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Catching Channel Catfish Using Lures and Bait - How to catch channel catfish


Channel catfishing is different than catching bullheads, blue catfish, and others.  Channel cats swim faster, are much more aggressive, and like swift water.  Catching channel catfish is more active as they cover a wider range and hunt midstream, on the bottom, and even on the top of the water!  I have caught a bunch of channel catfish in the main stream of the river in mid summer as well as in backwater sloughs while casting spinner baitsand crank baits for black bass.  I have caught them on minnows when  I was crappie fishing and fishing with nightcrawlers just for them in really swift water that was flowing over a weir.  Catching channel catfish is not to be overlooked as a great freshwater gamefishing sport.  Channel cats also can fight like hell, especially a ten pounder!
When I am fishing for channel catfish in swift water like I mentioned above, I use a sliding sinker setup with about a 3 to 4 foot leader and enough weight to hold it in the tail of the swift water.  I try to get to the upstream or over the flow of the creek, ditch, or river that I am fishing so I don’t need too much weight to hold it.  I use a pretty good sized hook and a whole night crawler worm or a big chunk of bait.  I will use my striped bass fishing equipment with about 12 to 17 pound fishing line and the same sized leader as channel cats don’t seem so picky about this like steelhead, trout, or some fish.  When they hit, you know it and channel cats have hard mouths so when you set the hook, really put the wood to him!


I fish the same way for stripers, and fish for sturgeon pretty much the same way except for the equipment, down in the Sacramento delta using this sliding sinker setup and I have caught some lunkers there too.   The water is quite a bit slower and moves with the tide, but those channel cats are a hungry beast and hunting there on the bottom of the river every day and night.  Like most catfish, they like biting at night but unlike other catfish, they like to hunt the top water during the day.  I catch them on everything from worms, sardines, clams, and liver to ghost shrimp, grass shrimp and lures!

My brother and I used to fish in the main channel of the Sacramento river during the mid summer for large and smallmouth bass.  The river where we fish is 150 yards wide and flowing pretty good.  Along some of the banks where the river had eroded away, the cottonwood and other trees had fallen in the water and there were exposed root balls protruding out into the river providing great structure for fish.  We would use spinner baits, crank baits, and big jigs and rubber worms.  Almost every day out we would land a good channel catfish and untold numbers of squawfish, which are a boney pike-type fish that fisht like hell as well.

Often times, we would meander up the backwaters in the grasses and weeds and fish these shallow warm spots for bass as well, especially in the spring when we were sight fishing largemouth bass on their nests.  Amazing how many channel catfish we would catch doing this.  Actually, that is a great point about channel cats.  They are a great surprise and bonus to catch when you are fishing for other fish.  Their meat is firm and tasty and their fight is as good as any.  Got any good channel cat or other catfishing tips to share with us in our fishing forums????  Our site is 100% free and 110% about fishing and we would love to have you join us!


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