TODAY, APRIL 7, WE STOCKED THE LAKE WITH TROUT FOR THE OPENING DAY, APRIL 14. KEEP IN MIND THE LAKE WILL BE CLOSED TO FISHING FROM TODAY UNTIL OPENING DAY!
Opening Day and Trout Stocking Announcement
Spring is officially here and it’s time to start thinking about Opening Day of the 2018
fishing season. This year Opening Day falls on Saturday, April 14th. In preparation for
Opening Day, the WLPOA will be stocking the lake with trout on April 7th. If conditions
allow, we plan to stock the fish at three different access points around the lake to provide additional opportunities for shore-bound anglers. To allow the fish time to
acclimate, the lake will be closed to fishing between the stocking date (April 7) and
opening day. You can start fishing for these fish at 6:00 AM on April 14th. Come out
and enjoy a long-standing Connecticut tradition with us. Following the morning fishing
activities, members of the Fishing Committee will be gathering for a pot-luck barbeque
starting around 11:30 AM. Please stop by, share some fish stories and bring some food
or drink to share.
A second trout stocking is scheduled to occur over the weekend of April 27th. Similar to
the first stocking, trout will be distributed at three different access points around the
Spring Tagged-Trout Fishing Contest (Prize Money)
The Fish Committee is pleased to announce the inaugural spring tagged-trout fishing
contest. Three larger trout will be tagged by the hatchery and stocked during April 7th
stocking event. The contest rules are as follows:
Pay the $20 entrance fee to be eligible for the cash prize. You must be preregistered
to be eligible to win.
The contest will run from 6:00 AM on April 14 until 12:00 PM on Sunday, June 3,
If you catch one of the tagged fish, you must take a cell phone or digital picture
clearly depicting yourself with the freshly caught fish. The picture must show the
tag and be date-stamped. Most cell phones automatically record the date when
the picture is taken so this should not be an issue.
If you plan to release the fish, please cut tag off where it enters the fish. Cut only
the tag and not the fish…. If you plan to keep the trout, you can simply pull the
tag out. Present the tag and the picture of the fish to the office to be registered
for the prize money.
Half of the monies collected for the entrance fee will be awarded as prize money
for anglers who successfully landed a tagged trout. The other half of the
entrance fee will go towards the Fish Committee budget, to be earmarked for
additional fish stocking. If only one tagged fish is landed, the angler will receive
the full half of the entrance fee total. If all three tagged fish are landed, half of the
entrance fee will be split between the anglers.
The prize money will be awarded to the winning anglers after the contest
concludes on June 3, 2018.
Please join us by participating in this inaugural event. The committee is hopeful this will
add some excitement to the spring trout fishing season. At a bare minimum, you are
making a donation to future fish stocking in the lake.
Annual Youth Fishing Derby – Saturday, May 19th
The Annual Youth Fishing Derby is scheduled for the morning of Saturday, May
19th. Similar to last year, we will be stocking trout at the boat ramp immediately prior to
the start of the derby. This provides derby participants with the opportunity to watch
and participate with the trout stocking and should increase success. There will also be
a demonstration on safe handling and release of the fish. The trout stocking will occur
between 8:00 and 8:30, with sign up and fishing to commence immediately following the
trout stocking. There will be prizes awarded for the first and biggest fish and hot dogs
and hamburgers will be served around noon. This is a great opportunity to introduce
children to the sport of fishing. We will have experienced anglers on hand to offer
advice or assistance when needed. Please come down and join us for some family fun.
On Saturday March 17th, fingerling walleye were stocked into the lake. The walleye
arrived in good condition and swam off to deep waters. The fingerling walleye ranged in
size from approximately 3 to 8 inches. The stocked walleye will grow quickly over the
next year and should provide angling success for years to come.
The Fishing Committee
RICH SHOWS HIS FISHING SKILLS WITH AN EVEN LARGER MUSKIE. HE IMMEDIATELY PUT IT BACK IN THE LAKE FOR A FUTURE FISHERMAN TO CATCH.
ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, THE STAFF AND THE FISH COMMITTEE BRAVED THE BITTERLY COLD WEATHER TO STOCK TROUT IN OUR LAKE. THEY CUT A HOLE IN THE ICE AND PUT EACH FISH IN THE FRIGID WATER. OUR SPECIAL THANKS TO TODD FROM ROWLEDGE FARMS, ED DUTKA, DON, AND JEFF FROM OUR STAFF, AND MIKE KAPAREIKO, MICK KAPAREIKO, GREG DEMERIS, AND HENRY MOORE OF THE FISH COMMITTEE.
Lake Ice from a recreational perspective
NOTE: THE WLPOA IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO VENTURE ON THE ICE, REGARDLESS OF ACTIVITY. THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY.
