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Spring 2016 Channel Cats primer
04-08-2016, 03:41 PM (This post was last modified: 04-08-2016 03:48 PM by OldTimer.)
Post: #1
Spring 2016 Channel Cats primer
2016 Spring Channel Cats 101

Hopefully this aids someone............

The channel cat season will soon be in full swing in southern Ontario. In fact some fish are being caught now in a few calm water river mouth areas (early April 2016).

Even though you may have read that they spawn at temperatures above 70F – channel cat spring pre-spawn activity movement and feeding here begins in earnest when the water hits 50F (10C).

In an open river (or lake mouth shallows) – water temperature depends more on sunshine than on air temperature. For example – the air temperature this morning was below freezing and its currently 4C – yet my river is sitting at 6C as I type…… and it’s not all that sunny out. I see the long range forecast has an extended period of sunshine coming in a week… with mid teen temps during the day and above freezing every night………. That will get things hopping as the bigguns arrive with a hunger.

What is also needed to make fishing more rewarding (more caught) is lower flows that will allow a bait to rest without 6 ounces of lead. This lower flow also aids in scent dispersal current streams.

The tackle for bigger channel cats is far from sophisticated or delicate. The fish are not line shy or large hook shy at all……… if they find a bait that smells good to them they eat it (now!). So use line and hooks that have some oomph to them …… least 8lb test mono (I do,……. but I like a good challenging battle)– but most use 12 or 15 and 20 is not unheard of (braid isn’t necessary)……… 2/0 to 4/0 circle hooks……….. slip sinker rigs using a barrel swivel stop and at least half ounce egg sinkers (I use up to 4 oz sometimes for hold and distance).

Best bait is cut bait (chunks of dead freshwater fish that may reside locally). The reason being that it smells like the catfish’s regular and most often food. Sure – chicken livers, hotdogs and such work – but chunks of white sucker or river chub will outfish them handsdown. Fresh is best, but fresh frozen is super.

Hook the bait once through the skin making sure the hook point is well exposed.

Find a calmer current spot – cast it out and put your rod in a GOOD holder – the fish’s strike is hard. The holders I use could be used to tether a large German Shepard, or my weird brother in law.

Usually a bait will sit for at least 15 minutes before you see action – it takes a while for the fish to track down the source of the smell they like. But do check your bait once every half hour at max. and change it if it looks washed out.

You may sometimes get a few slight warning twitches (not nibbles) of an imminent strike as cats sometimes circle around a bait smelling it, inadvertently brushing the line, before they engulf the bait aggressively.

If your rod holder is not great (ie – a stick) – open your bail as larger fish, once they feel the hook, will bolt possibly taking your rod with them.

Most fish upon being hooked will try to run to cover (shore) or into snags, obstructions and brush/trees in the water.

I try to use a lip grabber to land cats as their spikes can really get snarled up in a net.

See ya out there……….



<>< I once gave up fishing. It was the most terrifying weekend of my life. ><>
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GailBait (04-12-2016)
04-09-2016, 01:50 PM
Post: #2
RE: Spring 2016 Channel Cats primer
Anxiously looking forward to a day of catfishing. After such an easy winter, this April weather is really getting on my nerves.
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04-11-2016, 09:50 AM
Post: #3
RE: Spring 2016 Channel Cats primer
I've found that the frozen sardines found in most supermarkets work great too. Cut and hook them the same as you would a sucker. They're usually oily enough to leave a slick once they thaw out, and I've found that they really draw catfish in. As a bonus, a $5 bag of sardines udually lasts 5 or 6 outings if kept frozen. Gulp! plastics have also worked well for me in the past (my favourite catfish hole also holds a healthy population of Walleye).
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04-11-2016, 05:35 PM
Post: #4
RE: Spring 2016 Channel Cats primer
hmmmm got me thinking now
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04-12-2016, 01:53 PM
Post: #5
RE: Spring 2016 Channel Cats primer
A few years ago a group of friends and I went to Dunnville in late March armed with all kinds of cut bait but were skunked by lack of experience and high water flow. We eased our bruised egos by catching a mess of bullheads near Grimsby.
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