay as well. Kirsten Holloway fishes the Jersey Coast near Egg Harbor. She does a mix of inshore, river, and beach fishing. She is a versatile angler and uses live bait, cut bait, and artificial lures to land some nice striped bass.

Drifting over productive areas with either live bait or artificial lures produces many striped bass for anglers. Channel edges, depth changes, areas of hard bottom composition, artificial reefs, bridges, creek and river mouths, and inlets are all prime spots.

Striped bass fishing techniques

Anglers choosing to drift with natural bait will have success use in both live and cut bait. A free lined pogy or menhaden is a deadly bait for a trophy striped bass. Small live eels are used as well, especially in Chesapeake Bay around the bridges. Cut bait such as strips or chunks of fresh fish and squid will also produce. Anglers choosing to drift while using artificial lures will do well with jigs and heavy vertical jigging spoons.

inshore saltwater fishing

Some anglers choose to anchor and chum a spot, rather than drifting it. This can be an extremely productive technique. The boat is anchored up on a drop off, piece of hard bottom, or other likely spot. Menhaden oil or other chum is dispersed with the tide from the stern. Several rods are rigged and hooked up with chunks of fresh baits such as pogy or menhaden. Any oily fish will work; bluefish and mackerel are fine baits. It is important to use circle hooks in this application to reduce the number of fish that are gut hooked. Many states require this by law.

Striped bass rods and reels

Medium heavy spinning outfits and light to medium conventional combos work best for striped bass fishing. Here are a couple of good Penn outfits that will get an angler going without breaking the bank. Clink on the links to shop.

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Striped bass fishing tips; chasing “breaking” fish

There is nothing more exciting than casting to schools of “breaking” striped bass! Stripers will herd schools of bait fish up in the water column and trap them against the surface. Once they do this, the feeding frenzy is on. Fish can be seen splashing and feeding on the surface from quite a distance away on a call morning. Often times, bluefish and even false albacore are mixed in with the stripers.

fishing the Susquehanna River

Artificial lures are great fun in this situation. Anglers casting surface poppers, shallow diving plugs, spoons, and jigs will all experience fast action as long as the lure resembles the bait fish in size and color. Some days it does not matter, the stripers will hit just about anything in the water that is moving. This action normally occurs in the fall in the inshore bays and in the Atlantic Ocean close to shore.

Trolling for striped bass

Trolling produces many striped bass, and normally the largest specimens. While trolling can be cumbersome with all the gear that is required, it is the most efficient way to get a lure down deep or many of the largest striped bass live and feed. Experienced anglers use wire line and specially designed to reels to get their umbrella rigs and other trolling gear down deep. Many of the charter boats in Chesapeake Bay are using this fishing method.

trolling fot stripers

Anglers using lighter tackle can have success troll and as well. Anglers can use 20 pound conventional tackle and trolling sinkers or planers to get their lures down to the fish. Plugs with large lips will dive down without any other gear. For the most part, this type of trolling is best done in water 20 feet deep or shallower.

Striped bass fishing, inlets

Inlets are excellent spots to target striped bass. This is especially true for anglers without a boat, as most inlets have jetties which allow anglers access. The best time to fish inlets is generally on the turn of the tide, when the current flow is reduced. It is difficult to fish when the current is running hard through the inlet.

Anglers fishing the inlets can choose to use both natural and artificial baits. Those casting poppers and other plugs along with spoons and jigs do quite well when working parallel to the rocks. They will also make opportunistic cast whenever breaking fish pop up. Anglers bottom fishing need to constantly adjust the weight in order to minimize snags. Often times, the best spot to bottom fish is on the backside of the jetty where there is a sandy bottom and a current eddy.

fishing inlets

Striped bass are targeted by surf anglers as well. These fish are prized by surf casters from the main beaches down to Cape Cod and as far south as Hatteras in North Carolina. Experienced surf fisherman usually have several rigs ready to go. They will often bottom fish with a large piece of bait on a fish finder rig, letting it set in the holder. While waiting for a bite, anglers can cast poppers and other artificial lures and are also ready if a “blitz” should happen to occur.

surf fishing

Top striped east coast bass spots

Striped bass fishing in Maine

Starting in the north, Maine now has reliable fishing for striped bass once again. After several down years, the numbers of fish are back up again. Biologists credit tough regulations along the east coast and plentiful bait fish as the main reasons for the resurgence.

Fish show in the the southern part of the state in May. They will move as far north as Penobscot Bay by late June. Mackerel, either live or in chunks, is a top striper bait. Any fresh cut bait will work at times. Sand worms and blood worms are also effective baits. Poppers, diving plugs, spoons, and jigs are the top choices for anglers who prefer artificial baits.

Striped bass fishing in Massachusetts

Striped bass show up off of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay in late April and stay until fall. Smaller fish are usually first to show up, followed by the larger specimens. Massachusetts offers anglers fantastic striped bass fishing when conditions are right. Fish will be caught in Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay, and off the area beaches.

Massachusetts striped bass

Anglers fishing from boats catch striped bass trolling and drifting. However, the most exciting fishing is when schools of fish are “breaking” on the surface. Just about any lure will draw a strike. Surf fishing is extremely popular in this area as well. Cape Cod is famous for surf fishing for stripers and other species.

Striped bass fishing in New York and New Jersey

Long Island sound and the New York and New Jersey beaches offer fantastic striped bass fishing. Fish show up in mid April and stay until Thanksgiving. Anglers can target them by trolling, drifting, casting, and surf fishing. Sight casting to large fish in shallow water is great sport!

The fall blitzes off of Montauk are legendary. Fish will be seen busting on top throughout the area. Boating can be intense, especially on the weekends. The key to the fishing is the abundance of bait. This attracts the striped bass as they migrate through and they feed heavily, especially in the fall.

New Jersey bass fishing

The Hudson River is responsible only behind Chesapeake Bay for producing juvenile striped bass. The fishing during the spring run can be epic. The prime time is from mid-April to mid-May. All of the same techniques produce in the river as in the saltwater.

Striped bass fishing the coast

Kirsten Holloway fishes the New Jersey Coast north of Atlantic City. As far as bass fishing on the Great Egg Harbor river goes, she catches fish on a variety of baits depending on the month of the year. In these pictures, the fish were caught in the spring time when the fish enter the river for spawning. At this time, the fish are after bloodworms and herring. Since the use of herring as bait has been outlawed, we have came up with some alternatives.

Most of these fish were caught as I like to refer to it as “chunkin”. I will use a hi-lo rig to catch a few smaller perch. I will then use the perch as bait and allow the bass to find the chunk, while staying anchored. It has seemed to work very well. If that isn’t working or I am looking to stay busy, I have also caught quite a few bass with a commonly used lure known as the “SP minnow” made by Daiwa.

Striped bass fishing, Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay is responsible for producing 80% of the east coast striped bass. The myriad of tributaries gives spawning fish plenty of places to reproduce. It also offers juvenile fish a place to feed and grow safely. Trolling produces most of the larger fish. Anglers can drift baits and lures as well as cast to fish.

Cowingo Dam fishing

Kayla Haile has been fishing the Susquehanna since before she could walk. Her dad would take her fishing there and taught Kayla everything she knows about fishing the river. She currently runs an 1860 G# jet boat. She primarily fishes the Susquehanna below the Cowingo Dam, but knows the Chesapeake Bay as well.

The Chesapeake Is a very diverse fishery. It starts as a river to the north and is almost like an ocean at the mouth. Tributaries hold juvenile fish before they migrate out into the open bay. Mature fish spawn in these rivers and creeks as well.

Striped bass fishing the Susquehanna River

Kayla fishes the lower Susquehanna River below Cowingo Dam. The best fishing is in late spring when the water temperature is around 65°. She likes a 6’7″ medium heavy St. Croix rod, Diawa B&G reel spooled with 30 pound HI-SEAS Grand Slam Braided line.

Chesapeake Bay stripers

Striped bass are mostly feeding on white perch at this time. Kayla has good success with a white Sassy Shad swim bait on a 3/4 ounce jig head. This bait mimics the white perch that are in the river. Water clarity will affect bait choice. White or pearl is a great all round color. Most of the large striped bass are in shallow water. They put up a great and challenging fight around the rocks and other structure.

Fishing Chesapeake Bay

The entire Chesapeake Bay watershed can be productive. Numerous rivers will hold striped bass in the spring as they spawn. Larger rivers such as the Potomac, Rappahanock, Patuxent, and Choptank are normally best. The mouths of these rivers are good again in the fall. In the warmer months, most of the larger fish will be found in the main channel where the water is deeper.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

Breaking fish are plentiful most years in the fall. Many of these are “schoolies” of around 20”, but are fun on light tackle. The late bite at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at the south end of the bay is legendary. Anglers also catch fish off the surf, especially near the inlets, during the season. Night fishing around the Bay Bridge can be very good.

Striped bass fishing in the Carolinas

Striped bass are plentiful as far down the coast as South Carolina. The Hatteras beaches in North Carolina are famous for surf fishing for striped bass and other species. These isolated barrier islands jut out into the Atlantic Ocean. Anglers come from all over the country to try their hand at surf fishing.

Most anglers surf fishing for striped bass take a two-pronged approach. They keep a 10 foot surf rod rigged up with a popper, plug, spoon, or jig. They they will also have a heavier 14 foot outfit. The heavier rig is baited up with a chunk of bait such as mullet or herring. While waiting for a bite, the lighter rod is used to cast whenever activity is seen.

striper

Albermarle Sound and Pamlico Sound are large inshore bays that offer good striped bass fishing as well. Tributaries into the sounds as well as the inshore bays and rivers south to the Georgia state line offer good angling opportunities as well. The same techniques that work up north work well in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

Freshwater striped bass fishing

Striped bass are a huge success story in larger freshwater lake and river systems. As flooded timber has rotted, largemouth bass fishing slowed. Striped bass and herring were introduced, and the stripers flourished! This is particularly true in the Tennessee Valley Authority lakes throughout the Southeast. Dams often prevent spawning, however some sytems are free flowing. While the following article is about Lake Murray, SC, the tactics will work anywhere freshwater striped bass are found.