The Bearing Strength of Ice for Recreational Activities
Summary: This article looks at the time tested Minnesota DNR recommendations for ice thickness for different recreational activities and compares them with three papers on the subject. Some of the recommended formulas for heavy loads on properly maintained ice roads are significantly less conservative than the MN DNR numbers and are not suitable for recreational activities. NOTE: Ice thickness is just one factor in the strength of an ice sheet. In particular, ice can weaken quickly in thaw conditions. Some amount of thaw plays into about half the serious ice accidents in the North American Ice Belt.
Detail: The origin of the Minnesota DNR recommendations is not clear, however, whoever developed them did so in a logical fashion. Tim Smalley, their recently retired water safety specialist, and his team have done and continue to do a particularly good job of coming up with practical advice on recreational ice use. Their work has been widely adopted by other states and towns across the ice belt. Their website is well worth a visit.
Copyright 2012 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Reprinted with Permission
Ice roads in the Great White North
Ice roads are the best way to haul loads in parts of Canada. There has been a lot of work done toward making ice roads safer. Many papers have been written on various aspects of this problem. The three papers discussed here are:
Use of Ice Covers for Transportation by L. W. Gold, published in 1971. Gold’s work is based largely on empirical data of what did or did not fall through and the ice conditions involved. His reports are the basis for much of the work that followed. His suggested formula for thickness if some risk was acceptable, gives values that are at or below the breakthrough thickness for weights involved with recreational activities.
The CRREL paper Safety on Floating Ice Sheets. This was written a long time ago and is most likely based on the work of Gold and Others. It is an excellent look at the subject except for its recommended thickness formula (it has a low safety factor). As of April 2014 this and a couple of other papers on the same subject have been removed from the CRREL website.
BEST PRACTICE for Building and Working Safely on Ice Covers in Alberta This paper is an excellent look at working on ice. It offers basic advice for recreational activities.
The strength of a cold, black ice sheet increases with the square of the thickness: 2″ ice will support four times more load than 1″ ice, all other factors being equal.
The basic formula is:
follow link P=Ah2 This is sometimes referred to as ‘Gold’s Formula’.
Another form is:
P is the load
h is the thickness of the ice sheet
A is a constant which has units like pounds per square inch (psi), tons/square inch, kg/cm2 or pascals (newtons/ square meter). For this discussion we will use units of pounds and inches. The numeric value of A can easily be converted to different units.
C is a proportionality constant between flexural strength and bearing strength
F is the flexural strength as measured in simple beam tests with the top in tension
In CRREL Report 78-9: Flexural strength of ice in temperate lakes the authors (A.J. Gow, H.T Ueda and J.A.Ricard) found below freezing ice strengths ranging from 130 to 230 psi (average 180 psi). Based on their work they concluded that the proportionality constant (C) is about 1, meaning C*F=F=A so ‘A’ is a reasonable estimate of the flexural strength of ice as they measured it on Post Pond and Cannan Street Lake in New Hampshire. This makes it simple to estimate bearing strength from flexural strength which is relatively easy to measure.
Their report also includes a few tests in warm conditions. They found strengths as low as 50 psi. We have measured much lower values in advanced thaw conditions (see ‘Stage 5’ on the Thawed Ice page). Thawing ice is much more variable and harder to assess. This is particularly true with early season warm spells that occur while the ice is still thin. Much thicker ice in the spring often masks its low specific strength. Thin new ice in the spring is especially vulnerable to the strong spring sun. Ice in the two to three inch range can dramatically weaken in a couple hours or less of sunny conditions.
Note: An example of strong ice I have tested was 286 psi from a single crystal of S1 ice. The ice sheet it was in was well thawed with a flexual strength in nearby S2 ice (small crystal size) was abouit 50 psi. A test of cold snow ice that had been through some thaw cycles tested at 280 psi (Lake Willoughby 2017). The measurement uncertainty is at least 5%.
Safety Factor: Ice sheets have several common features that reduce their strength. Examples include wet cracks, changes in thickness, areas that froze later than what you are presently standing on, etc. Snow drifts can inhibit ice growth and reef currents, gas holes, etc can thin the ice from underneath. Also the load you impose on an ice sheet might change very quickly if three friends skate up to you for a conversation. The safety factor is an effort to reduce the risk that any areas of weaker ice are below the breakthrough strength. A safety factor of 3 is common for recreational ice use. This seems to be adequate for people who are well prepared for dealing with falling through.
A formula for safety factor is: Safety factor (S) = the average body weight breakthrough strength of cold ice (150 psi) divided by the load (lbs) times the thickness squared (hxh, in inches).
buy nolvadex online overnight S=150/P*h^2
Thaw weakened ice is explicitly excluded in most minimum thickness recommendations. It is common to either not recognize that ice is being weakened by thawing or to not care. Although many people get away with it, it is pushing your luck. Reasonably well thawed black ice (stage 4) has a strength of about 50 psi (1/3 of the 150 psi that represents the average strength of cold ice).
