Catfishing Eastern MT

Discussion in 'MONTANA RIVER TALK' started by ShrimpDaddy, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. ShrimpDaddy

    ShrimpDaddy New Member

    Messages:
    6
    State:
    Montana
    Hello all,
    Montanan representation looks to be a bit spotty in the Montana forums. Hopefully we can strike up some Montana Catfish conversations and exchange some thoughts like the rest of the nation.

    I am from Eastern MT, around the Forsyth area. I grew up most of my early life hear and have lived here again the last 11 years. I fished the Yellowstone during my youth for Cats, Sauger and Carp. We had a pretty basic approach. We would use crawlers for Cats and Carp, and red and white Red Devil lures for Sauger. In the early spring we had Bull Heads and Goldeyes hit the crawlers and could not keep the crawlers in the water long enough for the Cats to come around. Late spring through fall we would catch Cats on Crawlers and set out set lines with liver.

    Back up two steps... Channel Cats are the only real keeper Catfish we have in the Yellowstone or Montana for that matter and the record now looks to be about 29 pounds caught out of Nelson Reservoir. I would guess we should have a much larger version hiding in some of the other lakes and reservoirs, primarily Fort Peck and Tongue River Reservoir. I have also been told that the Milk River to the North actually has larger Channel Cats compared to the Yellowstone even though it is much narrower. I travel the Yellowstone by rail from Forsyth to Laurel and have seen what looks to be some excellent fishing locations. From Laurel to Worden the river almost looks like a large mountain stream with areas of shallow wide spots followed by narrow fast moving water with deep holes. The water is very clear compared to further down river. From Worden to the Bighorn river, the Yellowstone transitions to somewhat slower water though still possessing plenty of current. From the Bighorn to Miles City and down stream more confluences enter creating slower areas with deeper holes. In mid to late summer the Bighorn River is notorious for generating massive amounts of green moss which can severely limit bait presentation in the channel of the river. Jet boats are the norm for running the Yellowstone as it constantly presents a shallow set of rapids followed by a deeper calm stretch. Boat choices range from 14 foot flat bottom Aluminum john boats with 30 horse outboard jets to 21 foot Jet Craft type dual console boats with 350 cid or bigger engines.

    Fast forward 20 years......where does the time go.
    I started fishing the Yellowstone again in 2003 with a very basic approach using liver and had good results.
    In subsequent years I started using shrimp, cut up Goldeyes, and cut up Bull heads with a little commercial Catfish pellets thrown in for good measure. We seem to have numerous Cats in the 5-8 lb range with larger ones weighing in at 10-15 pounds. Seems that Cats over 15 pounds are not as easily caught but are around. Two years ago at the high point of my Catfish outings, I was on the river 2-3 time a week. It was interesting what they would bite on. Early-Late spring I had good results with liver. Then late spring to early summer it changed to shrimp. Mid summer Crawlers would catch the smaller Cats along with everything else from Drum to Sturgeon with a healthy dose of Goldeyes thrown in for good measure. Mid to late summer I had good results with cut up Goldeyes and 3-5 inch white fish chubs. Then late summer the Commercial catfish bait cubes worked well. I am sure this is not indicative of the norm, but just what I found be true that year.

    The last couple of years I have relied mostly on Goldeye cut bait and small Bull Head tails. The Goldeye stinks up well but the meat becomes mushy and is hard keep on the hook for any length of time. The Bull Head stinks up well and the skin allows you to keep hooked up well. Last spring I caught about 8 small Bull Heads and packed them in a large empty liver container. I let them stand for 1 week and then brought them out fishing with a buddy of mine in his boat. I handed the container to him and told him to rig one on... and that they should be good for fishing. He opened the container, started to gag and vomited over the side of the boat. I laughed so hard. I then took the container back to rig up my line figuring he had a weak stomach. I opened the container grabbed a Bull got a whiff and started retching. Needless to say he got a good laugh at me as well. Caught Cats though. Later in the year we had read about letting cow blood curdle and using it for bait. He did so with a 5 gallon bucket of blood from the local slaughter house/custom butcher. He opened it in the house after a month. Massive retching commenced again. Plus his wife was "really impressed"! It did not get used but in hind sight we should have chummed with it.

    Same buddy entered the 2nd Annual Yellowstone Challange put on by Montana Cats... http://www.montanacats.com/ last summer. I would like to get into that tournament this year with him. I need to do some research but it looks to cover Billings to the Bighorn on the Yellowstone River.