Lake Murray striped bass

Lake Murray Striped Bass fishing, Tips and Techniques

This article will focus on catching Lake Murray striped bass. Lake Murray offers excellent fishing for these transplanted game fish, along with bass, catfish, crappie, and other species.

Lake Murray is a reservoir in the center of the state of South Carolina. It is 41 miles long and approximately 50,000 acres in size with around 500 miles of shoreline. Lake Murray was impounded in the late 1920s to provide hydroelectric power to the state of South Carolina. South Carolina were an innovator and began stocking striped bass in the late 60’s. Striped bass thrive in this freshwater fishery and are caught using several techniques.

Lake Murray fishing

Jacki Gillen is the “Lake Murray correspondent” for the site. She knows the lake well and primarily targets striped bass. Jacki was born in Norfolk, Virginia and grew up in the Lexington area of South Carolina. She spent many summers saltwater fishing with her grandfather in Chesapeake Bay along with freshwater fishing with her father in South Carolina.

Striped bass fishing fever!

It has only been in the last few years that she has found a new love for striped bass fishing with her husband on Lake Murray. Jacki also really enjoys offshore fishing and Charleston, South Carolina and in the Florida Keys. She owns J Hooker Fishing with her husband Jacob. Jacki is on the Striper Sniper pro staff and has great success using their products.

striper fishing Lake Murray

Striped bass are a saltwater game fish that were introduced into freshwater lakes in the early 70’s. Stripers spawn in freshwater and brackish rivers. Biologists were confident that they would do well in large freshwater lakes. They were correct! Striped bass do require fresh, flowing water to spawn. Santee Cooper is the only lake in South Carolina that has this environment. Therefore, Lake Murray striped bass do not reproduce. A million 1” fish are stocked each year.

Lake Murray striped bass forage

Striped bass feed primarily on bait fish. The primary forage species are threadfin shad followed by the gizzard shad. However, most and guides seem to prefer fishing with the blueback herring. These herring were not natural to Lake Murray, but were introduced by fishermen in 1985 and are now an established forage fish. Jacki does fine using herring and gizzard shad. Bait can be caught but Jacki prefers the convenience of picking it up at local bait shops.

The lures that Jacki uses and recommends when fishing for Lake Murray striped bass mimic these shad species in size and color. Bait size changes as they grow. Successful anglers “match the hatch” by keeping up with the size shad that the stripers are feeding on.

Lake Murray striped bass fishing tackle

winter striped bass

Anglers need both spinning tackle and conventional tackle when targeting Lake Murray striped bass. Spinning tackle is used to cast to breaking fish (fish that are feeding on the surface) and for vertical jigging. Jacki prefers a 7 foot rod matched with a 3000-5000 series reel. She uses 20-30 lb braided line. No leader is required as the lure is tied directly to the braid.

Trolling requires heavier tackle. The strain of the larger lures and rigs dictates the use of light conventional equipment. Not to mention that there is always a chance to hook a very large fish as well as multiple fish at one time. Jacki uses 7′ rods, Penn 30 series conventional reels, and 50 lb test line on her trolling outfits.

Umbrella rigs are effective on Lake Murray striped bass

Umbrella rigs are very productive when trolling for Lake Murray striped bass. They can be a bit cumbersome and will tangle when multiple fish are hooked. Umbrella rigs are basically larger versions of the “Alabama rigs” that largemouth bass anglers have made popular. They do a great job of imitating a school of shad. Jacki prefers Capt. Mack’s un-rigged nine bait umbrella rigs. She pairs them all with Striper Sniper buck tail jigs, snake worms, and swim shad baits.

umbrella rig for stripers

Striper Sniper 3/4 ounce to 1 ounce white buck tail jigs are tied on each arm of the umbrella rig. The leaders are 6 inches long. A Striper Sniper 10” snake worm or 6” swim bait is added to the jig for extra action. White, chartreuse, glitter, lemon lime, blue pearl, and sun drop are the top producing colors. They have recently introduced a new color called American eel which is next on the list to be tested

Lake Murray striped bass seasons

There are two basic seasons when fishing for Lake Murray striped bass; warm water and cool water. The water temperature is critical to striper migrations. Anglers need to be aware of this migration pattern and adjust accordingly. There is no real “calendar” as every year is different when it comes to weather. Here is Jacki’s advice for adapting to the two “seasons”.

Cooler weather striped bass fishing, fall and winter;

“Once the water temperatures begin to drop, the striped bass tend to start heading back towards the rivers and start coming up closer to the surface even schooling at the surface. We use umbrella rigs trolled at 3 MPH closer to the boat. This keeps them at or above 20 feet below the surface.

winter striped bass fishing

We also use planer boards with live herring trolled at about .5 – 1 MPH. We set the lines out 20-30 feet behind the planer. A 3 foot flourocarbon leader of 20-30 lb test is used. A # 3/0 hook completes the rig. We will occasionally run a flat line down the middle, quite a ways back.

Nothing beats casting artificial lures to breaking fish! I always keep a spinning outfit rigged with a topwater plug handy. My favorite bait is a Yo-Zuri 1 ounce plug. I use this when the fish are staying up on the surface. I also keep a Striper Sniper jig with a swim bait ready to go. This works well when fish surface quickly then go down. The jig will get down into the water column.”

Warm water striped bass fishing, spring and summer;

”Once the water begins to warm up, the striped bass start to head back to deeper water away from the rivers and towards the Lake Murray Dam. Anglers fishing in summer should always be able to see the dam. If not, you are too far away. We still use the umbrella rigs trolled at 3 MPH. However, we do so further from the boat to keep them in the 35 – 50 foot range, the lower the better.

Lake Murray fishing

We have also been able to put our smaller lighter weight rigs and crank baits on downriggers to drop them into the 60 – 80 foot range. Mid-Summer is also tower fishing season. We tie up to the towers at the Dam and drop live and/or cut bait herring typically to around 60 – 80 foot depths. We use a 1 ounce weight and a 3/0 hook.

Night fishing is a great way to escape the heat and catch some fish. Striped bass feed heavily at night, particularly in the summer time. Anglers do need to be more careful when fishing and boating in the dark. Summer storms can be an issue as well.

Additional Lake Murray species

Lake Murray catfish

While Jacki primarily concentrates on striped bass, Lake Murray offers excellent angling for other species. Largemouth bass are arguable the most popular species in the Lake. Much has been written about fishing for bass in the lake. Crappie and panfish are plentiful and Lake Murray has an excellent catffish population. Anglers can find more info and some great links HERE.

Sacramento striped bass fishing

This article will focus on Sacramento striped bass fishing. There are several rivers in the Sacramento, California area that offer anglers excellent fishing opportunities.

Sacramento River striped bass

The Sacramento River is the largest river in California. Stretching over 400 miles from the eastern slopes of the Klamath Mountains to Suisun Bay, it drains an area of about 27,000 square miles, including many major fishing tributaries. The Sacramento River, The Delta, Mokelumne River, Feather River and the American River flow a short drive from Sacramento. They hold several different species including striped bass, salmon, largemouth and spotted bass, shad, catfish, and sturgeon. Anglers can target these species using several different techniques.

Aimee lives in Elk Grove, near Sacramento, and knows these rivers well. She fishes for a lot of species, both salt and freshwater. Her favorite species are Striped Bass and Salmon when fishing fresh water. While the rivers do offer decent bass fishing, Aimee enjoys the challenge, and great fish, of the larger fish.That is the reason that she targets Sacramento striped bass and salmon.

Striped bass fishing tackle

The same tackle can be used when targeting both species. Aimee only uses Phenix rods. Her personal favorite for casting is a 7’11” M1 Phenix rod with an extra fast action. She jigs with a 6’8” foot slow pitch Titan rod. She matches both with a Diawa Lexa reel and 65 lb braided line. When trolling, Aimee goes with a Phenix X-14 that is 7’11” with an extra fast action.

California striped bass

Heavy tackle is required to catch big fish in the current when targeting Sacramento striped bass and salmon. River and fishing conditions change daily. The best bet is to look online to get current river conditions and fishing reports. Aimee’s favorite sites for this are Navionics and Willy Weather.

Sacramento Striped Bass

Striped bass migrate up into these rivers in the spring to spawn. The best time to target them is from March to May in spring and October to December in the fall. As with most river fishing, water levels and flow are very important. Years that have more rain will see an extended season. Conversely, drought conditions will condense the fishing season.

When fishing for striped bass, Aimee uses a couple different techniques. She drifts live bait such as blue gill & minnows. This is a very effective technique and is one almost any angler can use to be successful. Mud sucker minnows are purchased at bait shops. Bluegill and shad are caught by anglers. Larger baits will get less bites but will catch bigger fish.

Striper fishing in California

The rig that Aimee uses for drifting for striped bass is a simple drop back bottom rig. A 3 way swivel is tied on the line. Depending on current flow, sinkers from 2 ounces to 4 ounces. The sinker is placed on a 1 foot dropper line. A 4 foot leader of 15 lb to 30 lb test P-Line FlouroClear flourocarbon leader and a 2/0 to 7/0 hook completes the rig. As in most live bait applications, the hook size should be matched to the bait size, not the size of the fish being targeted.