Body Weight Breakthrough: In Vermont we have established that the 180 lb breakthrough thickness for black ice is about 1.1″. This corresponds to a flexural strength of about 150 psi. Breakthrough strength in this weight range is obviously what skaters and fishermen (on foot) care about most. In a recent conversation with Tony Gow he suggested using using A=50 psi. This provides a cold ice safety factor of about three.
With this in mind, Table 1 looks at the Minnesota DNR thickness recommendations.
Ice road operators can get away with much higher values of ‘A’ as they have many rules and procedures for building, assessing and maintaining their roads. Values up of up 250 psi have been suggested if some risk of breaking through is acceptable (eg military transport).
Some of the criterion are:
Non-moving loads need more ice than moving loads
Concentrated loads need more thickness than spread out loads.
There is a range of acceptable speeds over the ice. Ice can be significantly weakened by loads moving at the the wrong speed.
Snow ice is included at 1/2 its thickness in some studies. This appears to come from studies done in Russia before 1956. (See discussion point 4 below)
Sudden and large decreases in air temperature warrant more conservative ‘A’ values or a ‘stay off the ice for a day’ recommendation.
Warm weather is the behind many ice fatalities.
Wet cracks are treated as reducing the bearing strength by 1/2 at the edge of the crack for perpendicular cracks and 1/4 the strength for cracks parallel to the direction of travel and next to the vehicle.
Layered ice (frozen snow ice over slush over black ice): Only the strongest layer is considered.
Ice road construction, monitoring and maintenance: The Alberta report goes into considerable detail about building and managing ice roads. Doing this well has a lot to do with how reliable the road will be.
Table 2 lists looks at the various recommendations for minimum ice thickness needed to support a 200 lb person on foot. The ‘Alberta’ and ‘Gold’ numbers are calculated with their ice road formulas. They are included here to show why they should not be used for recreational activities. The safety factor is based on the approximately 150 psi flexural strength we found in our body weight breakthrough tests.
Reference links and comments:
Ref D: Article on Body Weight Breakthrough Thickness.
Ref G: Use of Ice Covers for Transportation by L. W. Gold, published in 1971. This paper is an excellent and widely used perspective on transporting heavy loads over ice sheets in Canada. The numbers 50 and 250 in Table 1 refer to values of ‘A’ (in psi). Gold found in his surveys that there were very few breakthroughs below 50 psi and that, if some risk was acceptable, that 250 psi was OK, at least at the heavy loads/thick/cold ice situation that he was most focused on. As you can see above, using 250 psi at body weight is pretty much a guarantee of a swim.
Gold’s 1960 Paper. This paper has more detail on the circumstances involved in different breakthroughs and safe passages.
Ref A: BEST PRACTICE for Building and Working Safely on Ice Covers in Alberta This is a modern, comprehensive look at practical bearing strength. The numbers 4 and 7 are values of ‘A’ in units of kg/cm2. Table 3 below looks at their Figure 14 and TABLE 5: MINIMUM ICE THICKNESS FOR LIGHTER LOADS. These numbers may look conservative but for foot travel it is common to have two or more people stand near each other. For snowmobiles, the 7″ minimum is concervative but reasonable.
1) The Minnesota DNR recommends 4″ as the minimum ice thickness for any ice activity. Ice thinner than 4″ is more likely to have thin spots or weak ice. It is especially important that people going out on ice between 2″ and 4″ thick be experienced with lake ice, be equipped for assessing the ice and be fully prepared to fall through and rescue themselves and each other if they misjudge the situation.
2) Most recreational breakthroughs occur at local thin or weak (thawed) spots that can be found on almost any ice sheet (mostly pressure ridges, recently frozen open water and holes of various types). Knowing the ice sheet thickness is just a starting point. Identifying and avoiding thin/weak ice is the bigger part of staying on top. Even more important is being equipped and skilled at rescue of yourself and others: ice claws, test pole/drill, life jacket, throw rope, buddies to through their rope to you, knowledge about escaping from a sinking car or truck, etc.
3) None of these recommended thickness numbers apply in thaw conditions (see note above).
4) Snow ice in many papers on bearing strength is rated at half the strength of black ice. In CRREL Report 78-9 they found cold, fully saturated snow ice to be stronger than black ice. Snow ice can weaken dramatically in thaw conditions, probably faster than small grain ice. The authors of CR 78-9 suggest that the half strength consideration may make sense in warm conditions.
5) Contrary to often stated advice on the www, old ice is generally not significantly weaker than new ice if the ice type, degree of thaw and other factors are the same. This may be a case of writers of advice confusing ‘old ice’ with ‘thawed ice’.
6) If you are thinking of driving anything on ice, keep in mind that this is a high risk endeavor. In Minnesota from 1976 to 2013 vehicles account for 60% of fatalities (70% in the early part of the season). Read the Vehicles and Ice page for perspective and suggestions for maximizing your chances of living through a breakthrough. The best bet is to leave your vehicle on shore.