    My PB is a tick over 14 pounds two summers ago. I have been out to catch one over 20. It does not seem like a very large fish compared to the Flats and Blues elsewhere in the country. To add to that, I am after a 6 pound Small Mouth and a 10 pound Walleye all out of the "Jellystone". Used to be you never heard of catching Smallies in the Yellowstone now they are abundant. Guess if I want to catch something of any size and weight I am going to have to head down to Glendive and snag a Paddle Fish. But that's for another thread.
     
  2. MT River Rat

    MT River Rat New Member

    Messages:
    2
    State:
    Montana
    Fished the yellowstone with a buddy and we got into some hot and heavy action one night. We caught 18 cats in four hours with a 6lbs average the best fish weighted in at 10lbs. I wish all my fishing trips were that good. Good luck to you!
     

  3. dlongknife

    dlongknife New Member

    Messages:
    3
    State:
    Montana
    Hello Shrimp Daddy, read your blog and I have been having really good luck this spring here on the Milk River along the Fort Belknap Indian reservation. Caught several Channel Cats from 3 to 14 pounds, most on setlines tipped with minnows.. I was originally trying to catch walleyes, but since these catfish been hiting, I have no complaints. As a restocking efftort about 10 years ago, fish & Game restocked our Milk River with Channel Cats and they have some size on them now. I never before caught this many catfish in a season, but it has been interesting goin down to the river bank, and don't know whats on the end of the setlines. Pretty fun though!
     

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  4. dlongknife

    dlongknife New Member

    Messages:
    3
    State:
    Montana
    I just bought a catfish pole at kmart and after five or six casts the ceramic tip in the line guide fell apart, and started fraying my line. So I broke out the rest of the ceramic in the guide so it wouldn't fray it any more. I then retied on my line. I took off the line it came with and put on 40 pound catfish line to use for Paddle Fishing. I caught a 64 pound paddle fish with it, which made my day! I caught it at Slippery Ann Campground below Fred Robinson Bridge. They have been hammering the Paddlefish there these last few weeks! and seven were caught while I was there for only 5 hours, just at Slippery Ann itself. It is my second paddle fish I caught. Do you know where I can find another guide tip for my pole, most sports stores do not carry that big of guide tips (Cabelas & Scheels).
     

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  5. OHDA

    OHDA New Member

    Messages:
    4
    State:
    St.Albans , West Virginia
    I use to live in Livingston , Montana and I didnt know catfishing was in Montana
     
  6. fishjunkie

    fishjunkie New Member

    Messages:
    41
    State:
    montana
    hello montana cats anyone out there ?
     
  7. Flootie16

    Flootie16 New Member

    Messages:
    1,268
    State:
    Indiana
    wow it appears no one in montana catfishes......
     
  8. katman#1

    katman#1 New Member

    Messages:
    1,209
    State:
    South Carolina
    yall need some southern boys out there we will fiind them if there are any cats lol
     
  9. BigSkyCatMan

    BigSkyCatMan New Member

    Messages:
    20
    State:
    Montana/Wyoming


    I wasn't aware of any "restocking" efforts on the Milk River. Where did you get that information?
     
  10. Mo J-Em

    Mo J-Em New Member

    Messages:
    664
    State:
    Sullivan, Mo.
    Montana brothers, wheres all the catfish hiding. Surely there are a bunch out there. Keep at it. You will find em
     
  11. Mo J-Em

    Mo J-Em New Member

    Messages:
    664
    State:
    Sullivan, Mo.
    I know we are Catfish based here, but we talk about everything. Tell all your fishing buddies about this site. They are more than welcome here. You all can talk about your spoonbill and walleye. We do. Eventually you all will see the best catfishing website around with a bunch of great guys and gals. Bring em on. Look forward to seeing them here.
     
  12. .357

    .357 New Member

    Messages:
    11
    State:
    New Mexico
    i've fished the tongue river res. a lot not too much in size but man we were pulling small cats, almost every time i went out, all the time. it was good fishing! best of luck finding the big ones.
     
  13. BigSkyCatMan

    BigSkyCatMan New Member

    Messages:
    20
    State:
    Montana/Wyoming


    Or you're just looking in the wrong place :sneaky: haha. Trust me there are a LOT of catfisherman up here.