Assaulting Aquatic Weeds and Weed Beds for Channel Cats

Discussion in 'Channel Catfish' started by Catcaller, Dec 6, 2007.

Are the weeds where you fish relevant to your success while channel catfishing?

  1. Yes definately

  2. Sometimes

  3. Hardly ever

  4. Not at All

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  1. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    The strip pits we have here in Se Kansas are loaded with channel cats.

    The state record channel of 36 1/2 lb came from a local strip pit within the Mined Land Wildlife Area...and 10-25 lb specimines aren't rare at all.

    These pits are also ALL loaded with more than ample amounts of various aquatic vegetation. (As well as lots of wood and rocky cover)

    Most of these pits have a sharp drop off about 2 or 3 ft off the shore. It can and does go from being 3 foot deep or so...all the way down to 30' in just one step...sometimes much more.

    These shorelines are the hot ticket for nighttime channel cats...even though this shallow buffer area is typically literally choked with several varieties of weeds at differing depths. Some from the bottom up...others the surface only...others stick up out of the water.

    The weeds themselves are a literal jungle...so MANY potential places to fish...so little time. But there is order to all this chaos.

    I concentrate on wood and rock cover surrounded by weeds. A gap in the weeds...natural...or made by you...in a likely spot such as a brushpile, fallen tree, submerged log or rockpile, a willow tree...are all a good bet for some action.

    Points are another productive option...the edges of the weedbeds along rocky points are a dynamite selection.

    I've found that the channel travel not only the outside edges of the endless weedbeds...but within them as well.

    They have little "deer trails" (If you will) all throughout these weed beds...that they go here and there...back and forth in their nightly quest for prey.

    A 1/2 or 3/4 oz weedless jig head like what the ba$$ fishermen use...with the skirt trimmed back...and a small live perch or a soft shelled crawfish tipped on it is a great selection to pierce the sometimes thick surface weed mats that occur here.

    Just drop it vertically through the weeds around a brushpile at nighttime while anchored...place the rod in its holder...and be patient. Once everything settles down...and its all quiet again...they'll resume feeding. But be ready...as soon as they hit...it seems like they head right back for the nearby heavy duty snags that they came from. You need to prevent that if possible.

    Another favorite of mine is a red lighted bobber with a small live perch hooked below the dorsal. This can be some truly exciting and very productive fishing when done in the proper manner.

    I like to be right up against the edge of the weedline....almost to point of being anal about it. Well...ok...no almost to it.

    There's a 12" sweet spot right next to that edge....and thats where the bite almost ALWAYS occurs...the closer the better...as long as you're NOT touching it!! :crazy:

    Carolina rigs with a slip bobber are another typical selection...and 3 way rigs also have a place at the table. (especially around extremely weedy bottoms...where you need to adjust the depth of your presentation)

    The weedlines along the extended points are dynamite as well. Some of my biggest channel have come off of weedy points.

    An underwater hump or a submerged roadbed with weeds, brush, and/or rocks is a good place to throw out a marker buoy and note it on your map and in your journal...or for the lucky ones...mark a waypoint on the trusty handheld GPS. :wink:

    Just rig up accordingly...high tensile line and a reliable rod/reel combo is a must. (A clicker comes in handy if you don't want to get your rod jerked in while you're gaping off at your other line that has a bite)

    I prefer braid because it cuts right through the weeds...it as well has zero stretch. (an important part of the mix when fishing the nasty stuff...and you HAVE to turn that fish before he gets into it)

    A headlite is an absolute must as well. I prefer one that has a white or green lite along with a black light as well. $12 at Bass Pro Shops or Cabelas...money well spent.

    A good jumbo catfish or musky net is standard gear in my boat...nothin worse than to find yourself wishing for MORE net.

    And as a sign of optimism and good Karma...a digital 50 lb scale...and a cooler filled with ice cold beverages of your choice. (Beef Jerky, chili cheese pringles, and a couple snickers bars also...but that kinda goes without saying right?)

    As always...patience...persistence...and the ability to enforce a quiet zone on the bottom of the boat to avoid spooking the fish you're trying to catch....sometimes literally floating right above them in the shallow water leading up to a drop off.

    I have a rubber mat in the bottom of my boat to at least make an effort to muffle the inevitable bumps and bangs. :angry:

    Any other weed fishermen out there? If so...sound off. I'd like to know what works for you.

    Check the weeds out in the link below...I'd bet we have a HOST of those listed besides the ones I can identify...or just haven't seen yet.

    http://aquaplant.tamu.edu/database/index/visual_id_index.htm
     
  2. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    lots of good information, and way to spice it up with the beverages and jerkey!!! makes me dream about them warm summer nights again!! :roll_eyes: the only thing i can say about all of this is.... careful when asking for weed fishermen...you may get more than you bargained for!!! :eek:oooh: rollo
     

  3. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    Lmao...I wouldn't expect anything more from a guy who mows his driveway in December with his jet boat!! :smile2::tounge_out:

    Everybody knows that the grass doesnt grow in the driveway until spring! :cool2:
     
  4. CatAngler

    CatAngler New Member

    Messages:
    312
    State:
    Omaha NE
  5. Ketch

    Ketch New Member

    Messages:
    469
    State:
    Minnesota
    I would say that the majority of my channel cat fishing is related more to brush and timber as a source of underwater cover rather than targeting weeds. My success catfishing seems to relate more to current breaks (logs, pilings, sharp depth changes, anything that causes small spots of slack water) in rivers.