Use the Minnesota DNR recommendations as a starting point for minimum thicknesses for recreational activities on ice that is below freezing. Of course, thicker is better.
If you would like a formula, either of these will work :
Don’t use the minimum thickness formulas for ice roads for recreational activities (unless they have an ‘A’ value of 50 psi or less).
These recommendations do not apply to ice that is or has recently been exposed to temperatures above freezing. Strong sunlight can weaken ice at temperatures a little below freezing and speed up weakening at above freezing temperatures. This is more pronounced at lower latitudes and near the end of the ice season.
For a more comprehensive treatment bearing strength see Ice Engineering (by Lennart Fransson) or River Lake Ice Engineering (Edited by George Ashton). These sources take into account how concentrated the load is, static vs moving loads, etc.
Top 12 Channel Catfish Tips, Start Catching More Catfish
by Chad Ferguson
This information is geared towards targeting numbers of channel catfish and fast paced action.
While you very well may catch some larger channel catfish by following these tips, they’re geared towards putting numbers of fish in the boat and doing so quickly!
I catch a lot of larger channel catfish using these techniques as well as some blue catfish also (and you will too) but if you’re looking for specific information on catching larger fish this is probably not the approach for you. Many of the same principles apply but this is all about what I call “bread and butter catfish”.
Here in Texas, where I guide and fish, we don’t have the luxury of having huge channel catfish like many parts of the country.
That’s fine though because our trophy blue catfish more than make up for the lack of big channel cats.
I fish for channel catfish primarily for fast paced action, lot’s of fish and with a goal of catching as many of the them as I can as quickly as possible. if I’m after bigger fish and catching trophy class catfish I target one of the other types of catfish.
Channel Catfish – Bread and Butter Catfishing
I’ve taught many people to catch channel catfish through my career as a professional catfish guide and find that many people go about it the wrong way, making a lot of mistakes that cost them fish. These mistakes are often what make the difference between fishing and catching.
In most waters in the United States, with very few exceptions, channel catfish are going to be of “average” size. There are some places with HUGE channel catfish but in most waters, fish from one to a few pounds are going to be what is typically caught when targeting channel catfish.
Understanding this helps a lot when it comes to tailoring your approach to catching these fish.
These tips will help you avoid some of the common mistakes and start putting more catfish on the end of your line immediately.
For me, fishing for channel catfish is all about numbers, I like to catch them fast and furious and get as many in the boat as I can, as fast as I can. If I catch some bigger fish in the process (which I often do) then it’s just a “bonus”.
Catches of 100 or more fish in a few hours are entirely possible with the right gear, rigs, baits and in the right location.
Following you’ll find some “kick starter” tips to make sure you have the right tackle and gear to get started fishing for channel catfish successfully and tips on locating and catching them.
The Right Catfish Rods
Regardless of what you’re fishing for, the right gear helps. The last thing you want when you are fishing is to either not have your gear working correctly or have gear that is too heavy or too light.
That being said, don’t get too wrapped up in catfish gear, if you’ve got some rods and reels you can use then just get out there and start fishing.
For fishing rods, I like a 7’ or 7’6” length fishing rod.
The extra length on the rod helps with “finesse techniques” like flipping, pitching or shooting and getting the bait in the right areas but also helps give more control over fish.
Having a longer fishing rod also makes it easier to cast further.
The longer the fishing rod, the further you can accurately cast.
I like a rod that is light enough to hold for an extended period of time and something that is sensitive so typical heavyweight e-glass rods are out.
What you need is something that is light, comfortable to hold and sensitive, yet has enough backbone to “manhandle” a fish when needed for larger channel catfish or those times you hook into a big blue or flathead cat.
You can use a heavier weight graphite rod or look a options specifically built for catfish like my Chad Ferguson Signature Series Catfish Rod from Whisker Seeker Tackle.
I designed this rod to be light and sensitive enough for catching channel catfish and finesse fishing techniques yet heavy enough to hoist in big trophy class catfish. The blank is a mixture of s-glass and graphite for the perfect combination of strength and sensitivity.
For more in depth information on choosing the right catfish rods check out the Ultimate Guide To Catfish Rods.
The Right Catfish Reels
When fishing for channel catfish you don’t need a huge spool of line and you’re not going to use really heavy line so a low profile bait cast reel will work.
These are the same style reels popular with bass fishermen and these will work great for most people.
As long as you have a properly functioning reel and a good drag system, you are good to go.
I prefer an Abu Garcia 5000 Series reel (5500C3). This reel is a great size for channel catfish and has a good drag system. Not to mention it has been around for well over 50 years and they will last forever if you take care of them.
The price of a quality low profile baitcast reel and a Abu Garcia 5500C3 reel are going to be about the same and if give a choice I will always opt for the Abu Garcia.
What about spinning reels and spincasting reels?
These will work if you have to use them but you are going to get much better technique in the long run with a baitcasting reel.
