Winter and Low Water Levels...The Silver Lining.

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by Catcaller, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    My wife and I went out riding around in the country today after she got off work...KID FREE I might add :wink:...picked up a 12 pack of beer at the package store...made our way through the country "looking for deer"...and ended up at the Neosho River low water dam at Chetopa, Ks.

    This...as I'm sure many of you already know....is where I spend a great deal of my time fishing for the first 6-7 months of the year. (My wife would wholeheartedly tell you that we're only an air conditioner and heater equipped camper away from my change of address...and our divorce...Lol)

    We happened to have her digital camera with us...and I decided to snap a few photos of the Neosho in her low water stage to post in my journal to help me later remind myself of the structure of the rocky riverbed when it's covered with water...and how it could potentially relate to improved success next season. (Which is rapidly approaching)

    The following few posts will have pictures of the Neosho in its present low water condition...as well as a few of more that will outline the near record flood we had here this last 4 th of July holiday....and hopefully put into perspective for me (and for you) how the structure of the riverbed can, and does affect the outcome of why and how the current flows where....dictating where fish will hold to rest...and perhaps even more importantly...to feed.

    These first 3 photos were taken from down inside the riverbed...everything you see is normally covered by water even during normal conditions...except of course the bridge...Lol.
     

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  2. caneycat

    caneycat New Member

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    196
    State:
    Texas
    Nice pics! There should some cats in that spot!
     

  3. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    SoutheastKansas
    That first pic is one of my more productive flathead spots...probably not THE best...but a honeyhole nonetheless. (And no I DON'T mean the model...lol)

    My wife is standing in the exact spot where when its covered with water...a carolina rigged black perch right there will typically yield at least one 20-30 lb + flattie.

    The second and third pics give you an idea of the layout of the entire riverbed within the city riverpark at Chetopa.

    A seemingly endless series of gravel and sand bars...with holes inbetween each one.

    Some more subtle than others...but sometimes that's all it takes.
     

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  4. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    These riffles are chock full of chunk rock...some merely riprap...others truck sized boulders...some house sized rockpiles...and then theres the football field sized limestone shelves...the riverbed itself...covered with slimy green moss thats slick as ice when you try to wade on it. (Felt soled wading boots all the way baby...them trout fishermen aren't dummies)

    There are also a few natural wingdam type barriers...formed when the endless supply of upstream river rocks deposit against rock formations...complete with scour holes on the downstream sides of them.
     

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  5. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    One doesn''t need much imagination to realize that the catfish hide amongst these rocks and river rock bars scattered about the riffles to catch prey when they are covered by 3-4 feet of water.
     

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  6. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    More of the same...yet different rock piles out in the river channel.

    When the water is up...we'll anchor above these rockpiles (and/or get out and wade if the water is right) to walk our lightly weighted baits through them...using the current flow to our advantage when seeking out the blue or channel cats hiding within...or on the downstream side of these piles.
     

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  7. SUNDROP

    SUNDROP New Member

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    395
    State:
    Washington
    Looks like you need to spend a day stacking rocks into little caves!!!! LOL!!
     
  8. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    SoutheastKansas
    These brushpiles are still in their early stages of accumulation, after last summers flushing out... when the floods washed away the old ones.

    They will get MUCH bigger than this by spring...when the relentless currents bring about more floating debris.

    These log jams/brushpiles are PRIME flathead territory. I caught my PB rod and reel flathead of 47 lb from where the bigger of the two piles sit.

    We usually tie up to the backsides of them...enjoying the current break during even the most trying of times....and fishing vertical off the side of the boat.
     

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  9. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    It's easy to see the obvious spots during low water a guy should be fishing...but not so obvious when the water covers everything up.

    A little homework/legwork during low water periods will do ya wonders when it comes to locating fish next season.

    It's also a good time to don waders and attempt to reclaim a five gallon bucket full of sinkers left over from catfishing all year...as well as from the previous springs spoonbill snagging season.

    Most of the stuff around the edges gets pretty well picked over...but out in the shallow water...there's still a wealth of next years stock of expensive snagging sinkers.

    Or...melt them down and create whatever size you more regularly and typically use by pouring your own sinkers in molds.
     

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  10. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    Take a look at the first pic of the dam and how it was today...during LOW water conditions...and the stark difference of how it was last summer 2007 during a near record flood.

    Water levels came to within a couple feet of going into town...which has never happened...and also barely fell short of the 1959 record flood.
     

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  11. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    These are pics of a few miles upstream of Chetopa during the 2007 floods.

    The highway bridge was completely underwater for a few days...these were taken after it had receded enough to cross the bridge.

    Keep in mind that the railroad trestle normally has a nearly 30' span over the top of the water level during normal conditions.

    The other pic is one of MANY levees along the river that were breached by the flood.
     

