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John's Journal... Entry 254, Day 1


Small Streams And Little Rivers

Editor's Note: "Don't want no bream or crappie, Only one fish that makes me happy: Catfish, catfish." (Taken from the musical "Pumpboys & Dinettes") Plenty of anglers across the U.S. share the sentiments of this song from "Pumpboys and Dinettes." They love the fun of matching baits to the seasons of the year and the places where they fish to catch cats, and they enjoy the delicious white meat of catfish. Although many anglers believe that throwing a stink bait out on the bottom of any river in the summer will catch catfish, to consistently take more cats on every outing, you need to know where the fish most likely will occur, what they will eat in these spots, and what conditions will cause them to feed most actively. You can check with biologists, local anglers and area sporting-goods stores to learn what catfish prefer to eat in your part of the state at each time of the year. Several 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. My friend, Phil King of Corinth, Mississippi, an expert angler and guide for catfish who primarily fishes Pickwick Lake on the Alabama/Mississippi/Tennessee border, says that during the summer you'll most likely catch big catfish an hour or two after daylight with the secondary peak time from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

You'll find numbers of small streams and little rivers across the U.S., often very close to home, some of the most-overlooked, highly-productive areas to catch numbers of catfish in the summer. You can pinpoint catfish hotspots, like a current break, from the banks of these small waters. Several years ago on a family camping trip near our home, I took two of my children walking along the small stream near where we camped. 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. Casting a live redworm out to the eddy pool, I 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 break we could find and caught plenty of cats all day long.

You also can successfully fish the nation's small waters in the summer by floating 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. Then anchor upstream, and let your bait wash into these regions where cats normally hold. These underwater catfish hot spots often go virtually unfished and generally hold plenty of cats for the catching.

To learn more about Phil King and his fishing and guide service, you can call him at (662) 286-8644, e-mail him at pking@tsixroads.com, or go to www.h2ow.com/catfish/. For more information about catching catfish, order John E. Phillips' book, "The Masters' Secrets of Catfishing," at www.nighthawkpublications.com/fishing/masterscatfish.htm. To learn more about fishing below the dam at Pickwick, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at info@tourhardincounty.org, call 731-925-8181 or 800-552-3866, or visit www.tourhardincounty.org. Pickwick Landing State Park offers fishing, boating, hiking, camping, swimming and golf. Lodging includes the lakeside inn with over 100 rooms, cabins that sleep eight and a campground that contains 48 sites with grill and electric/water hookup at each site. A restaurant at the park offers delicious southern cuisine. Call 731-689-3135 or 800-250-8615 to learn more.




Check back each day this week for more about HOW TO FISH SUMMERTIME CATFISH ...

Day 1 - Small Streams And Little Rivers
Day 2 - Large River Cats
Day 3 - Below Dams and in Main Lakes
Day 4 - Main Lakes and at Various Depths
Day 5 - What Cats Like

John's Journal