Learning to use a baitcasting reel will be your best choice in the long run.
For more in depth information on choosing a catfish reel check out the Ultimate Guide To Catfish Reels.
The Right Fishing Line
Having the right fishing line is just as important as the rod and reel and use.
I would fish with a “snoopy pole” with the right line before I chose the best rod and reel out there with the wrong line.
When it comes to fishing line for catfish there are a few things you need to remember:
Catfish are not line shy – color of the fishing line does not matter
Many of the most effective techniques for numbers of channel cats require some “finesse” and if you are using fishing line that is too heavy you will have difficulty with these techniques.
Ten to twelve pound test fishing line (I prefer 12 lb test) is more than enough line to land channel catfish using these techniques.
Too heavy, you’ll have problems with “finesse” and too light, your line will snap.
When it comes to fishing line don’t be cheap. Stick with a well known brand from a reputable manufacturer. I’ve recently been using Whisker Seeker line and Stren Catfish Mono. I’ve used a variety of other brands over the years as well, there’s many options available.
This is the link between you and the fish and you don’t want some cheap knockoff bargain basement fishing line in any situation. The cost between the “knockoff stuff” and the “good stuff” is minimal when it comes to line so go ahead and “splurge” a little.
Before your next channel catfishing trip make sure you have the right gear and more importantly the right line so you are setup for success.
It will help you catch more fish through not only assuring it doesn’t break at that critical moment but allowing you to use the best techniques for catching channel catfish.
What about braided fishing line?
Braided fishing line is great if you’re fishing heavy cover or specifically need it for technique but it’s overused and much more difficult to fish with (and also much more expensive).
If you’re 100% sure that you need braid then by all means, use it but don’t default to using braided fishing line unless you’re 100% sure.
It’s one of the most overused catfish tackle items there is. Braided fishing line certainly has advantages and is a good fit for many applications but for the most part you shouldn’t need it using these techniques fishing for numbers of channel cats.
When it comes to weight and fishing for channel catfish you need to use the least amount of weight possible when targeting numbers of channel catfish.
Channel catfish have a very light, soft bite and when they bite and meet resistance they will often shy away. The smaller the fish are, the worse they are about shying away when they find something they don’t like.
Larger channel catfish will often shy away from weight and resistance as well.
You typically get one opportunity and the fish don’t usually come back for a second bite, so catching them the first time they strike is critical.
The more weight you add, the more resistance. The more resistance, the more fish you will miss in most instances.
When possible you only want to use enough weight to hold your bait or rig in the right area, or give you “just enough” to cast.
That’s all you need, no more.
The Right Hooks
Hooks make a huge difference. For channel catfish I prefer treble hooks.
The two factors to keep in mind when it comes to hooks are how sharp they are and size.
Sharp hooks are critical for catfish.
The mouth of a catfish is not like the “paper” mouth of bass, crappie and many species of fish.
The mouth of a catfish is hard and it takes a good sharp hook to penetrate that.
Make sure you are using a good quality hook and that the hook is good and sharp. Check them often and make sure they stay sharp. If the hook isn’t sharp enough to easily penetrate with a quick hook set, you need a new hook.
You can test this by scratching the point of the hook on the top of a fingernail. If it does not scratch the nail with very little pressure then it is not sharp enough.
Next time you catch a catfish stick your finger in its mouth and feel around some. Poke around a bit and feel how hard they mouth is inside and out.
This will give you a much better understanding of what you are faced with and why you need a good sharp hook to penetrate the mouth of a catfish when you are setting the hook.
Most people have tendency to go way too small or way too big on hooks.
I prefer treble hooks for prepared baits and a #6 size hook has always been the “magic size”.
For fishing with baits other than prepared bait I like a 3/0 kahle hook but it’s rare that I use another other than “punch bait” for channel catfish.
When using treble hooks #8 is often too small, #4 is usually too large and #6 is usually just right.
I always start with a #6 and then if for some reason the fish are being really aggressive then I will increase the size to a #4 (a #4 is larger than a #6 hook).
If your hook is too small the fish will swallow them. This makes getting them off the hook much slower and you either lose tackle or kill the fish, which eliminates being able to release any of them alive.
If your hook is too big the catfish:
Won’t get the hook in their mouth so there is no chance of hooking them
With certain hook styles they will get the hook in their mouth and the hook will not perform properly.
There are so many styles and variations of hooks that it would be impossible for me to cover the “perfect size” for all of them. Use some judgment here, or stick to the two hooks I suggest.
I know these hooks work. If you are following the tips covered here, you’ll only have a need for treble hooks.
The Right Catfish Rig
Catfish rigs, or what is on the business end of your line are something I get questioned about often.
When it comes to channel catfish the answers about catfish rigs are pretty simple.
I fish the Secret Catfish Rig almost exclusively.
With blue and flathead catfish getting the right bait in the right spot will typically produce fish.