Sacramento striped bass lures

Aimee really enjoys using artificial lures for these California river striped bass. She casts Delta Wood Bombers and ¾ ounce Ra-L-Traps. Silver/chartreuse, red and white, and chrome with a blue back are her top colors. Aimee also likes casting soft plastic swimbaits on a ¼ ounce or ½ ounce jig head.

Sacramento striper

Often times fish will be seen feeding on shad and other fish on the surface. This is a great time to cast a large topwater plug! Anglers can also blind cast both topwater and diving plugs neat fallen trees, rip-rap, and other structure and cover.

Trolling is another technique that produces striped bass on the California rivers. Her favorite plug is a Yo-zuri in the 5 1/4” size. Holographic Redhead is a great all-round color. Chartreuse woks well if the water is a bit murky. Trolling is relatively easy. Most anglers put the bow of the boat into the current and slowly work the area thoroughly. Fish are usually found in bunches, especially early in the year.

Artificial lure techniques on Sacramento rivers

Jigging is another very productive technique when targeting Sacramento River stripers. Aimee uses Blade-Runner Spoons for her jigging. Not surprisingly, her favorite color is “Aimee Blue”, named after her. You know she is a serious angler when she has baits named after her! 2 ounce to 3 ounce spoons are the preferred size.

The technique when drifting is fairly simple, whether jigging or using live bait. Anglers drop the lure or bait to the bottom and work it as the boat drifts along. Strong currents make it a bit more challenging. Channel edges and drop offs are prime spots, as are eddies when the river is running hard.

Anglers using live bait will need to adjust the depth of the bait as it drifts along. The idea is to keep the bait just above the bottom. Line will need to be let out and reeled in to adjust to the depth. Anglers jigging do the same thing, only the bait is jerked vertically as the boat moves along. The spoon should tick the bottom regularly.

Tennessee striped bass

Striped bass are a huge success story for the Tennessee fish management professionals. Many if not most of the Tennessee lakes were created in the mid-60s and early 70s by the TVA. These lakes had countless acres of flooded timber, offering perfect habitat for largemouth bass. However, over the years this timber rotted and deteriorated. Largemouth bass moved to other structure.

top freshwater fish species

This left an opportunity for an open water fish species and striped bass were the perfect fit. The Tennessee state record of 65 lbs. 6 oz. caught in Cordell Hull reservoir is an excellent example of a thriving striper population

Striped bass are a saltwater species that can tolerate absolute freshwater. They naturally migrate from saltwater into freshwater rivers to spawn. While striped bass and lakes can reproduce, and most lakes they don’t. This is due to the fact that dams inhibit the migration of fish up into the tributary creeks and rivers.

Forage for striped bass

In order to support this new fishery, forage species needed to be introduced as well. Several different species of shad were introduced and have thrived as well. Shad school up in large numbers over underwater structure. These are the same places where striped bass are found.

Anglers targeting striped bass used two primary methods. Live or cut Shad produces the majority of striped bass by Tennessee anglers. Drifting, slow trolling, and bottom fishing with live baits is extremely productive. The biggest hurdle is catching and keeping the baits alive. Cut Shad will produce as well, though it will also attract large catfish.

Tennessee striped bass fishing

Anglers casting artificial lures can catch striped bass as well. This is particularly true when they are found feeding on the surface. This is great fun as any spoon, crank baits, jig, or any other lure cast into the fray will normally draw a strike. Anglers vertically jigging deeper channel edges and blind casting shorelines and rip-rap areas near dams will also produce fish. Where allowed, tell water fisheries just below the dams can produce some fantastic striped bass fishing and Tennessee!

The top Tennessee striped bass fishing lakes are Old Hickory Reservoir, Cordell Hull Reservoir, Caney Fork, Melton Hill Reservoir, and Watts bar Reservoir.

Southwest striped bass

The southwest part of the country has excellent striped bass fishing as well, particularly in north Texas and Oklahoma.

Texas Striped bass lakes and rivers

The major lakes in Texas with healthy populations of stripers include Amistad Reservoir, Lake Texoma, Toledo Bend, Belton Lake, Canyon Lake, Cedar Creek Reservoir, Lake E.V. Spence, Cooper Lake, Hubbard Creek Reservoir, Lake Bridgeport, Lake Brownwood, Lake Buchanan, Lake Conroe, Lake Granbury, Lake Kemp, Lake Lewisville, Lake Livingston, Lake Lyndon B Johnson, Lake Palestine, Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Somerville, Lake Tawakoni, Lake Travis, Lake Whitney, Lavon Lake, Medina Lake, Pat Mayse Lake, Possom Kingdom Lake, Proctor Lake, Red Bluff Reservoir, Richland Chambers Reservoir, Sam Rayburn Reservoir, and Wright Patman Lake. The Brazos River yielded the Texas state record striped bass.

Oklahoma Striped Bass lakes and rivers

The Oklahoma lakes and rivers that offer good striped bass fishing include Lake Eufaula, Broken Bow Reservoir, Canton Lake, Lake Murray, Waurika Lake, Fort Cobb Reservoir, Fort Gibson Lake, Grand Lake of the Cherokees, Great Salt Plains Lake, Hugo Lake, Kaw Lake, Keystone Lake, Lake Altus-Lugert, Lake Carl Blackwell, Lake Hudson, Lake Texoma, Oologah Lake, Robert S Kerr Reservoir, Skiatook Reservoir, Sooner Lake, Tom Steed Reservoir, and Webber Falls Reservoir. Most tributaries offer good fishing as well.

California striped bass lakes and rivers

The Colorado River used to support a spawning run of striped bass. This was prior to dame being built. Some large fish are still taken there. Productive California lakes include Lake Havasu, Pyramid Lake, Bucks Lake, Lake Mendocino, Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Millerton Lake, New Hogan Lake, San Luis Reservoir, The Delta, Canyon Lake, Castaic Lake, Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Cahuilla, Lake Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Lake Perris, Silverwood Lake and Skinner Reservoir.

Nevada Striped bass lakes

Lake Mead, Lake Lahontan, Washoe Lake, Lake Mohave, and Rye Patch Reservoir are the top Nevada striped bass Lakes.

In conclusion, this article on striped bass fishing tips will help anglers be successful when targeting these terrific game fish!

River Fishing Tips and Techniques

River Fishing Tips and Techniques

This article on river fishing tips and techniques will help anglers catch more fish. Rivers are similar to lakes. However, the current flow and fluctuating water levels do make fishing rivers a bit different.

Rivers offer anglers some excellent fishing opportunities. River fishing is often a quiet, serene experience. Smaller rivers are often best fished with kayaks and canoes. Shallow water and rocks make outboard motors impractical. Larger rivers are best fished with small aluminum fishing boats. The primary species include largemouth and smallmouth bass, pike, walleye, musky, catfish, gar, trout, salmon, perch, sturgeon, and more!

river fishing tips and techniques

Fishing Wisconsin and Virginia rivers

Two articles are posted below are on fishing the Wisconsin River and rivers in Virginia. While they are about those particular rivers, the seasons, techniques, tackle, and baits will apply to other mid-west and southern rivers.

Fishing the Wisconsin River

Abby Heistad is our Fishing Ladies expert for the Wisconsin River. She is 24 years old, the owner of Heistad Communications, Content Writer and Marketing Consultant. She grew up in the small town of White Lake, Wisconsin located in the Northeastern portion of WI. After graduating high school life’s path lead her to Stevens Point for college where she pursued a degree in interpersonal/organizational communications.

Abby was born and raised in the countryside, enjoying the outdoors with her true passion coming from shooting archery and hunting with it evolving into a huge passion for fishing and water recreation. A large part of her goal as an outdoors woman, is to spread the word of conservation and maintaining the exquisite outdoor environment we are able to enjoy.

river smallmouth bass fishing

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“I’ve been living in the Stevens Point, WI area for the past 5 ½ years. The Wisconsin River is about 2 miles down the road from where I reside. I’ve only been a serious freshwater fishing lady for the past 7 years. Before getting into fishing seriously, I wasn’t a fan of catching, cleaning or eating wild caught fish.

Wisconsin River fishing tips

“That changed completely when I was introduced to river fishing. The first fish I caught by accident was a sturgeon and then lead onto catching a Muskie, catfish, bass and more. Since first starting, I’ve become accustomed to fishing for bass and Muskie. Fishing for bass can lead to a variety of fish nipping at your line in the river.

river fishing for musky

“River fishing is unique in the fact that the water levels, temperature and ecosystem are ever-changing. There are many times I am unable to get out due to high or fast-moving water. I push it to the limits with water speed and depth, but I am not overly risky as the river is extremely rocky and easy to lose good footing in.

Water level is crucial to river fishing success

“Water level is crucial when it comes to river fishing. High, fast, and dirty water will push the fish out of the main river and into protected spots where the water is slower and cleaner. Not only can these conditions be dangerous, fishing can be difficult. Conversely, low water will concentrate fish into the deeper stretches of the river.

shore fishing

“Understanding the river level, current, and clarity is very important when fishing rivers, and the Wisconsin River is no exception. Add to that the fact that different species are affected differently, and you can see how dynamic river fishing is! River fishing is both challenging and rewarding, that is why I enjoy it so much!

“My experiences on the river have led me to grow a passion for the trial and error experienced day-to-day. With so many variants, I find myself encouraged to embrace trying different lures and techniques. Among the fun of river fishing, I’ve added in fly fishing in the past 2 years to my swatch of skills.

