Catfish are one of the most popular fish to eat in many states. If you do not believe it, take a look at all of the catfish restaurants in states such as Texas and other states that boast high populations of this tasty fish!
In Texas, there are three freshwater varieties: blue catfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish, also known as yellow catfish and Opelousas catfish.
In my discussion with Jeff Henson, biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, he reminded me that the world record blue catfish was caught in January 2004 on Lake Texoma, which is situated on the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas. The monster weighed 121 pounds and was caught on a rod a reel.
The next largest catfish on record is a yellow cat, which was caught on a trotline and weighed a little more than 100 pounds. Channel catfish seldom weigh more than 20 pounds, but the record is around 50 pounds!
Try Stink Baits
To catch catfish, bait up with something smelly, such as prepared cheese bait or blood bait, and drop the offering down to the bottom. That will usually generate some action, but mostly with channel cats because they scavenge and will eat just about anything. Blues will also scavenge, but prefer fish so minnows or cut shad will get you the best action if you are after blue catfish.
When it comes to fishing for yellow catfish, they are predators just like a bass. They will not scavenge, but want live fare. On May 21, 2004, Pat Crane caught a 48-pound yellow catfish while fishing for bass with a soft plastic purple worm on Lake Conroe. Undoubtedly the fish thought it had located a nice snake on which to dine. They, like bass, are not inclined to stalk prey, but attack from an ambush position. So if you are fishing for yellow catfish, you need to use live bait such as small perch or bluegill. Of course, you could try the big, dark-colored, plastic worm like Crane used.
I have noticed that is it is easy to use too large of a hook when going after blues or channel cats. When you look at the average catch that runs between 1-1/2- and 3 pounds, they have a relatively small mouth. A small hook is in order or you can spend all day just baiting your hook as they strip the bait from it.
I spoke with fishing guide Butch Terpe about his preferences and he said he like 15-pound-test line with a No.6 treble, sponge hook. He said anything smaller or using a single hook and catfish tend to swallow the hook. He then often has to cut the line and put on a new hook because he cannot get the hooks out.
Yellow cats are a whole different story. You need to use larger hooks not only to accommodate the larger bait, live fish, but the odds are you are more likely to catch a larger yellow and do not want them to straighten out the hook and get away.
So this summer do not get discouraged as the fishing slows down, but adjust. Get out early or late, and bait up for the catfish of your choice. You may get some great fishing as well as great table fare!
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