Variances in rigs are not as important because most of the time blues and flatheads will “hammer” a bait. There are exceptions but most of the time when one of these fish hit, you know it.
Channel catfish on the other hand are much different, especially when fishing for numbers.
Most anglers don’t recognize when they’re getting a bite and when they do recognize they are getting a bite, they don’t react quickly enough, which results in missed fish.
If you are fishing in deeper water then a slip sinker rig with a very light weight is a good rig for channel catfish.
Most of the fishing I do for channel catfish is done in water five feet deep or less and a far more effective rig for channel catfish in shallow water is a slip bobber rig if you’re not Secret Catfish Rig.
The slip bobber is good, the Secret Catfish Rig is best if you’re going to target numbers of channel catfish and not bottom fishing.
The difference is all about sensitivity, detecting the bites and when you detect the bites.
When you know you are getting a bite and react at the right time, you’ll catch more fish.
The problem is that with most catfish rigs you are waiting to feel the bite or waiting to see the bite and you don’t feel or see it quickly enough.
Most people cannot react quickly enough when they feel the bite and they onlyfeel a small portion of the bites.
Here are some of the advantages of using the Secret Catfish Rig:
More sensitive than any other fishing rig
You’ll know when anything comes anywhere near your bait
You’ll know when the slightest bite is taking place
You’ll be able to react quickly when there is a bite
Typical catch ratios are as much as 600% greater than any other catfish rig**
You’ll save money and catch more fish
**Catch ratios of 600% or more have been reported by many anglers using the Secret Catfish Rig fishing next to anglers using other rigs. Some anglers report catching as many as 7 to 1 fish against other anglers not using the same setup.
If you’re looking for other options you can find more on the other top catfish rigs here.
The Right Catfish Bait
I get so many questions about baits for channel catfish it kind of makes my head spin.
I catch thousands of channel catfish over the course of a year and one thing has proven itself time and time again, no matter what I’ve tried.
There is no better bait for numbers of channel catfish than prepared bait when it comes to catching “numbers of fish” in the 1-5 pound range.
If you are after BIG channel catfish then there are better options but most people who target channel catfish are not in it for trophies, myself included.
Call them “stink baits” if you want. Although they may stink to you, they don’t stink to a catfish. That strong smell just provides a scent for the catfish to follow and bite.
Channel catfish have a keen sense of smell and taste and these senses allow them to detect molecules of substances dissolved in water.
The sense channel catfish use to detect smell and amino acids are very similar so most scientists lump them into what they call “chemoreception”.
Channel catfish use chemoreception to avoid predators, find prey, locate other channel catfish find “home areas” or spawning sites and also coordinate spawning times.
A channel catfish body is covered with “taste buds” that provide this amazing ability for them to detect these amino acids and they have approximately 20,000 internal “taste buds” and the exterior of the body has approximately 175,000 external “taste buds”.
The barbels (whiskers) have as many as 25 taste buds per square millimeter and there are small patches of the gills that have as many as 50 “taste buds” per square millimeter.
Having an entire body that allows the fish to detect smells allows it to “key in” on smells from as far as 15 feet away but some scientists speculate that could be even further.
Scent travels further in warm water so the warmer the water is, the further away the fish will be able to detect smells or amino acids within the water.
Channel catfish can detect several amino acids at 1 part per 100 million.
The best example I’ve seen is a channel catfish could detect an ounce of substance dissolved in 100,000 railroad tank cars.
Understanding that the channel catfish is a large hypersensitive “taste bud” swimming in the water provides a great understanding of why prepared baits work so well. That strong smell being placed in the water provides something for the fish to really “key in on” and follow.
There are many different types of prepared baits and there is one style of bait I really like and most anglers call this style of bait “punch bait”.
Punch bait is always the answer I give when it comes to questions about the best bait for channel catfish when rod and reel fishing.
Punch bait refers to the process used to bait the hook.
The bait is very thick and has fiber in it and the angler uses a plain treble hook to fish with. You take the hook and “punch” the hook into the bait to bait the hook and it sticks to a plain old treble hook.
The reasons I prefer “punch bait” are:
They Work – Plain and simple there are a few brands that work and work really well and have proven themselves time and time again. I couldn’t begin to count how many thousands of channel catfish I have caught on punch baits.
Easy To Fish With – These baits eliminate the need for dip tubes, dip worms, springs, sponges and other “bait holder” devices that many prepared baits need to hold on the hook. This not only saves you a lot of money but not having to fool with these devices saves you time as well.
These are still my “go to” bait for channel catfish. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when other baits will work better in certain situations but nearly 100% of the time I spend targeting channel catfish, I do so with punch baits.
If you came to me tomorrow and said Chad, you can only use one channel catfish bait for now on, pick one, I’d say “punch bait” without hesitation.
There are many good brands of punch bait on the market but there are a few that stand above the rest and are “readily available”.
