For the passionate fisherman, there is never a bad time to search the depths of local lakes and rivers for catfish.
But as the weather begins to turn in June, the catfish find their way near the banks for the spawning of the next generation, making it an ideal time for anglers to go in search of the whiskered fish.
“As a general rule for the next month or so, channel catfish will be near rocks — rock banks, chunk rocks, any type of rock is where channel cats will be,” Craig Collings said. “Blue cats are a totally different thing. While they’re spawning, they typically don’t feed, so they’re not going to be a fish to target. Channel cats will feed while they spawn, and so you’ll find them in shallow waters and rocky points.”
Collings is well known around the area for his expertise in fishing and for the number of tournaments he puts together each year. Collings already has put together two tournaments this year with another six to come, including his annual August tournament.
“The thing is, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work,” Collings said. “Fishing is what I call my sanity. I have a very stressful job, a very stressful life in that aspect of things and so when I’m out fishing, I think about nothing but fishing.”
Fishing tournaments aren’t for everyone, and the surge toward outdoor activities has people flocking to local waterways. Local angler Zach Puthoff has some advice for those who are learning the ways of catfish angling.
“If you’re fishing the big river and have any doubts about your equipment and whether it is big enough or not, it probably isn’t,” Puthoff said. “As for bait, any sort of cut or live bait is doing pretty decent right now in the shallow parts of the river.”
Collings said anglers have numerous options for the type of bait they can use.
“With all the rain we’ve been having, nightcrawlers work really well,” Collings said. “Chicken livers are always a good bait at the smaller lakes like Pony Express. Shad is probably the overall best for blue cats, but we also use skipjack herrings and the Asian carp jumping all over the river.” We actually catch those and cut those up because they’re good bait as well.”
Most believe that the best time for catfishing comes at night, but Collings says that he’s had just as much luck during the day. Collings said that he’s fished a lot of tournaments and catches just as many during the day as at night. Like any fisherman will tell you, it’s all about finding the fish.
Catfish season runs year-round, but like most fish there are limits. Blue catfish and flatheads have a daily limit of five and a possession limit of 10. Anglers in search of channel catfish are afforded a higher limit of 10 per day and a possession limit of 20.