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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Catching Channel Catfish In the Summer

I found this post over at, a great catfishing forum. And since, I haven't made a post about catfish yet, I figured this would be a good start. He wrote the article well, and I couldn't do better myself, so here is some tips for catching catfish in the summertime.

Most people associate summertime channel cats with a campfire and a comfy chair on a stuffy summer night. The usual can of worms are present and only a few small fish are caught. However, for those interested in catching more channel cats, more consistently, there is a solution!

You may find it surprising that you can catch more channel cats during the day. I know I caught your attention with that statement. I first read about channel catfishing during the day almost 5 years ago. I showed the article to a friend that loves fishing as much as I do. In less than an hour we were on the water trying it out. Remarkably it took him less than 5 minutes to catch his first one, and it was his biggest channel cat ever caught at that point. I’ll never forget how shocked I was to unhook that catfish for him. It has forever changed how I fish.

Why is it easier during the day?

The answer to this question is quite simple. Catfish are most active at night during the summer to avoid the heat of the day and the sunlight. This means that if you are fishing at night during the summer, unless you are fishing near a well known feeding area or are lucky enough to catch a few fish passing through on their way to a feeding area, your catch count will be rather low. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had some stellar nights but never as consistent as during the day.

Catfish will still actively feed during the day, but the main difference is they aren’t actively searching for it. They will gladly eat if it floats their way. During the day catfish will “hole up” as I like to say. They will be tight to structure, making it easier for you to find them. All you have to do is look for structure. Now isn’t that easier than sitting on the shore hoping one swims by?

If you own a boat catching a bunch of channel cats should be a breeze. Look for the best, downed trees or log jams in a 5-mile stretch of river. The best of the bunch should produce several catfish, while single trees may produce one or two. Anchor on the upstream side and cast your bait a few feet behind the tree. Be sure to leave a little room in case the fish tries to run into the tree so you don’t get snagged. Daytime fish will be surprisingly fast. I’ve caught fish without ever putting the rod in the rod holder. Most active fish will bite within five minutes. I normally sit in one location for 15-20 minutes depending on how the action has been. I use this time table whether I am setup on trees, humps, ledges, etc.

Don’t overlook ledges and drop-offs, especially those that have an abundance of rocks or trees nearby for the catfish to hide in. Normally you’ll find bigger fish in deeper water. I usually start my day fishing the deepest trees, boulders, and ledges and work my way shallow. Fishing the deepest available structure is especially important when fishing wing dams, one the biggest producers of daytime fish.

Take some time just motoring around looking for downed trees, mid depth ledges, wing dams, and any other fishy looking spots. Chances are good there are channel cats hiding beneath.

If you happen to be boat less fear not, you can still catch channel cats during the day. If your body of water is shallow enough to wade in I would recommend fishing riffle sections with large boulders and especially the “tail out”, which is the very end of the riffle where it begins to drop into the hole. In addition, if it’s safe you should try to fish downed trees and other things mentioned for boat fishing. You’ll be surprised how willing these fish are to bite during the day!

Bait for daytime catfishing is rather simple. Take along a few bluegill, suckers, or creek chubs to use as cut bait. Don’t cut the pieces too big, just a filet off the side will do. The blood and oils will reach the catfish through the current and they will swim out of the structure to pick up the bait. Set the hook and fight your first daytime channel catfish!

As always release all our trophy fish to grow bigger and preserve the future of fishing for our children!