    That coupled with the fact that most of the rivers where I am fishing, lacks substantial weed growths. Where I spend most of my time now, the areas I target in the Minnesota River, I target mainly the edge of the current within the river, rather than the eddy's and sloughs which seem to attract the weed beds.

    There is a smaller river in central minnesota, the sauk river, which I target channels on that is incredible when fishing around the edges of the weeds. It is a 15 or 17 lake chain that has unbelievable channels in it. Here, since it is a moderate moving river, I tend to target edges of weed beds more often.

    Oh yeah, thanks for your reminders of what summer fishing is like (cooler full of beer sitting in the boat eating jerky). Now that is gonna plague my mind while I am out blowing snow at 4 am tomorrow morning. It only took me an hour 45 minutes to blow it all out yesterday. :angry:

    That white christmas is looking to be a sure bet.
     
  6. catfishcalhoun

    catfishcalhoun New Member

    Messages:
    6
    State:
    indiana
    good article about weeds. the lakes that i fish the most are old coal strip pitts in south east indiana one of the most productive places is a weed bed in about five feet of water with a twenty foot hole next to it . over the last fifteen years i have pulled alot of nice fish out of this area. this last summer i pulled two nice channels out of this spot within ten minutes of each other , one was thirtey inches the other was thirtytwo , and i had already had five nice ones on the stringer. all of these were caught floating nightcrawlers right at the top of the weeds. i have been doing this for years . every time i pull the boat out and there are some locals around they cant beleive that i caught them , they say that they never catch that many or size
     
  7. Bacardipr05

    Bacardipr05 New Member

    Messages:
    1,424
    State:
    Pennsylvan
    Lots of good information in your post. Here I was avoiding weeds altogether.
     
  8. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    Targeting weeds is second nature in the strip pits I fish. There's really no choice but to adapt your technique to overcome an ever present factor in any one of them. Some more so than others.

    But when you get down to it...yes...it's annoying to constantly have to peel moss and weeds off your hook.

    But the bottom line is that fish DO in fact use them...and utilizing them in some functional capacity is just one more avenue you have at your disposal to catch more fish.

    Especially when you have no other choice.

    But as far as my Neosho river...there is no substantial weed growth in it in our stretch. As you know...it's a shallower and faster river when compared to others in the area...such as Spring river.

    Not near as much slack water in the Neosho as there sometimes is in Spring...which incidently does actually have quite alot of weed cover in the backwater sloughs, oxbows, creeks...even along the shorelines of the main channel.

    There's good catfishing on the Spring...but it's not great like it is in the Neosho. (Although the smallmouth in the spring are a blast to catch on ultralites)

    Sorry to hear that about all the snow...Lol...no really I am. :roll_eyes:

    You can keep it!!

    We get more ice than anything around here. It didn't use to be like that. Back in the 70's there were some heavy duty white outs that I remember as a kid. (Sleddin'...man wasn't that a blast!! Although its kinda hard to find hills in Kansas...so we'd tie onto the back of a 3 wheeler or a truck...lol)

    Good luck with all that...but if it makes ya feel any better...I'll be working OT most days up until Christmas....and probably beyond. :sad2:

    Gotta finance next fishin' season...might as well be during winter. :cool2:
     
  9. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    i know this thread is more associated for channels in pits, etc. i don't fish many pits for cats, but to add, grass is a favorite for me to fish especially in the spring in high water conditions on the river. Flooded grass at that. May be on the backside of an island, or along an eddy side away from the current. I catch alot of good flats and channels targeting these areas, and i know why they are there. for the same reason Brian is explaining earlier in the thread.. not only are they targeting the insects and worms that are being brought out by the high levels, but the submerged grass is drawing other baitfish to its hidden domain as well...great thread catcaller...its really interesting how you can take different scenarios and relate them to your own stategies on different waters...goodluck..rollo
     
  10. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    I too avoided weeds when I was a beginner many years ago.

    I viewed them as more of a nuisance...and would go out of my way to keep from getting tangled up.

    What did it for me was when at 10 or 12 yrs old in our large farmpond...I figured out that the big bass liked the weeds to seek shade...and lie in wait...an ambush waiting to happen.

    I was an avid bass fisherman as a kid...although I did catfish as well...but back then it was hardly considered a sport.

    As I got older...I adapted to a whole other league of weeds...the huge mega weedy strip pits.


    Around my early 20's...I came back to catfishing with a whole new perspective...catfish became game fish to me long before they were actually considered anything but a rough fish.

    And...for the most part...the pits I fished...I had always fished for bass.

    So here I am...I have a new quarry. Familiar water...but yet different technique.