Wisconsin River fishing strategies

“Much of the time spent in the river is off-shore and wading but occasionally I can be found in a kayak or boat. The Wisconsin River begins at Lac Vieux Desert at the northern border of Wisconsin, however I’ve only fished the stretch from Merrill all the way down to Nekoosa. The span of roughly 80 miles has allowed me to see various new territory and experience many different sections of the water with a variety of fish.

smallmouth bass fishing

“Tackle for fishing the Wisconsin River is pretty basic. Light spinning tackle is the best choice and is quite versatile. I like a 7-foot rod, 2500 series Piscifun reel spooled up with 10-pound test braid line for targeting most river species. That outfit is fine for casting light lures for bass and most other species.

“When musky are my quarry, I bump up the tackle significantly. These are big fish that take large lures. A 7-foot medium heavy rod, 7.1:1 baitcasting reel and 30-pound braided line get the job done.

“Artificial lures allow me to cover a lot of water in search of fish. Lures are versatile and a lot of fun to fish. Anglers do need to adapt to the ever-changing conditions. I will run through the seasons as far as lures that I like and conditions throughout the year.”

Fishing the Wisconsin River in spring

Anglers will often find the water high and muddy in spring. Melting snow and spring rains will raise the river high. These are tough conditions and care is required when wading or boating. As the water drops and clears, fishing will improve.

Smallmouth bass fishing for beginners

My favorite lures for spring fishing are as follows; Livingston Lures Dive Master Jr in Chartreuse Sunrise Shad and the Rapala Husky Jerk in Helsinki Shad.

The best spots to target river fish in spring are below dams, spillways, and in backwater slews as spawning is taking effect as the temps rise. Finding slack water can be key if the river is moving fast.

Fishing the Wisconsin River in summer

River conditions will be mellow as the spring rush subsides, however, high levels of rainfall effect the water as bad as springtime melt-off, so be aware of the river.

smallmouth bass fishing for beginners

My favorite lures for summer fishing are as follows; YUM Dinger 4” Senko in Green Pumpkin Neon, Bomber Square A in Foxy Shad, and the Live Target Frog Popper.

The best spots to target river fish in summer are variant with water temperature. As the water heats up, moving outward from the banks provides a better shot at landing larger fish. Also, depending on rainfall, if the water is low, it is warmer in shallow areas, not ideal for bass fishing so stick to the deeper parts of the river.

Fishing the Wisconsin River in fall

Fall anglers will find falling water temperatures and lower water levels. The best approach will be to hit the areas of moving water, not slack, more. The fish get aggressive as they are trying to pack on the pounds for the colder months of the year. Utilizing larger lures are key to catching larger fish. I do, however, still catch quite a few large fish on smaller baits.

My favorite lures for fall fishing are as follows; Rapala Husky Jerk in Pure Chrome, Livingston Lures Primetyme CB 2.0 in Guntersville Craw, Strike King Rage Tail in Bama Craw.

The best spots to target river fish in fall are in moving areas of water, not so much slack water as mentioned earlier. Pockets behind large boulders, rocks etc. are great for finding fish stacked up on occasion.

river fishing tips and techniques

One thing I really enjoy about casting these lures for bass is that just about every species in the river can be taken on these versatile lures. That is the main reason that I do not go too large when it comes to lure selection.

While I prefer lures, live bait can be very productive. Anglers who prefer a more relaxed approach will do well drifting live baits in the river. The best all-round bait is the nightcrawler. They are readily available at most tackle shops. They catch just about every fish that swims. Leeches are also effective baits.

Wisconsin River species

Anglers fishing the Wisconsin River can target several species of fish. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, musky, northern pike, walleye, catfish, and other species can be taken. Wisconsin fishing regulations can be found HERE.

Small Mouth bass

smallmouth bass fishing for beginners

Aggressive fish with incredible colors ranging from deep browns to vibrant greens with incredible stripe/spotted markings and ruby red eyes. My ALL-TIME favorite fish to go after on the river as they take great finesse in landing with their ability dart and throw a good fight in the water.

Largemouth bass

river fishing tips techniques

Largemouth bass are not as plentiful in the Wisconsin River as it is in local lakes. They do not like the current as much as smallies do. They are found in the more sluggish back-waters and will take a variety of lures and baits.

Walleye

river fishing tips

This species is fished for a ton in the Wisconsin River because of their high quality flakey white flesh when cooked. One of my least favorite to catch, but I catch a ton of, I find them to not throw as much of a fight as other fish in the river. Sometimes coming across as feeling like you’ve snagged a stick or line in the water.

Catfish

river fishing for catfish

When they get aggressive in the summer months, catfish will go after any type of lure and put up a big fight! I’ve caught many channel cats and they are feisty. Not my favorite eater, but they are delicious deep fried!

Muskie

river fishing for musky

My second favorite fish to land! Impressive, toothy, fighters, the muskie is known for their length, overall size and elusiveness. Many say they are the fish of 10,000 casts, but if targeted at the right times of the year, they can easier to land. River muskies are built and respond differently to techniques used for lake fishing making it a bit tougher.

Northern Pike

pike fishing in Minnesota

Similar to the muskie, pike are known for their aggressiveness. I find the pike to be a fun fish to fight also as they don’t give up easily. Finesse is needed in landing both pike and muskie due to their sharp teeth and power to snap lines.

In closing, this article written for the Fishing Ladies blog by Abby Heistad should help anglers experience success when fishing the Wisconsin River as well as other area rivers!

Virginia River Fishing tips and techniques

Virginia is blessed with several large rivers and countless smaller ones. The James River, Rappahanock River, and Potomac River all flow northwest to southeast, eventually flowing into Chesapeake Bay. All are diverse fisheries that start off as streams offering good freshwater fishing for smallmouth bass and other species. They slow and widen, becoming excellent catfish spots. Finally, they become brackish and salty as the dump into Chesapeake Bay and have good fishing for Striped bass.

Virginia river fishing tips

These larger rivers are very similar and have three distinct sections. The upper rivers are really streams, even having trout in the very upper reaches of them. However, smallmouth bass are the most targeted species in the upper stretches. Anglers use light spinning tackle to cast small lures and live bait. Top artificial lures include spinners, jigs, plugs, spoons, and soft plastics.

Virginia river fishing tips

Anglers Virginia river fishing will find the middle portions of these rivers slowing down and widening. Catfish and largemouth bass are the prime targets. Large catfish including flathead and blue catfish are now prominent in Virginia rivers. This is a controversial subject, but it looks like they are there to stay. Anglers use heavier tackle for large catfish and usually choose fresh, cut bait. Carp are often caught as well.

Largemouth bass and striped bass are plentiful in these stretches as well. Medium spinning and baitcasting tackle is most often used. Top lures include soft plastic baits, shad tails on jig heads, and plugs. Channel edges, flats, points, and bridges are all good spots to try for all of the species targeted in the middle portions of Virginia rivers.

river fishing in Virginia

The final third of these rivers become open waters that hold more saltwater fish. The striped bass is king, but white perch, flounder, bluefish, catfish, and other species will be caught as well. This is “big water” and anglers need to put safety first. Trolling is an excellent method to use to locate fish in these larger areas.

Most anglers opt for light spinning tackle when fishing the up-river sections of these rivers where smallmouth bass are the main targets. A 6′ spinning rod with matching reel and 6 lb monofilament line is a good combination. Anglers fishing down river for larger species such as catfish, largemouth and stripers will bump the tackle up to a 7′ rod, 3000 series reel, and 12 pound monofilament or 20 lb braided line.

Virginia river fishing tips and techniques from local expert Brandy

Brandy Brisson is our Fishing Ladies Virginia river fishing expert. She has a true passion for Virginia river fishing and is sharing some tips with other anglers.

Virginia river fishing

“My name is Brandy Brisson and I was born and raised in a royal area in Central Virginia. As a child instead of spending free time in front of a screen my parents encouraged me to spend time Outdoors. My dad and I would fish local ponds and rivers bringing home most of what we caught for dinner. I was taught it’s important to care for yourself and to use any natural resource possible.

“As I Grew Older and got my first job at Bass Pro Shops, I was able to buy my first kayak! It was a rickety piece of junk I picked up for a hundred bucks,but it floated! Ever since then I’ve been hooked on kayak fishing. I have four kayaks now and have fished almost every Virginia River.

Virginia river fishing in kayaks

“Kayaking gives you a huge advantage when river fishing. Getting in to areas were boats can’t and being super stealthy always helps. I had to build up my skill level to get through Rapids and narrow passageways to even get to the fish. Most Virginia rivers have excellent public put in and take out access points. It’s important for me to map out exactly where I’ll be floating and be aware of any obstructions. I’ll also check the weather frequently while out there. Better safe than sorry!

“Heavy rainfall and other weather conditions can really affect river fishing. Using more natural color baits in clear water and brighter bolder baits in murky is key. Also fishing in tighter structure when water levels are high helps. My favorite go-to bait for any situation is a Senko, you can work it at any speed or depth year round with results. Smallmouth love them!

“The James River is an excellent diverse Fishery with a lot to offer. It’s one of my favorite places to catfish and for very good reason; flathead catfish! Anglers come from all over to fish the Rapids and catch these huge beasts! They love to lay in only a few feet of water and search for live bait during the summer. Finding a good rock in the middle of the river and floating Bait fish in and out of eddies is sure to get em!

Virginia river fishing options

“Citation small and Largemouth are caught in this area too. Surely summertime brings many exciting opportunities to kayak anglers, but what do we do during winter? Winter kayak fishing is almost a completely different sport. Fishing slow and following migratory species is what I do. Striped bass begin to come up River in November and can be caught in brackish water up until early January. Dressing in warm light waterproof gear, having personal flotation devices on board and packing gear right is very important.

“The Potomac is one of my favorite fall places for stripers. Finding the channel and jigging pilings with bright colored buck tails works! When I paddle out into Open Water I’m sure to check the wind and tides. A super choppy day with high wind gust can make for an exhausting day.