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  12. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    The first pic illustrates how far the Neosho got out of its banks during summer 2007. That FAR treeline...over a mile and a half away...is the normal river channel.

    The second pic is of as close as you could get to the hiway bridge going over Chetopa, Ks...FOUR miles east.

    The third is of the hiway bridge just east of Oswego, Ks. During normal conditions...the water would only be visible looking down off the side of the bridge...20-30' below.
     

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  13. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

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    1,511
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    Don't think that hasn't been done...Lol. :wink:

    You could spend a lifetime out there stacking up catfish condos...and then re-stacking them every single year after the spring highwater tears them down for you.
     
  14. s_man

    s_man New Member

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    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Lots of good pics Brian. Keep it up, Just remember to keep some stuff for yourself lol. Until we get everyone to become BOC members, we'll have guys out there just looking to take advantage of the info we can give them. Those are the guys that aren't members, have been logging on here for years, and do not ever intend to sign up. I say let them get their info from their baitshop lol. Not from guys that are out there actively hunting big fish.
     
  15. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    Skip...don't miss the forest for the trees buddy.

    True enough...I'm baring the bones of my #1 honeyhole....which is all the way over here in rural Kansas. (There's not many willing to make the long trip for a little known spot like this)

    Anybody who lives around here and totes a fishing pole...has at the very least heard about Chetopa.

    I'm confident enough about my spot to know that it don't matter who's there on a given day...I'm gonna be in the running for stringer of the day as long as there are enough fish present to be caught. I simply have the fish there patterened...although changes do occur that need to be duly noted on a yearly basis...which I try to do to the best of my abilities.

    This is something everybody who has the opportunity to do so...should do.

    It's just one more piece of the puzzle Skip...and there's no sense in holding back information when it comes to figuring out what makes the kitty tick.

    I mean...we're all in this together right?? (Especially so here on this site)

    My approach may not be the right one for everybody. Some like to keep their honeyholes "top secret". Nothin' wrong with that. I'm known to always keep an ace or two up my sleeve so to speak as well.

    But in my way of thinking...it's not so much the spot...as it is the fisherman.

    Put a good fisherman in a bad spot...and he'll adapt his technique until he finds something that works.

    While on the other hand...you can put a bad fisherman in a good spot...and it certainly does not mean he's destined to make bank at all.

    I'm no Bill Dance or Roland Martin...who can go ANYWHERE and make it work for them.

    But when it comes to my home water...the one where I "waste" countless hours in the off season...studying what worked last year, along with when and why it worked. Along with the contours of the bottom of the river...as I try to determine likely new current paths due to changes in the riverbottom over the past year...couple that with aquiring the hard to get/harder to prep...but yet absolute prime bait for the local river cats...and you can bet that there's been much more than one time that the lucky few in my circle were the only ones catching good fish on a particular day at Chetopa.

    Nothing gets people talkin' like it does when nobody else is catchin' much of nothin'....there's probably 20 or 30 other anglers on the river...and here my regular fishing partners and I are...catching and RELEASING sometimes multiple 20, 30, and up to 40 lb blue cats and flathead.

    To be quite honest...it pi$$es some people off around here when you turn fish like that loose.

    You can...if the wind is right...hear what they're saying from the boatramp at times. Stuff like..."Who do they think they are?"..."Flippin' Idiots"..."Stupid a$$es."

    That's what I love about this place that I call home tho...this is still the final frontier...where the fishin' is still good...and the NEED to release most of the big cats you catch is not one that has been realized yet as a popular and common concept. (I mean everybody has heard about catch/release bass...but catfish??? Come on!!)

    This to me means that our fishery is still good enough to sustain itself even without catch and release being the norm.

    Come on down anytime you want...the fishin' is good in the spring...and I'll be out on the river anyhow during prime time.

    Most times alone...I could use the company....IF you can stand the heat. :wink:
     
  16. caneycat

    caneycat New Member

    Messages:
    196
    State:
    Texas
    Nice pics and some awsome looking spots!
     
  17. Katmandeux

    Katmandeux New Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    State:
    Checotah, Oklahoma
    I see a road trip in my future this winter.
     
  18. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    Dave...you're more than welcome to come up here ANYTIME...but if I were you...I'd wait until the spring.

    Let me know when...and I'll meet you down there.

    There's a pretty good reason I took the time and made the effort to take pics of a nearly dried up river...there's NO fish to catch in the winter...or I'd be posting pics of my stringer instead...Lol.

    After the spring rains pump the water levels back up...and as soon as the gizzard shad show up...it's on.

    Actually...the walleye begin showing up in feburary...well before the shad do.

    But for the main attractions...the spoonbill...whitebass/wiper...flatheads...channel...and blues...you're looking at an early start in mid april...and it's normally just beginning to getinto full swing by early to mid may. The peak being in early june....and then waning steadily. By early July...it's all but finished...except for mainly just a few small stragglers.