    What's the first logical step to take?

    There's weeds EVERYWHERE...I'll try to adapt my past proficiency at weed fishing for bass...and attempt to apply it to channel cats.

    Go with what you know when faced with someplace not familiar...and then try to build off of that foundation.

    The fish aren't biting very good...ok...maybe its time to abandon the weedless rocks...and try the structure hidden within the weed line or the weed bed...or a submerged hump with weeds on it... if you've never done it.

    Given enough of a prescence...aquatic weeds are in some cases that coveted "structure within structure" that we all talk of seeking to find.

    Sometimes the assumptions that we make about whether this or that is fishy looking spot to us are ill founded...and is an opportunity missed.

    I constantly try new things...they don't always work. But...sometimes they do.

    If you're going to rely on blind luck to catch fish...you'll probably still catch a great deal of catfish during your run on this planet.

    But EVERY single one of the great local catfish hunters I have known in this area were open to try anything... more than once if it didnt pan out the first time.

    Patient old men...who armed with their vast amounts of all things wise about fishing...were VERY successful because they constantly adapt to changes in their surroundings.


    I've been forced to adapt many times over in the river after yearly floods change the landscape of the riverbed.

    As well as when new species began showing up in the Neosho river...such as wiper and bluecats.

    Change keeps things interesting. It's a great feeling when you wonder if the fish are in a certain area...try an experimental approach...and it actually works.
     
  11. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    Weeds are weeds...don't matter if its a lake, river, creek, pond...they all hold fish at one time or another.

    More so in some areas vs. other places. The biggest difference being the approach if its current or if its still water. then factor in are they isolated weed patches...or is it a massive weed bed?

    They're all different animals...and they are unique in their characteristics. What works in one place...doesnt necessarily mean it flies in another...with different weed populations and structre.

    Temporary flooding of land dwelling weeds has been a successful endeavor for me in the past.

    The river will be rolling...we're talking out of its banks apocalypse type flood.

    We'll put in my buddys flatbottom...and cross the bank line...and actually fish out in the edges of a farmers fields.

    If you get there in time...the earthworms are coming out of their holes...the grass hoppers, frogs, baitfish feeding on the insects, and soft shell crayfish are all in the mix....and are a right proper buffet for a hungry fat channel or mississippi white.

    We've not caught any really large blues or channel like this...but lots and lots of 3-12 pounders though. Perfect eatin' size.

    Although flathead are a whole other thing...we've caught some really nice flatties by fishing flooded pecan groves right next to the river...LOTS of long red sod worms reside there.
     
  12. Bacardipr05

    Bacardipr05 New Member

    Messages:
    1,424
    State:
    Pennsylvan
    Thank you for the valuable information something to try next year cat caller.
     
  13. Scott Daw

    Scott Daw New Member

    Messages:
    2,002
    State:
    Allentown, Pennsylvania
    weed beds play an inportant roll where I fish cause I spend alot of time fighting them when fishing from shore (sad I fight the weeds more then the fish).
     
  14. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Very good thread caller. When bank fishing all the strip ponds around here, (some are a 2 mile walk through the woods) they never get fished for cats. All the guys go after bass in these out of the way ponds. But every one I have fished has channel cats in it. I don't know how they got there but they are untouched if you will. I like to put live baits on the outside edge and the inside edge of the weed line. You can put a 3 or 4 inch gill in 1ft of water along the bank ( and if you are guiet ) you can catch the biggest channels in the pond. Quiet is key bank fishing shallow water. Then no lights or fires near the water. Tossing live baits to the outside edge is good too, big fish patroll that edge, pokeing around for any dumb gills or crappies, straying to far from the cover.
     
  15. poisonpits

    poisonpits Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    9,755
    State:
    arkansas
    Name:
    johnnie
    this would be a good post to put in the pros corner for future referance.
     
  16. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    These threads are everywhere johnnie, the new guy just has to read thru all of them. I know it may take all winter. But It is worth it lol.
     
  17. catfishrollo

    catfishrollo New Member

    Messages:
    6,894
    State:
    Ohio
    there are some great strip pits not far from home! lol...i know of one that holds monster flats in it!! how i know, i threw them in personally years back, and they were 25 plus then..lol.. however, i do know of two other pits that hold channels over 15 pounds possibly exceeding 20 or more pounds!! you just have to try them. as skip said, most go and target the bass, crappie, etc. these beasts are present as well....rollo
     
  18. WIcatter

    WIcatter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,120
    State:
    Plainfield, Wis
    Name:
    Mark
    I don't have strip pits to fish but I do river fish extensively. Main rivers like the Wisconsin, Fox, and Rock. These rivers also contain backwaters, sloughs, and bays which contain weeds. I always fish from shore and my favorite weeds are pesky lily pads. In the summer I target holes in lily pads as well as the outer edges to the main water body in up to 3' of water or less. Using braided line helps to prevent lots of snagging as it cuts through the stems pretty well.
     
  19. Catgirl

    Catgirl New Member

    Messages:
    13,546
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