Channel Catfishing 101 For Beginners

Discussion in 'Catfishing Library' started by JERMSQUIRM, Feb 4, 2008.


    JERMSQUIRM New Member

    OK cabin fever has set in so I gotta talk fishing. Been working to much to squirrel hunt.

    For the new guys and beginners in channel catfishing I'll try and help answer some Questions before they are asked. I do a lot of channel catfishing and have some knowlage to share. I am not an expert per say but catch my fair share.

    To begin start with a decent set up. nothing against zebco 33's or 33 combos, I still have one and fished with them all my young life, but I would suggest something a bit better. When that fish of a lifetime comes you want pictures, not bad memories of broken line or stripped gears.

    If your budget wont allow $100 or more maybe go with an 808 or 733 hog zebco. Now I won't own a 733 because most don't have an adjustable drag. That's no good in my opinion. Or get a large spinning reel. Tiger rods and berkley big game rods are within a small budget, and now Wal-Mart has some large combos for bigger fish to fit most any budget.

    If your budget allows a bit more an ABU 5500 or 6000 is a very good all pourpose catfish reel and one of the top prefered on this site and an ugly stick makes a great companion to the rod.

    Once ya get a good rod and reel that fits, go with a good line. I have had great luck from both berkley big game and stren high impact line. I usually go with 15-20lb test. If you decide to use a braided line be warned; while some don't do it, others will literaly cut your rod tip like a hacksaw. So a ceramic tip might be a good investment.

    Hooks, as you might know, there are a bunch. A little advise, DON'T use treble hooks, unless you are planning on fishing for eaters. Treble hooks do a lot of damage to fish and can just flat out kill most that ya try and get em out of. And when its dark its even harder. Even with eaters most good nights you still have to cut off a couple cause there just to deeply embedded. I no longer use them at all for catfish. For catch and release fishing kahle and circles will be your best bet. They hook from there design 95% of the time in the corner of the mouth and fish suffer less damage. Circles dont require a hook set like the traditional hook. As fish takes line or bends rod down simply apply firm pressure and he will be hooked. J style hooks work but are also often swollowed. If you want to be a hook setter try tru turn, they are designed to twist and mouth hook if set quickly on the bite.

    You can use steel or nylon leaders, but i have great success without them.
    Swivels are a good idea. I do not use snap swivels because I've boated nice fish with the snap un hooked or almost straightened. I use just a heavy #5 swivel. Catfish like to roll and this helps eliminate line twist.

    Rigging your rod: A carolina rig is simply a slip sinker, one that will slide up and down line and is not tied, then a swivel tied below the sinker with a line leader line tied to other end of swivel and to the hook. 6-15". The longer the leader and more so with live bait, they can get tangled. Simple trial and error will get you fimiliar with a length to use in different areas.

    3 way swivels are good for weedy bottoms. The sinker can be tied on one end with a leader and a hook on other with leader. This will allow sinker to go down in weeds and bait to rest on them. And same way can be used in drifting from boat. I drift with the carolina rig too and have success.

    Sinkers: Different locations take different ones. For swift current try flat spoon or no-roll sinkers. They are flat and allow them to sit on bottom better and water do to roll them down current. And if they still float down take many sizes and go bigger. If you want to bounce baits slowly down current use egg sinkers. Ponds and lakes with no current most all shapes work fine. Some can have sharp burs. Placing a plastic bead from a craft store between the sinker and knot will reduce the risk of cutting knot and breaking line.

    There are many types of knots. One simple strong one I use is clinch knot. Slip line through hook/swivel and fold 2-3" back around and wrap end around line going back to reel 5-6 times. take end back through the loop you made above hook eye and and that also formed a loop behind the one you just went through, go back through that loop wet line with tounge and hold end and pull down to hook. Snug up trim end off and bait up. With practice it's easy. I can do it with my eyes closed.

    Baits: I could go on forever. What don't work on a good day?:smile2:

    KISS Keep It Simple Stupid. Good baits: Stink bait available at any bait shop. Blood, cheese, etc.... great baits are natural fish in the water they live in, minnows and cut shad, creek minnows/chubs and even bluegill work too. Chicken livers, try adding a spoon of garlic powder to them and stirr in. I,ve had good luck with them. Stink to high heaven.:wink: Seen them caught on hot dog chunks too.

    To get bait fish they can be purchased at bait shops but a shad or cast net is a wise investment for someone that goes frequently.

    You can use bobbers to try different depths. Catfish dont always stay at bottom. You will have to experiment with depth. Try bottom first. In ponds and lakes some feed them. Those areas top might be better.

    Channels like current. Look for edges of pools there water is swirling and any deeper channels thet lead to spillways etc... and rocky bottoms make good locations.

    Day/night? That is the Question? lol. Doesnt seem to matter. Channel catfish may be a tad more active after dark and most fish for them after dark. I've caught hundreds ipon hundreds during the afternoon hours in broad daylight too.

    Bank fishing: Rocky bridges with rip rap (busted up concrete extending into water) are good locations and rocky bottoms.

    From boat still fishing works fine. I like to drift. It covers more area and you dont have to tighten lines when the wind blows. Simply face the boat close to bank with wind in your face and cast into wind. It will take you across lake and keep lines tight. Rodholders are suggested. They can take your rod right out of your hands or boat before you can sit up. A landing net is suggested.

    After you have caught your fish, what to do? Well if eating it isn't your thing use a pair of needle nose pliers or hook remover and remove hook. Place the fish close to water. Throwing them off tall banks can kill them. They're pretty tough but after the stress of a fight placing them in water and letting them swim away from you is better.

    If your catch is lunch, to clean them, simply take a sharp knife. You might want to use a hammer to his head once to stun or kill it. They can cause injury to you if not:angry: Cut just through skin all the way around the back of gills under the bones that stick out from skull. Use pliers and pull off all skin towards tail. Cut around head through meat but try not to cut into entrails. Snap off head with twisting motion. Slice belly meat open back to vent (anus) and cut it out. Remove entrails and wash in fresh water. This works best on pan sized fish up to 1lb or 1 1/2lb if you have a big deep fryer. On bigger fillets are best. Follow same skinning procedures. After skin is off take a filet knife and stick the point into the back, right where the dorsal (like top fin of shark) and easily push it all the way through along the backbone through the bottom of fish just even with vent area. Lay fish on side that your removing up. With an easy sawing motion follow the spine all the way to tail untill the knife comes out. Stand fish up and fold the cut meat open. Then slice the meat from back of head to where its open and lollow down along ribs and filet will come right off. You can then cut off belly meat. Thats what catfish nuggets are in the store.

    Catfish can be baked, fried, smoked or whatever sounds good. There are a lot of good recipes here:

    I hope some of you will get some useful info from this blabbering and hope you catch your fish of a lifetime. I'm still searching for Mr. Tasty.