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waxworm

Cats on the Chain

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waxworm

First season ice fishing in the area, wondering if anyone has a way of catching the channels on Horseshoe that that wanna share? Like what size hook, circle hooks? is a light or medium rod ok? line test? Any info would be appreciated.

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hanson

For cats on the chain, think walleye fishing. Techniques and equipment are pretty similar. One thing that may be a little different is the channel cats suspend for the most part. So maybe its a cross between walleye fishing & crappie fishing. Oh boy... I'm getting all confused now!

OK, I got that out of my system...

What I like to use is my absolute favorite, fish for anything rod, and that is a Thorne Bros. Perch Sweetheart. The action is absolutely perfect for working 1/8oz jigging spoons and that is primarily what I use for the chain cats.

Some lures that have worked very well are the Scenic Tackle Go-Devil, JB Lures Varmint, CJ&S Demon Jigging Spoon, etc. Spoons of that shape work really well. Last winter, glow red was definitely the ticket! I'll then tip the jigging spoon with the head of a minnow. You don't want to jig violently but rather "shake" the lure in front of the fish. You want that minnow head on the hook to just be kicking a little bit. Then when you feel a bump or can't feel your lure, set the hook! Channels are notoriously light biters in the winter and it can be hard to detect bites at times.

The other way I like to fish the cats is with a plain hook and small fillet of sucker minnow or golden shiner. Small meaning about a 1"x1" chunk of the minnow. I then fish this with a split shot about 8" up the line, and a Today's Tackle Ice Buster bobber that I trim down so the top floats level with the surface of the water. A lot of the time, the cats will only take the bait down 1/4" or so. Remember... light biting, finesse, etc.

A flasher is an absolute must for fishing cats. They suspend a lot like crappies and can be found 1' off the bottom up to 15' or more off of the bottom. If you aren't fishing where the cats are at, you won't catch them. Simple as that.

As for locations to fish, thats where I'm going to be more tight lipped. The "meth" hole is the community spot and generally produces consistent cat action. Watch the forums for the Cool Cats gathering that will happen in March I believe. Give you a chance to hook up with us cat guys.

I will say 1 thing about the H-chain. Be very, very careful of ice conditions all over the lake, but especially in the river sections where the current keeps the ice thin, or even open for parts of the winter. A truck went down last winter when a group of us were up there fishing. He should have never been driving in that area and someone new to the chain would have not known better.

Oh yeah, do they ever fight!

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waxworm

Thanks a lot Hanson, i'm looking forward to pulling up my first cold channel this season. Now I know fishin' these things down on the Minnesota and Blue Earth a circle hook is the best ticket cuz of their soft mouths, is it that they bite so light in the winter that it makes this technique obsolete?

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hanson

To be honest, I've never tried circles through the ice for the chain cats. I don't see why it wouldn't work on a bobber rod. Just use that steady pull to set the hook when the bobber is going down.

One thing that you will notice however is the number of cats you'll catch that are "barely" hooked, sometimes even whisker hooked. They'll just be hooked be a piece of skin. This might be where a circle could cause you to lose a few fish. They really aren't inhaling the bait and taking off with it. They peck at it and sit there for the most part.

You tie into any big flatties fishing down near 'Kato?

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The Chemist

You're in for a load of fun. I've been fishing cats for the past 8 yrs and tend not to fish for anything else. I got tired of people parking next to and setting up on my permanent shack. Although the popularity of fishing cats has gained alot in the past 4-5 yrs thanks to many people here. (Check out the Cool Cats gathering this winter) My best advice would be to get vertical jigging lures- Red has typically been the favored color. They bite rather light most of the time but the fight is hardly ever easy. Jig should glow. And then typical bait for tipping the treble, half minnows, chicken parts... whatever. I am sooo ready for this season as my life has taken a huge change this past week and now I will have every other weekend to get out and then some. So now I got to get the 4-wheeler goin' and hopefully I will have a truck to replace the dustbuster.

BTW: We have a cabin in the area so I am going to try to get up there alot more this year, so let me know if you want to try to tie into a few kitties.

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waxworm

Haha I guess I'm relatively unlucky when it comes to flatheads, biggest I ever brought in was 32 inches. Been lucky enough to assist in the landing of more than a few hogs and a couple 25+ pound channels though, and it's close to the same thing cool.gif just picked up the fish trap guide today, it's still hard for me to picture a channel coming through the ice. Really looking forward to it and thanks for your posts they've been real helpful. Only method i've ever known for cats is fishin' a 2 ounce weight with a circle hook and a half a sucker, so thanks for savin' me the trouble this winter grin.gif

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Borch

Some guys also have good luck with cut bait on a treble using a deadstick set up. Even then it's usually a pretty light bite.

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hanson

If you weren't excited enough for ice, this might put you over the edge!

This one weighed 10lbs. Thats my biggest through the ice. Most are in that 3-4 lb range.

hansonicecatqf7.jpg

Video should get a guy going as well!

This was a video Matt Johnson did last winter on the chain!

Catfish on Ice

Clicking on the link should link you to the video through Matt Johnson's website.

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waxworm

that video was just what I needed to go and drop some ice cubes in the water to speed things up a bit. cool.gif . and how about eating these things? I wouldn't dare eat one out of the Minnesota or Blue Earth, but it seems like these would be ok?

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hanson

Quote:

I wouldn't dare eat one out of the Minnesota or Blue Earth, but it seems like these would be ok?


I've done in many times and am still alive. Haven't noticed any abnormal growths or extra arms yet. I don't think I glow! wink.gif

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