“Early spring also brings in a saltwater migratory species we know as shad! They spawn in April and travel from the ocean all the way above the fall line just to lay their eggs and die. American and Hickory shad both put up a tremendous fight on light tackle and can be caught by jigging small spoons or grubs. Every year I get excited about their arrival knowing I can catch fish in cold weather and have catfish bait!”

Top 3 Virginia Rivers

POTOMAC RIVER

The Potomac River marks the Virginia border from Harper’s Ferry (where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac) down to Chesapeake Bay. The area around Washington D.C. Offers excellent fishing for largemouth bass and channel catfish. The river turns pretty much salt at the Potomac River Bridge near Colonial Beach.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER

The Rappahannock River is roughly 180 miles ling and mirrors the Potomac river in direction. It changes in character in Fredericksburg, changing from swift flowing stream to slower moving river. The Route 1 Bridge is the “fall line”, where the river becomes tidally influenced. Like most rivers, smallies are king in the upper section, while bass and catfish dominate below.

JAMES RIVER

Many Virginia anglers consider the James River to offer the best fishing in the state. This 350 mile long river is extremely diverse, holding an incredible variety of freshwater and saltwater species. The James River changes in personality at Richmond. The upper James River offers excellent smallmouth bass fishing. HERE is a great link with information on the Upper and Middle James River.

The tidal river from Richmond to Norfolk offers excellent fishing for blue catfish, striped bass, and largemouth bass. The open area near the mouth has saltwater species such as croaker, flounder, bluefish, and more.

In conclusion, this article on Virginia river fishing should help anglers explore the endless opportunities available in Virginia.

How to Catch Catfish, a Comprehensive Guide

How to Catch Catfish, a comprehensive guide to catching the top 3 catfish species

“How to Catch Catfish” is a comprehensive guide. It will cover all aspects of catching catfish, including tackle, baits, techniques, species, and locations.

Catfish are growing in popularity as a game fish in North America every year. There are several reasons for this. Catfish are widely distributed and are available to most anglers in the United States. Catfish grow very large, up to and over 100 pounds. They are fairly reliable in terms of behavior and habitat and not overly difficult to hook. Catfish put up a great battle. Finally, they are fantastic eating!

fishing for catfish

Three different catfish species dominate lakes, rivers, and streams in North America. These are the channel catfish, blue catfish and hardhead or yellow catfish. At least one species is available in every state throughout the lower 48. While there are many other species of Bullhead that are fun to catch and quite tasty, this article will focus on the larger catfish species that are regarded as game fish.

While catfish are taken occasionally by anglers using artificial lures, the vast majority of catfish are caught by anglers using live, natural, or prepared baits. Catfish have a keen sense of smell and use their barbells to help locate food. Catfish are opportunistic feeders, however they have had a bad reputation in the past for feeding indiscriminately on anything that they find.

fishing for freshwater catfish

The truth is that catfish are apex predators. In most instances, they prefer live prey. This is especially true with blue catfish and flathead catfish. One element that does make catfish so successful is the fact that they are very adaptable in their diet. They will feed on insects, worms, crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, and other fish.

How to catch catfish; tackle

Tackle for catfish varies depending on the size of the fish being targeted. For most serious catfish anglers, medium heavy conventional tackle is the best choice. Landing a large blue catfish or flathead catfish near heavy cover will requires some stout tackle. A 7 foot medium heavy rod with a matching conventional reel spooled up with 40-60 pound braided line is a good all-around combination.

Click on the link to purchase this recommended conventional outfit.

fishing for catfish

Spinning tackle can certainly be used, especially for anglers targeting smaller channel catfish. 7 foot to 8 foot spinning rods matched with 4000 series reels spooled up with 25 pound braided line work well in multiple applications when targeting catfish. This outfit is light enough to enjoy the fight of a 5 pound channel cat while still giving an angler a chance should they hook a trophy catfish. Below is a nice outfit at a reasonable price. Click the link to purchase this spinning outfit.

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Catfish rigs

For the most part, catfish are bottom feeders. They are built to cruise along on the bottom and forage for food. Therefore, anglers targeting catfish do well to present their baits on the bottom. Anglers can use different types of sinkers and different rigs to present their baits naturally and effectively on the bottom. Experienced anglers do their rigging at home before the fishing trip. They then use special boxes to keep them neat and ready to go when needed.

catfish rigs and leaders

Leaders rigged and ready to go!

Probably the most commonly used an effective rig is a sliding sinker rig or “Carolina rig”. This rig employs a sinker with a hole in the center. A swivel is tied onto the end of the running line. A leader is then used between the swivel and the hook. This allows the bait to move naturally in the current. It also lets the catfish pick up the bait and move off a bit without feeling the resistance of the sinker.

catfish leaders

Top rig: sliding sinker rig with no-roll sinker Bottom rig; sliding sinker rig with float and rattle

The other commonly used rig is a “spreader” rig, also known as a “chicken rig” in the South. This rig suspends baits up off the bottom. Where legal, multiple hooks can be used to cover the bottom few feet of the water column. Most anglers using a spreader rig use a bank sinker.

fishing for catfish

Catfish sinkers

Anglers have a couple of choices when it comes to sinkers when using sliding sinker rigs. Egg sinkers have been used for many years and still work fine. However, no-roll and coin sinkers have gained in popularity of late. These sinkers lie flat on the bottom. They tend to result in less line twist and snags.

Sinker slides are a clever little device that allow anglers to change sinker size quickly and easily. It is a small plastic tube that slides on the main running line. It has a clip where the sinker can be added. This makes changing sinker weight to match the current conditions quite simple.

whisker bomb

Whisker bomb, used for precise bait placement

Sinker weight will be determined by several factors, primarily water depth and current speed. The general rule is to use the minimum amount of weight required for the bait to reach and hold bottom. As current strength and depth of water changes, so will the required weight. Of course, anglers casting out from the bank will add distance needed to the list of fishing sinker requirements.

Leaders and hooks for catfish

Leader strength and hook size will depend on the size of the bait being used and the size of the fish being targeted. An 18 inch long leader is a good all-around choice, though anglers can go longer or shorter depending on the circumstances. Shorter leaders work better and heavy current and around structure such as fallen trees. Some anglers prefer to use a longer leader, up to 5 feet long, and at a small float near the end to lift the bait up off the bottom.

fishing for catfish

Hooks come in a myriad of sizes, strength, and designs. The two most commonly used hook types are “J” hooks and circle hooks. “J” hooks have been around a long time and are your basic stout short shank live bait hooks. Circle hooks have become more popular of late. There is evidence to show that circle hooks result in more fish being hooked in the mouth, reducing catfish mortality.

A #1/0 or #2/0 short shank live bait hook or a #5/0 circle hook are good choices for anglers targeting channel catfish and using smaller baits such as nightcrawlers. A larger #5/0 live bait hook or #8/0 circle hook is a better choice for anglers targeting larger fish with larger baits. It is a tad confusing, but sizing for “J” hooks and circle hooks is a bit different.

Advanced catfish bottom rigs

While the simple slider and spreader rigs catch plenty of catfish, experienced anglers and those fishing tournaments have a few extra tricks to enhance their presentation. A Whisker Bomb is used when precise bait placement is desired. The weight right at the hook eliminates the bait swinging back on a leader.

catfish fishing rigs

Other devices can be placed inline between the hook and the swivel. These add flash and action and float the bait up off of the bottom. Demon Dragon and Whisker Wobbler are two examples of this. Leader lengths vary to get the bait up off of the bottom the desired amount.

How to catch catfish, best catfish baits

As previously mentioned, catfish have a varied diet. This ability to adapt to a number of forage sources is a key element in their prolific numbers. Catfish baits can be broken down into several categories; live bait, cut bait, and prepared baits. Many different baits are effective and productive when targeting catfish. Most anglers try to have several different baits as every day is different and one bait may prove to be more productive than another on a given day.

Live baits for catfish

Catfish bait

Nightcrawlers are very productive live bait for catfish and just about every other freshwater species. They are easily obtained at bait shops and even larger retail stores. They are easy to keep alive as long as they are kept in a cool place. Nightcrawlers are generally threaded on and hooked through the body several times. This allows the juices to leech out into the water, helping to attract the catfish.

Live bait fish are very effective and are the baits of choice for anglers targeting trophy catfish. While channel cats will take a large live bait, more often than not a large blue catfish or flathead catfish will be the target. Commercially raised minnows can be bought at bait shops. However, most serious trophy catfish anglers catch their own creek chubs or suckers and use those as bait. It is important to check local regulations to make sure that local laws are being obeyed.

catfish bait

Crawfish are another fantastic live bait for catfish. This is especially true for channel catfish, which are often found in flowing streams and small rivers. They are generally hooked through the tail and drifted naturally with the current. Crawfish can be purchased occasionally, but most are caught by anglers using traps. Small frogs, salamanders, and tadpoles are other effective live baits.

Using cut bait for catfish

Just about any fish that is an effective live bait can be just as effective when used as a cut bait. Suckers and chub minnows are prime examples. Many anglers prefer oily fish such as shad and herring. In the south, mullet are a popular cut bait for anglers targeting catfish. Again, anglers should check local regulations to ensure that the laws are being followed.

While frozen bait can be used, in most instances fresh dead bait is the best choice. This usually requires anglers to catch their own, though sometimes bait is available at local shops. Once acquired, the bait fish is either cut into strips or chunks. Both approaches are effective, it is mostly a matter of angler preference.

catfish fishing

Anglers can also acquire catfish bait at the grocery store. Liver is an excellent catfish bait! Chicken livers work well, but pork liver stays on the hook a bit better. Is a very inexpensive bait. Shrimp are a bit more expensive, but are another excellent catfish bait. Ivory soap is an old-school catfish bait!