If you are going to fish for channel catfish I strongly suggest you get a bucket of one of these baits. They always catch fish.
If you’re not catching fish with these baits you’re doing something wrong, plain and simple.
CJ’s Catfish Punch Bait in Shad or Crawfish flavor
Sudden Impact Fiber Bait from Team Catfish
Sure Shot Catfish Punch Bait made by my good friend Benny Roberts
Of course there’s other catfish baits that work also and you can even make your own homemade bait but prepared bait is without question the best option for numbers of catfish.
Set The Hook, FAST!
Most people have this image of catfish hitting and running with a long length of line with a bait clicker running on the reel, clicking away.
While this is often true of blue and flathead catfish this is not the case with channel catfish when targeting smaller fish.
Pound for pound channel catfish fight harder than blues or flatheads but when it comes to the “bite” they are much more “finicky”.
They don’t like resistance and they will often “shy away” at the first sign of resistance.
They usually have a very “light bite”, they don’t just “smack the pole” out of your hand.
It is common for channel catfish to do what many anglers refer to as a “mealy mouth” where they will swim up and just kind of “suck” on a bait.
I have a good friend I have been fishing with for years. He is some forty years older than I am and he knows a lot about channel catfish. He insists on fishing with two rods and he sits both of the rods down in rod holders waiting for a bite.
He uses the Secret Catfish Rig just like I do, but he doesn’t hold the fishing rod in his hand.
I hold the rod in my hand, one single rod, and in many instances I can catch seven or eight fish to each one that he catches, using his two rods that he doesn’t hold.
I’ve tested this against other people as well and I can always catch more fish holding the rod, even when fishing side by side against some very skilled anglers.
The reason behind this is as soon as there is an indication of a bite, I set the hook. When they have an indication of a bite, they go for the rod but by the time they grab it and set the hook, the catfish is usually gone.
If you’ll hold the rod and be ready for a bite when fishing for channel catfish, you’ll catch more fish, period.
The bottom line is you need to be able to set the hook quickly.
What about waiting to feel the bite?
Tight lining is popular for channel catfish. When tight lining you are waiting to feel the bite and the fish is meeting resistance. If you have superman like reflexes you will catch some fish but the fish is gone by the time most anglers get the hook set.
Waiting to feel a bite can work but when you can see a bite at the very first indication, even before it is about to happen you catch more fish.
This is why the Secret Catfish Rig catches so many channel catfish, because you can see every single bite, every nibble, you can often even tell when a fish is getting anywhere near the bait.
Having a visual indicator not only allows you to prepare, it allows you to set the hook quickly and land the fish.
Hold the rod and move quick regardless of what type of catfish rig you’re using.
Cover is one of my favorite places to catch channel catfish, and it produces.
Cover is basic anything the fish can hide or conceal themselves in or around and it is popular for fishing for just about every species of freshwater fish, catfish included.
Cover can include (just to name a few):
Stumps, trees, brush or timber
Rock piles and rip rap
Channel Catfish love cover because:
It provides shade
It provides protection for them from other predators
It protects them from the “elements”
It provides an area for spawning
It is rich in bait fish, insects and other food sources
If given the option of heading out and fishing open water for channel catfish or heading into or around cover and fishing it, I will always choose to fish cover.
The right kind of cover is going to vary based on time of year, depth the fish are holding in, and what the fish are feeding on. This is something I could fill hundreds of pages on. Get on the water and start fishing and experiment. You’ll find the right cover.
Keep cover in mind when you are choosing your fishing spot, and start fishing these areas.
Cover is not just above the water, most anglers focus on what they can see. When you can see something above the water that’s a good indication there is similar cover below the water as well. Remember not to focus solely on the cover you can see, but try to identify what might be there that you cannot see as well and start fishing it!
When I covered channel catfish gear and tackle I talked a bit about “finesse techniques” and the fact that you want to be able to pitch, flip and shoot, just to name a few.
There are two types of anglers.
The first goes out, throws bait in the water and waits for the fish to come to their bait.
The second goes out, finds the fish and puts the bait in front of the fish.
Which group would you guess catches more fish?
The angler that goes and finds the fish and puts the bait in front of the fish will always catch more fish, than those that sit around and wait for the fish to come to them.
This is true not only of catfish but any species of fish you are fishing for.
When you narrow your search down to a specific area where the fish are holding, and get in the general area you will often start to catch fish.
When fishing for channel catfish really “dialing it down” in these areas and finding the specific areas where the fish are holding will make you a more successful fisherman.
This is what I refer to as finesse fishing.
The anglers that get in the good general area will catch some fish.
The anglers that really “dial it in” and finesse fish will catch amazing numbers of fish.
The best example I can provide of this is one of the many channel catfish patterns I fish involves fishing in some really heavy cover.
In these areas I cast baits out and start watching for activity. We usually start getting bites pretty quickly and there will be certain areas that are more productive than others.
