John's Journal...


Small Streams and Little Rivers

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Watermelon, iced tea, suntan lotion, sunglasses and fishing for catfish comes to mind when the sun climbs high in the sky, and the mercury heads for the 100-degree mark. Many anglers believe that to catch catfish in the summer you simply throw a stink bait out on the bottom of any river. But to consistently catch more cats on every outing, you need to know where the fish most likely will occur, what they're most likely to eat in these spots, and what conditions cause them to feed most actively. Catfish like to eat almost anything. To catch catfish, determine the natural baits in the river you're fishing, and fish them first. Check with local anglers and sporting-goods stores to learn what baits catfish bite in that region at that time of the year. Several other factors affect when and what catfish eat. The temperature of the water governs how actively catfish feed, because the enzyme action in a catfish's stomach doubles with each 8-degree increase in water temperature. The hotter the weather becomes, the more catfish feed. Since most catfish prefer a dark habitat, they eat mostly at night during the hottest, sunniest weather.

Click to enlargeSome of the most overlooked, highly-productive areas to catch plenty of catfish are in the thousands of small streams and little rivers -- perhaps no more than 20-yards wide -- throughout the nation. You'll often find these streams close to home or within easy driving distance. The fisheries sections of your state game and fish commission usually can tell you the location of small streams and little rivers in your state that may hold cats. If you're planning on fishing for river catfish in other states while on vacation, call and check with their departments of conservation, or visit their websites online. You can pinpoint catfish hotspots -- like a current break -- from the banks of these small waters.

Click to enlargeSeveral years ago on a family camping trip near our home, I took my two children fishing along the small stream where we camped. As we walked along the bank, I spotted a large boulder about 10 feet from the bank that broke the current and formed an eddy pool on the down-current side. I cast a live redworm out to the eddy pool and instantly hooked a catfish. For 1-1/2-hours, we continued to catch catfish from that one eddy hole behind the boulders. As we moved downstream, we fished behind logs, rocks and any current breaks we could find and caught plenty of cats all day long.

Click to enlargeYou also can successfully fish small waters for catfish by floating them in a canoe or a flat-bottomed johnboat equipped with a depth finder. Use the depth finder to locate sharp bottom breaks and underwater boulders. Once you've pinpointed these places, anchor upstream, and let your bait wash into these regions where cats normally hold. These underwater cat hotspots often go virtually unfished and generally hold plenty of cats for the catching.


Check back each day this week for more about SUMMERTIME RIVER CATS

Day 1: Small Streams and Little Rivers
Day 2: Large Rivers
Day 3: Below Dams
Day 4: Summertime River-Catfish Baits
Day 5: Other Summertime River-Catfish Baits



Entry 310, Day 1