Prepared catfish baits

There are also commercially prepared catfish baits on the market. In days past, these were referred to as “stink baits”. That nickname was well earned as some of these baits smell awful! They are messy, though effective. There are different methods used to present these baits.

One great alternative is to use Catfish Bubblegum. This is a product developed by fishing ladies catfish expert Rachelle (AKA Guppy) and her husband. It has a long shelf life, is easy to use, stays on the hook well, does not smell, and most importantly, catches fish! All pink, no stink is their motto.

catfish bubblegum

Dough balls are an age-old catfish bait. Recipes for dough balls are closely guarded secrets among catfish anglers. Most consist of flour, water, and some type of scent, with anise oil being a top choice. Dough balls are effective, but do not stay on the hook as long as some other baits.

Top catfish species

While all three catfish species, channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish are similar, there are enough differences in location and feeding habits to cover all three separately.

Channel catfish

Channel catfish are by far the most widely distributed of the three catfish species. They are found throughout the United States and Canada. Channel catfish can tolerate a wide range of environments. Their ideal waters are large creeks, small to midsize rivers, and ponds and small lakes. Channel catfish average around 3 pounds with the current world record being 58 pounds. This fish was caught in Santee-Cooper reservoir in South Carolina.

fishing for channel catfish

Channel catfish are fairly easy to distinguish from blue catfish and flathead catfish. They have a deeply forked tail, similar to a blue catfish. However, the coloring is quite different. Channel catfish are a slate gray to olive in color with a white underbelly. Black spots are normally present, except in the largest specimens. Channel catfish also have a protruding upper jaw.

Like most fish, channel catfish spawn in the springtime. They prefer water temperature of around 75 degrees. Nests are made by the male fish in in some type of structure. Rocks, rip rap, fallen timber, and undercut banks are prime spots. Once the eggs are laid, the male guards the nest.

channel catfish fishing

Juvenile channel catfish feed mostly on insects. As they grow, their diet becomes very diverse. This is certainly one of the keys to the success of the species. They will feed on just about any live prey that they run across. They are also not above scavenging off the bottom.

Blue catfish

Blue catfish are normally found in larger river systems and lakes. Large river systems in the middle of the country such as the Ohio River, Missouri River, and Mississippi River all have good populations of blue catfish. They have been successfully stocked all over North America, offering anglers the chance to catch a true trophy fish.

fishing for blue catfish

Blue catfish are apex predators. They are very large and consume considerable amounts of prey. They are actually considered to be a problem in some areas, particularly the Rappahannock River in Virginia, where they are displacing native species. Blue catfish are commonly caught to 25 pounds but can easily exceed 100 pounds. The world record blue catfish is a 143 pound beast that was caught in Buggs Island Reservoir.

Blue catfish have a forked tail. Smaller fish can be confused with channel catfish. However, blue catfish do not have spots. Like channel catfish, most anglers consider them both a predator and a scavenger. Mature blue catfish do feed primarily on bait fish. Blue catfish spawn and similar areas to channel catfish. They often times live to be 30 years old.

fishing for blue catfish

A large blue catfish will put up a terrific battle. Anglers targeting a trophy fish will need to use fairly heavy gear. Most trophy blue catfish are caught by anglers using bait fish. A large live bait fish will not draw many strikes, but will attract larger fish. Fresh cut bait is extremely effective as well.

Flathead catfish

Flathead catfish also grow quite large, with the world record being 123 pounds. It was caught in the Elk City Reservoir in Kansas. They are also known as “yellow catfish”. Flathead catfish are fairly easy to distinguish from blue catfish and channel catfish. Flathead catfish are found in larger river systems throughout the middle part of the country.

fishing for catfish

As their name implies, they have a large, flat head. They are generally light yellow to light brown in color, thus the nickname “yellow catfish”. They also have a protruding lower jaw with a tail that is notched instead of being deeply forked.

Flathead catfish very significantly from blue catfish and channel catfish in their dietary habits. They feed exclusively on live bait fish. They are less opportunistic and do not scavenge on the bottom. Flathead catfish spawn a bit later in the year as well, preferring water temperatures up to 80°.

flathead catfish fishing

Mature flathead catfish are loners. They will stake out a prime ambush spot under a fallen tree, undercut bank, or other heavy structure. Flathead catfish prefer deeper holes and slow-moving water. They will move up into very shallow water at night to feed. While flathead catfish can be taken by anglers using cut bait, large live bait fish are preferred.

Fishing for catfish, locations

Catfish can be caught in a wide variety of environments. They are landed by anglers fishing in the smallest of creeks as well as the largest lakes in the country. Slow-moving, mid-sized rivers are prime habitat. Tailwaters are fantastic spots to target catfish as well.

How to catch catfish in rivers

Rivers are great waters to target catfish. Anglers fishing in rivers have an advantage over those fishing and lakes; there is simply much less water in which to search for fish. Small rivers in particular are excellent spots to target catfish, especially for novice anglers.

Outside bends in rivers are the top spots in most cases. The current flow gouges out and undercut bank as well is a deep hole on the outside bends of river channels. This results in these areas often times being the deepest portions of the river. Additionally, current deposits debris such as fallen trees and other cover which then accumulates in these holes. This is perfect catfish habitat.

fishing for catfish in rivers

Anglers can have great success by simply moving from one outside corner or bend to the next. Generally speaking, the straight portions of rivers tend to be less attractive to fish. There is nothing of interest to hold them, unless there is a significant depth change or other feature that will attract fish.

Larger rivers are a completely different situation. These rivers can be dangerous and angler should always put safety first! Strong currents and eddies along with unseen hazards can create a very dangerous situation. Commercial barge traffic is often present. However, some of the largest catfish in the world are caught in large rivers.

Outside bends are less of an issue in large rivers as they are in small rivers. Catfish will relate more to underwater bars, sunken debris and other structure, holes, ledges, points, bridges, and anything else that will break up the current and give them a good ambush location.

River conditions affect catfish

Conditions are an important factor when river fishing for catfish and other species. Water height and flow will have an impact on fish movements as well as being a safety consideration. During periods of high water, which is often times in the spring, fish will move out of the main river channels to escape the strong current. Sloughs and backwater areas off of the main channel will be better spots to fish. This can also be a dangerous time to be out an angler should be extra careful!

fishing for river catfish

Conversely, during periods of low water catfish will congregate in the deeper areas of rivers. There simply will not be enough water on the shallow bars and flats to hold them. This often occurs in summer when the water is warm. The deeper holes will be cooler, which is another factor that will attract and hold fish.

Bait presentation is important in rivers, whether anglers or fishing from a boat or from shore. In most cases, the best technique is to approach the structure or area to be fished from the up current side. The bait is then presented downstream to the fish, with the bait being placed just ahead of the structure. This will result in the current taking the scent of the bait downstream to the fish and hopefully pulling it out away from the structure. Presenting the bait right in the structure will often result in a snag.

How to catch catfish in lakes

Lakes throughout North America offer anglers excellent opportunities to catch all three major species of catfish. Targeting catfish and large lakes can be overwhelming as there is so much area to be covered. However, lakes often produce the largest catfish. The primary reason for this is simple, forage.

Many lakes, particularly Southern impoundments, are full of shad and herring that were stocked as forage for striped bass. This has resulted in an outstanding environment for catfish to thrive in.

bank fishing

Catfish are similar to other game fish in that they have the same basic needs. They prefer some type of structure that they can relate to. Cover and structure offer fish a feeling of safety along with a spot from which to ambush prey. While catfish are fairly tolerant to a wide range of water temperature, water that is either very warm or very cold will affect their movements and behavior.

The same types of spots that produce striped bass, largemouth bass, and other game fish species will hold catfish as well. These include bends in the sunken river channel, long sloping points, bluff banks, flats, bridges, docks, artificial reefs or fish attractors, the mouths of creeks are rivers entering the lakes, and deeper holes.

Catfish migrations in lakes

Catfish do have a seasonal migration in most lakes. As it warms up in the spring, they move up into the rivers, creeks, and tributaries in order to spawn. Areas with gravel or rocky bottom are prime spots. Once the spawning process is completed, catfish will scatter out into the main lake areas. During summer, catfish will often be found in the deepest portions of the lake, particularly near the dam. This area of the lake is often the deepest, coolest, and will attract the most bait.

As it cools off in the fall, catfish will once again move shallow as the water temperatures drop. Large flats in 10 feet of water to 15 feet of water adjacent to deep channel edges are great spots to try. Tributary mouths along with sloping points are also high percentage catfish spots in the fall. Striped bass often times will be seen schooling on the surface this time of year. Catfish can often times be found under the schools of feeding fish, gorging on the easy scraps.

catfish fishing

Anglers targeting catfish in lakes have one advantage over river anglers; they can put out multiple lines behind the boat and off to the sides in search of fish. Often times, anglers fishing and rivers can only put out a couple of lines due to the current. However, this is not to case and lakes. Depending on local laws, anglers can put out quite a spread and cover a large area of water from a single location. This will help the catfish angler dial in the depth, presentation, and bait that is most effective on that outing.

How to catch catfish in tailwaters

Tailwaters are fantastic spots to fish for catfish as well as just about every other freshwater species. Fish just naturally are attracted to current, and catfish are no exception. Flowing water gives game fish an advantage over bait fish. The water flowing through and/or over a dam can be quite swift. Catfish are well adapted to maneuver in this environment and they will feed heavily on the available forage.

fishing in tailwaters for catfish

Often times, bait fish such as shad, herring, bluegill, and other species can get chopped up going through the turbines of a hydroelectric dam. This provides an easy meal for catfish and other species as they lie in the current at the base of the dam and wait for the buffet to begin.

