Catfish make for an interesting target when fishing rivers and streams. These whiskered fish tend to migrate into deep holes during the fall and winter months. They can be found moving upstream or back downstream to their holding lies for the summer months. Catfish not only have good eyesight, but they have an incredible sense of smell they use to find and attack their prey. This keen smelling ability is one of the many challenges of finding and catching catfish in rivers.
Time of day can prove important for trying to chase big channel catfish in rivers. Since they prefer low light, even nighttime bites, you either have to be the early bird or night owl. That isn’t the only way to catch them, however, as some catfish in rivers can also be aggressive during the day, smacking topwater plugs!
Once we figure out where to look for these guys, we can lock into a few kinds of similar habitats or catfish neighborhoods. The first place to look is any kind of confluence of two streams, especially nice fudgy ones with lots of food. Looking for catfish in rivers where you can find a mud line can definitely also help you out. These areas usually form deep, mysterious holes with funky currents, a perfect spot for a catfish to hang out and sniff its next meal.
Our second favorite spot to find big catfish in rivers is in the deep scoured out heads of pools, and holes in rivers. Think beneath and below dams, or natural sets of rapids where the water currents can form lots of depressions and spots for catfish to rest to yes, sniff out their next meal.
The last spot we focus on are those deep inky undercut banks, brushpiles your momma told you to steer clear of, or any area where bridge abutments, boulders, or anything massive disrupts the water’s current. We know what happens next, a nice resting spot is formed for our catfish to lovingly wait for its next meal.
Now that you know where to look in the river, let’s discuss some fragrant options that catfish find irresistible.. Dipbaits are sophisticated, goopy, oily, sticky and smelly compounds designed to attract catfish. You deliver the goods in a tube full of the goop, or a shaggy dip worm lathered in the schmear. Both the tubes and worms are designed for river use, and can be rigged with a variety of J hooks or circle hooks for catch and release, or old fashioned trebles for the release to the grease. Dipbaits are applied to the tube or worm with a stick or something like the wooden stick you use to mix up a can of paint. You can try the Mudville Catmaster River Dip Worm and the Team Catfish Sticky Dipbait Tube:
The old school, classic way to find catfish is cut bait. Hunks of cut up baitfish are rigged on a weighted hook strategically placed or drifted in the river. Cut bait has the smells and funk to attract catfish, and it still works today. these preserved shad are impregnated with anise scent, if you’re not in the mood for a little cut bait like the Magic Products Preserved Shad along with the Mudville Catmaster No Roll Sinker.
Mudville’s Catmaster No Roll Sinker will not get stuck under stumps and structure. Typically catfish rigs use 12 to 20 pound monofilament on stout casting or spinning outfits. Braided lines are great, too, but make sure to use some mono for a leader to give yourself some stretch and give. Keep your river rigs simple, and focus on location. A simple setup might look like line, sinker, barrel swivel, a few feet of mono leader to your bait, and a tube or worm.
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