    But Dave...I'm not exaggerating here...the fishing is so good then that I tend to take it for granted.

    I'll take a buddy from work who's never waded in the river...doesn't know the methods and tactics that a guy like myself with 30 years experience...all on the same stretch of river...brings to the table on a day when the run is kickin'...and my A game is working for me. I always love it when "A" works...but trust me...I've got B, C, D, and E game along just in case...and if really pressed I can count higher than that. :smile2: Just kidding...I know you don't count the alphabet... don't have much of a problem saying it forwards...but it sure is hard to recite it backwards on demand. (But that's a WHOLE other story...Lol)

    But to someone who has never experienced the spawning runs at Chetopa or waded like that...it's quite an ordeal.

    I'll be apologizing to him that they're not biting real good that day...and we'll have caught perhaps 12 between us...with the smallest being around 3 lb...several 5-10 lb...the largest 20 lb.

    They look at me like I'm crazy...thats the best fishing they've EVER had.

    But it gets much better than that on a good day.

    Many times...when I'm still in the process of building up a few fillets in the freezer...I'll have a stringer of my alloted 10 fish...and I can't carry it one handed and still make it up the steep rip rap river bank... it'll weigh 100 lb or better. Not one eater fish being over 10-12 lb apiece. (Unless it's mortally wounded) And on a typical good day such as that one...I've caught and released at least 1-5 ...20 lb or better blues.

    All on an up close and personal basis. Ain't nothin' quite as thrilling as catching 30 pounders in waist deep water...while standing on moss covered limestone...and the spring currents ripping through the chute you're in as it builds up velocity for the riffle just downstream...maintaining an ever present "push" against your back (We always fish downstream)...the constant slipping...sliding...and endless seeking out of a new and better foothold. (Felt sole boots work...fly fishermen have used them for decades...they may fish for bait...but they're not dummies)

    Then you step in a hole...and theres a large fish in it...Lol. I've seen more than one guy lose it when a good sized blue ripped their leg as a parting shot. with a quick headshake and flexing of its pectoral fins.

    Ya...you laugh...it's all funny...until it happens to YOU!!

    This isn't fishing...it's COMBAT!!

    You wouldn't think a catfish would be that aggressive...but you'll soon change your mind if you try to stick your hand or finger in a bluecats mouth when trying to unhook it...and allow it to latch on to ya. I swear...some of those 20-30 pounders are MUCH meaner than the bigger ones that we caught in the past. They seem to WANT to draw blood...and they are more than able to do so if you screw up and allow it to happen. (Voice of experience there...it's simply AMAZING how hard a blue can bite when it really wants to...I couldn't imagine a turtle biting much harder...seriously...although that's one thing I've managed to avoid...a turtle bite. I consider all turtles to have a 10" minimum "No Finger Zone" around that long neck...and especially the beak.) :eek:oooh:

    Speaking of good days tho...one day last May...my regular fishing buddy and I caught and released over 75 blues in 16 hours. (Both our freezers were already stocked up by then)

    The water was really up big time...nearly bank full...and the shad were taking refuge in an eddy downstream of a large log jam...trying to escape the vicious current.

    The blue cats were in there all day and all night long gorging on shad in that eddy.

    We tied onto a willow tree, and drifted spoonbill eggs cut up into chunks...as soon as the bait entered the eddy...it lost momentum with the current...and fell straight to the bottom....sat there probably 10 seconds...up to a minute or two...and then...BAMM!!!! I can't imagine how many blues were in there that day.

    But ya just gotta have good equipment thats properly rigged for this place...a 30-40 lb blue or flathead in 3-5' deep water...with the current to their advantage...what you have there is a formidable adversary. But that's what makes it fun tho. :wink:

    I always bring along an extra rod/reel combo just in case the junk some of the guys from work brings along breaks. It's happened several times. They always insist on using their own low grade cheesy bass equipment...Lol. A 30 lb bluecat will shred a cheap reel in one long sustained fast run...if it doesn't break the line or the rod first.

    It's quite comical that as they wade back to the shore to get my extra rod that I TRIED to get them to use in the first place...carrying their broken one like someone just had shot their dog...all dejected and bummed out (more over losing the fish than the rod)...I'll holler..."Hey!! Since you're already there...grab me a beer out of the cooler....naw...Make it 2!!"

    That's usually followed by some form of a hand signal...along with a choice comment that would make their momma proud...Lmao! :smile2:
     
  19. Katmandeux

    Katmandeux New Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    State:
    Checotah, Oklahoma
    You don't mean......a rude social gesture???!!? OMG. The shame!:smile2:
     
  20. Catcaller

    Catcaller New Member

    Messages:
    1,511
    State:
    SoutheastKansas
    I just smile and take note of the fact that they actually DO bring me those two beers!! Lol