Boating in tailwaters can be dangerous! Anglers should always heed warnings and never anchor the boat from the stern. In many cases, these areas are accessible from shore. This is an excellent opportunity for anglers without a boat to have the chance to catch a big fish. Any lake or river system that has a decent population of catfish should have excellent fishing in the tail water area below the dam.

In conclusion, this article, “How to catch Catfish, a comprehensive Guide” will help anglers all over North America have more success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing for River Catfish, Tips and Techniques

Fishing for river catfish, tips and techniques

Many angler associate rivers with catching catfish. This article on fishing for river catfish will explore two of the top catfish rivers in North America. The red River and Ohio Rivers are two very productive catfish rivers.

channel catfish fishing

Red River Catfish Tips

This article shares Red River catfish tips, tackle, and techniques. The Red River is acknowledged as the “channel catfish capital of the world”. While this piece focuses on the Red River, these techniques will produce for anglers targeting catfish anywhere.

The Red River flows north between Minnesota and North Dakota. It empties into Lake Winnepeg in Manitoba. The river offers excellent fishing in the United States, but anglers seeking a trophy channel cat will do well heading to the Manitoba portion of the Red River. The statistics tell the tale; the Red River gives up the majority of trophy catfish in the region. Anglers looking to catch catfish on the Red River can access it at many different points. The Red River is a relatively slow moving river, often muddy. It is perfect channel catfish habitat. There is plenty of access and shore bound anglers can experience success. Boats are nice, but not required.  

fishing for river catfish

Anne is our Fishing Ladies northern catfish contributor. She is a professional tournament angler from Billings, Montana. She has fished the Scheels Boundary Battle on the Red River in Grand Forks North Dakota for the past three years. Anne catches more than her share of trophy cats, along with many other species available to Red River anglers. She is sharing her wealth of knowledge here for you!  

Red River catfish by region

While the entire Red River, both in the United Sates and Canada, can be quite productive, there is a small stretch that makes the river famous. The area from the route 101 Bridge to the Route 4 Bridge in Manitoba offers anglers the opportunity for epic catfish fishing. Though it is a short stretch and it gets a fair amount of fishing pressure, there is plenty of room for visiting anglers to enjoy this unique experience. Fishing in the United States portion of the Red River is excellent for catfish as well. It also offers opportunities for many other species.

fishing for freshwater catfish

Fishing baits and techniques for catfish and this portion of the Red River are pretty much the same as in the Canadian stretch. Anglers can find detailed maps with access points and other fishing information HERE.   There is a dam at the town of Lockport. This is the only obstruction on the Red River. The tailwater stretch of river below the dam is a top spot for catfish anglers. Despite the popularity of this spot, anglers have a great chance to score on a ten pound catfish on a daily basis. Fish to 15 pounds are common and 20 pound cats are caught on a daily basis.

Red River catfish conservation

North Dakota, Minnesota, and Canada have all recognized incredible opportunity this fishery offers and they work together to regulate the size and quantity of fish that are taken on a daily basis. Utilizing a slot limit, the fishing game departments have allowed the fishery to thrive, while still offering the angler a chance to catch the fish of a lifetime!   These groups also work together to tag and monitor the movements of channel catfish through the Red River basin.

brad

Grand Forks guide Brad Durick works with the DNR as well to track and monitor those channel catfish tags. He catches many catfish each year that were tagged in both the United States and Canada. Their research has shown that Channel cats travel much further than previously believed. Brad is a coordinator for the Sheels Boundary Battle tournament. His website is a good source for Red River anglers.

Red River catfish tips; seasons

While the Red River can be productive for much of the year, and recommends the time from May to early June and late July to early October as the prime times to fish Spring can be difficult as a river floods regularly and the fish generally go to spawn in late June. These factors result in more difficult conditions to catch fish. The river is relatively shallow with an average depth of 18 feet. It is also relatively narrow, with a width of 50 to 100 feet in the section that and fishes.

fishing for channel catfish

This is generally the case for much of the Red River in the central portion of the North Dakota and Minnesota border. This is one factor that makes it fairly easy to fish.   Many anglers are mistaken in thinking that catching a catfish is just a matter of putting out some stinky bait and having a beer while waiting for a bite. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, a few fish will be caught this way. However, successful catfish anglers are constantly refining and adjusting their baits and presentations.

River catfish rods and reels

Anglers fishing for river catfish will use two basic outfits. Boating anglers will do well with a 7′ medium heavy conventional rig such as the one listed below. Click on the link to purchase it.

Spinning outfits are more versatile and can be used by anglers fishing from both shore and a boat. Obviously, spinning outfits are much easier to cast. Click on the link to purchase this spinning outfit.

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon”

Red River catfish techniques

Red river channel catfish received quite a bit of pressure. They often times do not respond to the standard “stink baits”and prefer a nice juicy chunk of fresh cut sucker or chub minnow. Ann does use Bradley’s Catfish bubblegum, an effective non-stink bait. Anglers can see more about it HERE.

Catfish Bubblegum

A standard catfish rig of a large hook (and uses Hookers Terminal Tackle 8/0-10/0 Mad Catter hooks) on a 12 inch to 18 inch leader. This is attached to the main line with a swivel, and front of which she slides on a no roll sinker. 3 ounce to 5 ounce sinkers work well and most situations.

catfish leaders

Adding a peg float to the leader line will often entice those picky catfish into taking the bait when a normal bottom presentation fails to draw strike. Other tricks include using a Demon Dragon rattle float in place of the peg float. These floats, or line rattles, at a bit of noise and motion that will trigger a reaction bite in the bigger males, especially if used during the spawn, when fish are more difficult to catch.  

Catching Red River catfish from shore

One great thing about the Red River is that anglers without a boat can be just as successful as those with a boat. Access is easy for those fishing from the banks. There are numerous public fishing access sites along the Red River in every major town from Fargo to the Canadian border. A visit to the North Dakota or Minnesota Fish and game websites will give the angler a great idea of where to start.

catfish fishing rigs

In Grand Forks in particular, there is a city managed Greenway through the entire length of the river that offers walking pass, benches along the riverside, and historic markers that indicate significant points of interest. Grand Forks was devastated by Red River floodwaters in 1996. Evidence of the power of the river flood can be seen in many different areas of town and its surroundings.

Red River catfish techniques

Angling techniques are similar for both boating and shore bound anglers. Those fishing from boats will often target cover, especially on the outside bends in the river. These areas are naturally deeper and the debris offers protection from the high, fast-moving water. The best approach is to anchor up current from the area that is going to be fished and cast down into the snag or hold being targeted Water level and the corresponding current flow will dictate where the fish will stage up. When the water is high, fast, and dirty, catfish will seek refuge from the current. Sloughs and eddies will be the best spots. The catfish can sit in a good ambush spot without expending a lot of energy.

whisker bomb

Also, anglers will find it much easier fishing these spots when the current is fast. Conversely, low water will concentrate the fish in the deeper areas of the river. This is a great time to target these big catfish as there is simply less area in which to look for them. Deeper holes on the outside bends are prime spots to set up during periods of low water. Low water often coincides with warmer water temperatures. Catfish are generally more active during the night during this time. Areas with cooler water will provide daytime action. The shady side of the river with overhanging brush can be a good spot to try.

Additional Red River species

While channel catfish get a majority of the attention, the Red River offers visiting anglers the opportunity to catch several other species as well. The fall walleye run can be legendary as fish to ten pounds are taken regularly. The mighty sturgeon may intercept your offering meant for a catfish. Bullhead, burbot, carp, freshwater drum, goldeye, northern pike, rock bass, sauger, and white bass are also available.

Ohio catfish fishing tips with Joanna

This article will share some great Ohio catfish fishing tips. Catfish are a very popular freshwater species and are growing in popularity all over the country.

Catfish are a warm water freshwater species that are abundant in the state of Ohio and throughout the country. They are being targeted more than ever before. Tournaments for catfish are becoming more common. Channel catfish, Flathead catfish, and blue catfish are the most commonly caught catfish species in the United States. Catfish thrive in both Ohio lakes and rivers.

flathead catfish fishing

Joanna Rafeld is our Fishing Ladies Ohio catfish expert. She was born in Canton, Ohio and has lived there her entire life. Joanna knows these waters well. She is a VERY enthusiastic catfish angler! This is her story;

I’m 31 years old born and raised in Ohio. I am divorced and have 4 children. During my divorce, I started nursing school after being a Phlebotomist for 8 years and I have been a Registered Nurse for 5 years. I began fishing with my dad and grandpa before I can remember and most of my fondest childhood memories involved an old pontoon on the lake just about every weekend. Memories include sleeping on the boat and hearing the bell on my dads fishing pole start ringing and the boat simultaneously would start rocking under me as he ran for his rod.

Targeting trophy catfish

During my divorce I began fishing more often and started learning my own techniques of how to be a successful fisherman. Once, I read a quote that said “Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.” Being by the water and fishing, whether catching fish or not, is the most relaxing, and often rewarding, places I have found. I started catching Ohio catfish about 6 years ago, mainly channel cats in ponds or lakes in the Muskingum Watershed.

fishing for catfish in rivers

I recently began targeting trophy flathead catfish and tournament catfishing about 3 years ago. Currently, I am a sponsored angler by Reddi Bait located in Bridgewater, PA, Anvil Rods, and Beaver Marine in Magnolia, Ohio. River fishing is my favorite, though I do fish in lakes as well. I am strictly catch and release and am an advocate for large catfish conservation.”

After our spring fishing season kicks off in Ohio I keep my rods, cast net and a bucket in my minivan. I do this in case I see a new bait hole or have a few minutes to throw a line out. Most of my friends call me crazy and don’t understand why I love catching Ohio catfish so much. Being a female angler can be controversial at times. I’ve found many fishermen don’t take women that enjoy fishing seriously.”