The area I’m fishing may be 100 square feet or so with as many as five or six baits in that area. There will almost always be small “pockets” within this area that produces bites immediately and fish. Every time you put bait into these areas you will either get bites or catch fish.
In a one hundred square foot area these “hot spots” may often be one or two areas that are as small as just three or four square feet.
125 Fish – Six Square Feet
One morning I fished five clients and within minutes we started catching fish. We pulled a five man limit (125 fish) out of an area that was about six square feet in less than three hours.
Every time we dropped baits in the water we got bit and when the anglers did their part, we caught fish, every time. When we got the baits outside of this small six square foot area we would not get bites, or would wait long periods of time to get bites.
Paying attention to what is happening, developing patterns and when applicable getting into cover and finesse fishing will pay huge rewards by putting more fish on your line.
I cover this in depth in the Summer Channel Catfish Techniques eBook and cover all the details you need to narrow these areas down and start catching more fish.
Once you find these areas to finesse fish you need to be able to get into these areas and finesse fish them.
This means you need a rig that you can cast easily, accurately and will fit into tight areas designed for this type of fishing.
Getting the bait in the right spot and setting the hook quickly makes all the difference.
Sometimes moving your bait a few feet, or even a few inches, can make all of the difference.
The First One
I have a friend named Gordon Burrell. He’s the only catfish guide I’ve ever taken a guided fishing trip with. I fished with him on a guided catfish trip over thirty years ago when I was just knee high to a grasshopper (he’s a good 30+ years older than me).
Back in the 80’s he manufactured the popular catfish bait called Gordon’s Catfish Bait and was a channel catfish guide on some of the local lakes.
Years after I fished with him on this guided fishing trip, we bumped into each other at the lake one day, started talking, quickly became friends, and started doing a lot of fishing together, especially for channel catfish.
Whenever we would start fishing for channel catfish, Gordon would constantly say “the hardest part is catching the first one”.
He’d repeat that phrase over and over again when we were getting started fishing.
“Chad, the hardest part is catching the first one”.
I knew this, but I had never really thought about it until Gordon started constantly repeating it, and it sort of “stuck” with me.
I started thinking about it a lot after that, and eventually found myself saying it.
When fishing for channel catfish, once you catch one, you can usually find a TON more. There’s exceptions but most often it’s true.
There are going to be times when you catch one channel catfish and don’t catch any more but the vast majority of the time once you find that one channel catfish, you can load the boat.
What does this mean to you?
Once you catch that first one, keep working and covering that area, you’ll usually start catching more fish somewhere in or very near the area.
Pay close attention to what you are doing and where the fish are biting. Look for the spot within a spot.
As I mentioned when I discussed finessing it, sometimes the difference of a few feet in one direction or another can make all the difference when it comes to catching channel catfish.
Then you should be paying close attention to the characteristics of the area you are fishing.
Items like depth, wind, cover, structure, water temperature, water clarity and everything that makes up that area are all important elements.
Then, when the bite slows down, or stops, start looking for other areas with the same characteristics.
More often than not, if you can duplicate that area you can start catching more fish and it’s as simple as moving from place to place and catching them.
The 15 Minute Rule
I’ve covered this time and time again, but you need to understand it.
When you are fishing for numbers of fish, especially channel catfish you should never sit around and wait for the fish to come to you.
Successful anglers go find the fish. That’s what produces numbers.
The fifteen minute rule is basically this: If you go fifteen minutes without putting fish in the boat, you move.
When fishing for channel catfish I typically know if the location I am fishing is going to produce within minutes of getting my baits in the water. At times it can take a little bit longer, but not often.
If you fish for 15 minutes and nothing happens, you need to move, you need to go find the fish.
If you are sitting around waiting for them to come to you, you’ll spend a lot of time not catching fish.
If you are getting bites and having some activity then it becomes a judgment call.
Most often when people are getting bites and missing fish (when fishing with prepared baits) it means they are not setting the hook quickly enough and not detecting the bites, which is again why you use the Secret Catfish Rig.
If you are confident the bites you are getting are catfish and you are not catching them, you can stick around a bit longer or move but if you’re not detecting the bites and setting the hook so you can actually catch the fish then no amount of moving will change things, so you might as well stay where you are and not catch fish.
You’ll save time, effort and trouble this way.
The better alternative though is to follow my instructions outlined in this guide. If you follow these steps in conjunction with fishing the secret catfish rig you’ll be detecting these bites, landing the fish and catching them every time you move.
Want more in depth information to start catching more catfish on your next fishing trip? Check out the Catfish Edge products. They’re like a guided fishing trip online. Learn everything you could learn fishing with me at the fraction of the price of guided catfish trip.
Summer Channel Catfish Techniques, The Secret Catfish Rig and Drift Fishing for Catfish are all great choices for learning how to be a better channel catfish angler. You can find all of these and more in the Catfish Edge store.