Catfish Magic Trick!
Ok well I don't really know any magic tricks, but what if I told you that I can teach you how to turn a worm, piece of corn, bread crumbs, etc. into a huge catfish? You'd probably say that I'm crazy because the big big ones won't eat a tiny worm let alone corn and bread crumbs. Well I'm going to tell you how and you can be the one to convice your friends that you know magic!
My Magic Show
A Little Fish Story
"The big ones won't eat those things, good luck trying,"
I had those exact words said to me one day last summer at the bait shop. The gentleman running the counter always claimed he knew everything about catching the big fish in this area and I've seen some of his monsters. He literally knew ALMOST everything. When I put the container of night crawlers on the counter, he casually asked me what I was fishing for today and I told him only the biggest catfish in the river. Of course, he laughed and said that to me. I laughed too and even made a bet with him. If I win, I get free worms next time and if he won, he gets free labor from me during the upcoming bass tournament. I was to beat his biggest catfish from that river, a 32 pound blue catfish. Long story short, I got free worms when he seen my 36 pound flathead later that night. He asked me how I did it and I just replied "Magic".
Not Really Magic, Just A Chain - The Food Chain
Anyone who went through elementary school science should know what the food chain is. Fishing is all about using it to your advantage. Now how to use it to your advantage for catfish takes a little more simple education.
There are three main species of catfish that anglers typically target. The channel catfish is probably the most common and can get up to 60lbs. The blue catfish is the largest and can grow up to about 150lbs! The second largest and my personal favorite is the flathead catfish that can reach up to 120lbs. All three are very similar, but very different.
Blues and channels are opportunistic feeders. They will feed on just about anything until they reach a size where scavenging and small live baits will not sustain them anymore. That's when they turn to large cut baits and large live baits.
Flatheads are the silent predators. The feed strictly on live baits their whole lives. On occasion they can be caught on other types of baits, but that depends on season and natural food ability. Early spring and late winter they will eat cut baits.
With that said live baits and large pieces of cut baits are the key to big cats. Many bait shops I've been to don't really carry live bait that's usually native to the area. From my experience, these fish are more likely to eat a bluegill from the same body of water than a goldfish bought at the bait shop. Plus live bait can cost a pretty penny and worms are cheap! Go out and get back to your roots of fishing. Most likely you started out as a kid fishing for panfish and now you can get your kids hooked on the sport while getting bait in the process! 2 birds, 1stone.
A general rule that I follow is: bigger baits = bigger fish. I typically use hand size bream, but any will do. Even smaller catfish like bullhead are great. Small carp make great live bait and cut bait too.
**REMEMBER TO CHECK LOCAL REGULATIONS TO MAKE SURE IT'S LEGAL TO DO THIS IN YOUR AREA**
The perfect size bait
The perfect size bluegill or other live bait for BIG catfish is like the on in this picture. Hand sized bluegill will work for all three species of catfish and catch a variety of other types of fish as well. I've even caught smaller channel cats of big baits.
Let The Magic Happen!
Now take what I've told you and put it to use. Be sure to tell people you know how to turn your favorite panfish bait into a giant catfish with "magic"!
Be safe and have fun!
What to expect when using live bait
Just because you put the big bream on your hook, don't think that you'll catch a big cat right away. Big cat's are very picky and cautious. They don't get big by being stupid. Depending on your location, you best best is to target flathead catfish. Even then you can go days and nights without a bite. Fishing for catfish is truly a test of patience. It will pay off eventually. The key's lie in bait placement, time of year, and location. If your area just doesn't produce large catfish then you might be out of luck. but I believe there's a big one in every body of water. He just happens to be the smartest fish there. There are two good ways to locate the hot spots. 1. If you live in an area that water levels are controlled, like here where I live, get out and explore the banks and bottoms for holes and structure so when the water rises you can have a good Idea where to start. 2. Try using a large slip bobber or any bobber really and just drift your bait down banks where the water has cut into it, around structure like fallen trees or even roots coming from the banks. Big cats love log jams so try locating them as well. This technique is really good when catfish just aren't biting too well and when they "hole" up during cold water periods. Find that spot and I'll bet there is more than likely a few more there.
Some live bait goodies
Bite alert lets you know when they're biting! Never miss them!
Circle hooks let the fish set the hook for you!