More women seeking catfish

Meanwhile, the female fisherman that spends hours upon hours catching bait, rigging rods, and catching record sized fish is overlooked because she is in a hoodie and thermal pants. I think more women would love the sport of fishing if we removed the stigma of what a “fisherman” is to most. Hopefully, with the recent increase in publicity of lady angling, the number of female fisherman will go up as well.

fishing for blue catfish

I take my kids to catch bait with me most days and we camp and fish often during the summer. I hope I am creating the memories that I was fortunate to have as a child. Catching Ohio catfish is not only my hobby but it is my passion and I enjoy sharing it with my family and friends. There is nothing I love more than watching someone reel in a new personal best fish. I personally prefer the quality over quantity of catfishing.

I generally use large live bait, and would much rather catch one 50lb flathead instead of twenty small channel cats in one night. Sometimes, that doesn’t work in my favor and I may not catch anything by using large baits and waiting on that new state record flathead to bury my rod, and I’m okay with that.

Ohio Catfish tackle

I prefer 7’-6” medium/heavy graphite casting rod with 65lb braid and a 12-16in 30lb monofilament leader. Anvil Rods and Lews baitcaster reels have worked well for me. I also use sinker slides, swivel, and coin sinkers varying in weight from 2-10oz on my rigs depending on the conditions and type of water that I am fishing. I use 8-10/0 Offset circle hooks for flathead and 5-8/0 circle hooks for channel cats. On occasion I will use a rattle or peg float depending on what the fish are looking for that day.

bank fishing

Baitcasters can be tricky and some anglers prefer to use spinning reels. They are easier to cast long distances than conventional and you don’t have the possibility of backlash and bird nesting your reel, which can take hours to correct. An 8′ medium/heavy action rod, 4000 to 5000 series reel spooled up with 50 lb braid is a good all-round spinning outfit for catching Ohio catfish.

Fresh bait is the best for catching catfish

I use a cast net to catch my fresh live bait which is primarily suckers, shad, and creek chubs. Different times of year the fish prefer live bait over frozen or cut bait and vice versa. My personal favorite bait is a live 8-10 inch sucker. Throwing a cast net takes a lot of practice and a lot of nets. Reddi Bait in Bridgewater, PA can handle the bait for you if you’re short on time or unable to throw a cast net. They carry live bait as well as frozen shad and skipjack and all of the terminal tackle you need for catfishing.

Catfish bait

If you can’t make it to Reddi Bait, live nightcrawlers, shrimp, hotdogs, and chicken livers can be found just about anywhere and should produce channel catfish. There are many baits available in stores and even new products are coming out everyday. Catfish Bubblegum is a new product that is the first “all pink, no stink” catfish bait. It appears easy to use and has no smell like most “stink baits”.

River catfish vs lake catfish

While catfish are found in both rivers and lake environments, tactics are a bit different. River catfish will use current to their advantage. They will hold in eddies, holes, and around wood. Lake catfish relate more to rock structure. Successful catfish anglers should understand the differences in order to catch the trophy fish we are all looking for.

River catfish tactics in Ohio

A few differences between lake and river fishing in Ohio that I’ve found is that in a river you generally battle strong current, heavy debris, barge traffic, and other large species possibly taking your bait. But, with the unpredictability of the river also comes great reward. You can catch multiple trophy flathead catfish in one night opposed to on the lake you may sit for 12 hours and catch one fish, or none.

river catfish

River conditions have a huge influence on catfish productivity. When the water is high, fast, and full of debris, fishing can be tough. Catfish will seek out protected water such as eddies and tributaries when the river is raging. Rivers can also be very dangerous under these conditions. If fishing the river in less than ideal weather be sure to have a boat and anchors that can hold in the fast current and always wear a life jacket. Before fishing on the Ohio River you should also become familiar with barges and the dangers of fishing in the barge channel or around barges that aren’t in use.

Conversely, when the water is low, fish typically congregate in the deeper holes and channels. The Ohio river has many tributaries and large catfish often use them to feed. Catfish anglers use the river current in our favor and will hard anchor and cast off the back of the boat which lets the current carry the scent of your bait, luring catfish towards you.

Under normal river conditions, catfish will hold in several locations. Outside bends in the river are prime spots, especially if cover is present. Other productive spots in rivers are the heads and tails of holes or ledges, creek mouths, barges, and sunken structure.

Fishing for catfish in Ohio lakes

When lake fishing in Ohio there is a thermocline. A thermocline is like an invisible line between the warmer water at the surface and the cooler deep water below. Lakes endure seasonal water temperature changes and when water temperatures rises in early summer, so does the density between that surface layer and the deeper layers.

fishing for catfish

The surface water gets hot and forms a thermal energy which opposes wind energy and when this happens the water doesn’t mix very far down. The warm top layer has good oxygen, and little temperature change. While below that layer is colder water with poor oxygen levels. On the cusp of that is what they consider the thermocline.

Catfish will lay right at the thermocline and feed during the day sometimes going below to cool off but never for very long. To work with the thermocline to catch catfish you would want to suspend your bait just above the temperature drop. If your bait goes below the thermocline it will inevitably die due to lack of oxygen.

Ohio catfish fishing tips; Thermocline fishing

If you have a depth finder you can visibly see the thermocline and can adjust your floats to ensure you stay above the thermocline. If you don’t have a depth finder or are fishing from the bank it might take a little trial and error before figuring out where that thermocline is. I suggest staggering your baits so you have some variability and whether they’re above, below, or on the edge of the thermocline you will find them. The thermocline can be tricky and frustrating but very rewarding during the dog days of summer.

Our state record Flathead was caught out of a Muskingum Watershed lake and we typically see much larger fish in lakes opposed to rivers here. Early spring flatheads are found mostly in shallow back waters. Pre-Spawn and Post spawn they can still be caught in slack shallow water but are primarily targeted near heavy structure, deep holes, ledges, or wood.

Catfish anglers seeking numbers of fish in lakes as opposed to a trophy should change tactics just a bit. Hook sizes can be dropped down to a 3/0-5/0. The top baits when seeking numbers of channel catfish in the lake are shrimp, hotdogs, and night crawlers. Some people can even use crappie jigs to jig catfish! I’ve never personally done that but have seen it work for some.

Ohio Catfish species

While the three catfish species are similar, they do have different habits and diets.

Flathead catfish

Flathead catfish are the only catfish of these three species that doesn’t have a forked tail it is slightly notched. Their bottom jaw protrudes out like an “under bite”. They vary in color but are generally a brownish yellow mottled color. They have a “flat head” and can be referred to as shovel head or yellow cat. Like most catfish, they are a bottom dwelling fish. They are a predatory fish and will sometime stalk their prey before eating it, as a general rule they prefer live bait. They can be finicky eaters and mostly feed in shallow waters at night but during the day they travel to deeper water and hide among structure. Popular baits include shad, suckers, blue gill, goldfish, mooneye, skipjack, and crappie.

Blue catfish

Blue catfish have a forked tail and protruding upper jaw. They are a blue color varying in shades of gray and even white. They are often confused with channels but Blues do not have speckles or spots like the channel and they have a straight anal fin. Blues also grow to over 100lbs. They are found mostly in rivers or large lakes or reservoirs they can be found over rocks, sand or wood piles. Blues are considered opportunistic feeders they primarily eat live or fresh cut shad or other fish.

Channel catfish

Channels also have a deep forked tail and have a protruding upper jaw. They vary in color but are often a grey/brown colors and some have speckles or black spots. Their bellies are usually white or silvery and they have a curved anal fin. Channels are not picky eaters and are actually omnivorous. They are the smallest and easiest of these 3 species to catch. They are also bottom dwellers and typically are found in rock piles, log jams, and seaweed. Channels will eat smaller cut baits like shad, suckers, bluegill, but also eat insects, worms, crawfish, hotdogs, stink baits, even some plants.

Catfish pressure

Many very popular catfish rivers get a lot of pressure. The popularity of catching catfish is exploding. Regulations need to keep pace with the demand. This is especially true with the trophy fish in each lake or river system. Those big fish are crucial to the fishery., it is important to release them and if desired, keep a couple small ones for dinner. They are much better to eat anyway.

The Red River on the North Dakota/Minnesota border and into Canada is a prime example of a trophy catfish fishery that is highly managed and remains incredibly productive.

I would really like to emphasize that I catch, picture and release or “CPR” all of my fish. I do not discourage harvesting fish to provide meals for yourself or family. 2-6lb catfish are the ideal size for “eater fish”. Anything larger than that will be tough, gamey, and an undesirable flavor. It takes many years for catfish to reach “trophy”  size.

There has been a rise in the paylake industry over the years which has proven to be detrimental to the catfish population in our rivers. Across the country commercial fishermen are using gill nets, trot lines, and whatever means necessary to remove trophy flatheads and blues from our rivers and sell them to paylakes. Big fish need big water to thrive and paylakes are a fishbowl compared to the miles of rivers these fish have lived in for 20-30 years.

Problems with catfish pay lakes

Some paylakes admit to using excessive amounts of copper sulfate to burn the gills of the catfish to make them more aggressive and send them into a feeding frenzy. These fish are then caught over and over and over until they die which is not long after their arrival. I encourage everyone to research paylakes. Anglers need to stand with myself and fellow fishermen to help increase the regulations for commercial fishing trophy catfish in our rivers.

I want to help educate people on the importance of preserving these big fish. Without CPR and new regulations regarding paylakes and commercial fishing for large catfish, I fear that my children will never get to catch the magnificent fish that we see today.

In conclusion, this article on fishing for river catfish will help you catch some trophy catfish!