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Original post by Chuck Butkauskas(Chuckb1fish) on December 4, 2003

My experience with winter channelcat feeding behavior for what its worth.
As an avid ice fisherman and also catfisherman I have studied the winter feeding habits of channelcat in Illinois for over two decades. The key to catching cold water channelcat (notice that I am not including bluecat) is to first find the schooled up fish.Yes in my opinion, channel school like baitfish when the water gets below about 55 degrees.I have found that most of the time the cats will be suspended over deep water at a depth of 7-15 feet.I have found that cold water catfish most generally prefer a smaller bait, with most of my fish being caught on baits no bigger than a large shiner,and sometimes as small as a 1/64th ounce jig tipped with a wax or mealworm.If you are fishing in a body of water with runnoff coming into it and the weather breaks enough to start some flow, it will draw the channels like a magnet.This can be some fantastic fishing!!Cast a small to medium shiner or a nightcrawler up against the bank where the water is flowing in, and hang on!!( This also works great after a big rain at other times of the year ) When ice fishing or boat fishing start with your bait 6" off the bottom and move it up in 6" increments every few minutes until you find the depth the fish are holding.In the case of icefishing you may have to drill a new hole every 30 minutes until you find the fish. If you are lucky enough to have a fishfinder that will read through the ice it will save a lot of sweat.You do not need heavy gear or heavy line to catch cats in cold water as their body temperature drops so does their fighting ability. One thing to remember is as a fishes metabolic rate slows (the speed at which they burn energy=food) so does their appetite. In my opinion that is why they will prefer smaller baits. Now get out there and beat the wintertime blahs and CATCH SOME CATS!!

P.S. Fish taste twice as good from cold water.
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