Becoming A Better Catfish Angler
By Brad Durick
Catfishing is exploding in the United States. In many circles it is considered the fastest growing segment of fishing. While some long time catfish experts deny this increase in anglers and insist it is just people coming out from the shadows and being seen like they never have before. One thing we cannot argue is catfishing is popular.
It is obvious that catfishing is getting more press, and why wouldn’t it? Of course it would when pictures of huge fish show up on social media every day. It is actually becoming common to see blue cats over 100 pounds caught somewhere in the United States.
If you take a look at social media catfish groups you will see many people getting into catching catfish. You see those who have always catfished but are now going all in and upping the game to reach the next level. You are seeing people who have fished for other things changing species to catfishing. Even with all the hype of catfishing growing, there still is not much new in terms of information on how to catch these great fish. Sure there are articles everywhere, most are very basic. Of course there is some new info coming in with new techniques and gear.
As the catfish world catches up with the likeness of say bass or walleyes there are some simple steps that can help you become a better and more efficient catfish angler. I use these steps on a daily basis and I know many other successful catfish anglers do too.
• Understand the catfish – The best catfish anglers are students of the fish, knowing and understanding what makes them tick. The spawn, habitat, patterns and what triggers them to do what they do. These successful anglers understand seasonal migrations and what dictates their location throughout the season. They also know about baits and the best way to present them to have the best success.
• Fish the Best Catfish Waters – The best catfishermen fish the best destinations. Larry Myhre, retired outdoor writer for the Sioux City Journal in Iowa wrote “you should fish where the fish are.” This does not just mean the best places for catfish, but also the best times of year, time of day, and best locations. All while using the best baits and methods to catch more and bigger catfish. If budget won’t allow travel all over the United States, pick the best catfish water that you can find to stay in your budget.
• Be Mentally Prepared – Successful cat anglers are some of the most mentally prepared anglers around. They have to produce fish every day but when the fish don’t cooperate they have to find a way to put a positive spin on it to keep the clients entertained as they tweak the plan and adjust in hopes of finding success. They have an extremely positive attitude. The next catfish is just one anchor drop or cast away. They are able to focus on connecting the dots to find what will put fish in the boat, while ensuring the guests have a good time. The best anglers are already thinking two or three spots ahead of where they are actually fishing.
• Confidence in Catfishing – This could easily go into the category of mentally prepared but it is such an important piece of the puzzle that it should stand on its own. Confidence is demanding success. If you don’t believe you can catch catfish in every situation you probably won’t. If you are sure of yourself, your techniques, knowledge, electronics and gear you are prepared to succeed and won’t except anything else. Confidence is more important than many people think but it is a key to success.
• Hard Work – The best catfish anglers work hard. They move and use efficiency in the boat or shore to cover more water and put more fish in the boat with the time allotted. They study the surroundings and utilize their equipment to find the fish in given locations and match the findings with the knowledge of the fish they have learned over the years of experience. On the water success is directly correlated with hard work off the water as well, such as preparing a game plan and reviewing catch records and notes to head off any situations that may arise.
• Top-notch Equipment – The best catfish anglers don’t always use the most expensive equipment, but they always use the best equipment that can stand up to the constant abuse that it must endure. From their electronics to rods, reels, hooks, sinkers and nets. They also maintain said equipment to keep it in working order so there’s no surprises on the next outing.
• Technology – For the advanced angler, technology is what sets them apart. Besides understanding what makes the fish do what they do they know how to utilize the best technology available to them. For Example, with the new Humminbird Helx G2N or Solix units, catfish anglers now have access to the best side image technology with MEGA imaging. They also have the newest weapon in catfishing on uncharted rivers and lakes with AutoChart Live. This goes back to hard work but one can now put in the work and time to create a custom map of the lake or river. They can also run side image while mapping to get a lay of the land. Once this is done they simply go back to the areas of the map that hold fish and look at the spot. Tie all of that in with new trolling motors like the Minn Kota Ulterra. A trolling motor with spot lock can be used as your anchor. With just a push of a button on the remote and you can make a move. This simply saves time with moving and allows you to be more efficient in the number of spots you can fish in a given day. This will directly increase catfishing efficiency.
• Organization – The best catfish anglers have a plan. A plan of where to start fishing based on previous days or weather conditions and time of year. The book Advanced Catfishing Made Easy can help with the planning of these starting points. The angler is also organized in that the gear is set up and ready to go. Bait is loaded and in an easy to get to Frabill bucket or Big Frig (for frozen baits). The boat is clean tidy for easy movement, and ability to find and quickly get to everything you need when you need it.
• Attention to Details – Everything stated so far are details, but now that you are getting out on the water you need to pay attention to what is going on. How is the weather, how is the water. What are the fish reacting to and how are they biting. By paying attention to these small details you can make adjustments and fine tune the gear, pattern or baits to the situation you are being faced with. Sometimes these conditions change two or even three times in a given day and the attention to detail and ability to go with the flow can keep you more successful through it all.
These are nine suggestions to make you a better catfish angler. They are steps that all great anglers in many species use. You probably will not be able to master all of the steps overnight but fishing is an ongoing adventure and over time you can learn and adapt to these steps eventually mastering them all making yourself a better angler day in and day out. There truly is no better teacher than time on the water and with these simple steps your time on the water will be a more effective and you will be a more successful catfish angler.