Higher fish densities mean better catches for savvy cat fans that know where their quarry is likely to be holed up. Crayfish and night crawlers are plentiful in early spring, so both are top enticements. The third and fourth casts produce two more catfish — a 6-pounder and a 7-pounder. In some waters where flatheads have been introduced, bullhead populations have plummeted. Sunfish make great baits, remaining lively on the hook and attractive when cut. Now is when the big ones are biting! They also gather in the outside turns of channel bends, near junctions of two or more channels and on deep channel edges in or near dam tailwaters. Catfish use old creek channels as traveling lanes, and will pile up in them each spring as they transition to their spawning areas. Focus your attention on still or slow-moving water, or fish near structural features such as big rocks, holes and bottom channels that break the current and attract concentrations of fish.
In fact, March is one of the top months for catfishing if a lunker channel cat is what you want. Shad and herring are excellent because they disperse aromatic oils catfish find irresistible. There's a reason why the most successful catfishermen are able to stay out all night -- no one wants to be near them! Keep fish baits fresh by storing them in coolers filled with cold water or ice. Frogs are locally popular and usually productive baits. Dips, doughs, chunks, and other prepared baits offer convenience, reduce waste, and increase your catches. These fish may be used as live bait where legal — always check local regulations or in chunks. To make one, tie your main line to one eye of a three-way swivel and drop-lines of 12 and 24 inches on the other two eyes. Toughest and liveliest of all is the green sunfish, a prime flathead bait on line or rod and reel. Inundated lakes and ponds in big reservoirs offer catfish deep sanctuary, and if scattered trees or stumps still exist around the perimeter, the potential for fast-paced action is great. As you move, pull the baited rig on or just above the bottom. Baitfish congregate in these warm environs like bathers on a Caribbean beach, and catfish move in to gluttonize the schools. Try stink bait on bank lines straight out into the deepest portion of the tailrace, or set up on a ledge with cut bait at dusk for big flatheads. There are many, but few more effective than a basic three-way rig, which is adaptable to a wide variety of fishing situations in swift or still water. Granted, summer is a blue-ribbon season for catching big cats and lots of them. When a bite is on, fishing a hump in early spring can produce catfishing action far better than anything you ever imagined. They provide quick travel routes between deep and shallow-water haunts. Prepared baits also work as chum again, where legal. Then decide if you want to use a passive or active approach. That said, certain baits consistently produce more catfish throughout the year. Of course, preparing the more smelly baits for catfish should be done outdoors, not in the kitchen, garage or basement. Wire minnow traps baited with a piece of dead fish are excellent craw catchers on any water with a decent crayfish population. In rivers the heaviest catfish avoid the strongest currents in order to conserve energy. Savvy catters take advantage of this unique situation. The resulting increase in current concentrates catfish in areas where they can escape the excessively heavy flow. Such an abundant food source rarely goes unnoticed, and catfish often cruise shallow flats where leopard frogs make brief forays into the water during the first few hours of darkness. Catfish love chicken — such as the neck, gizzard, liver and kidneys.
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