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Keith_MN

Channel Cats in the Mississippi

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Keith_MN

I was fishing the Mississippi a couple weeks ago with the very guy who first intoduced me to the river about 8 years ago. We caught a couple 2 - 3 lb catfish and got onto the topic of how frequently we catch catfish while fishing smallies. Anyway, my friend, who has been fishing the river most of his 44 years, said that years ago you rarely if ever caught a catfish. He says that channel catfish were intentionally intoduced to the upper Mississippi in the last 10 years. Can anyone confirm this? I had just assumed that they were always in the river, but I did notice the explosion of cats about 3 summers ago.

PS I caught two catfish in the 23" - 24" range on Sunday within 10 minutes of one another. They probably went 8 lbs or so. Those were the two best fighting fish I have caught all summer. They don't quite compare to Red River cats up by Winnipeg, but give 'em a couple years...... smile.gif

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smallie_hawgin

Kieth,

In this area, they were stocked in the HS chain in the seventies and into the eighties and in a few lakes associated with the Crow about the same time frame. They were not found above St. Anthony Falls before that time.

Channels, like smallmouth have better recruitment on years when water levels and discharge are lower than normal during spawning time (Mid summer in the case of channel cat). What you are seeing is a few good year classes that have prevailed from the late nineties and even from a few years ago (2002). The channels up here grow verrrry slowly. Fish 29 inches are in the neighborhood of 18 yrs old!! Either way they are a blast to catch and will likely not ever overwhelm the fishery. There is way too much variability in habitat, flow conditions, and food availability to have consistent recruitment and growth to have any one species (aside from smallmouth) to really dominate the fishery. Keep in mind the largest portion of the biomass in rivers is made up of native redhorse, suckers, minnows buffalo, etc. Hope this helps. grin.gif

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Keith_MN

Smallie Hawgin,

Thanks for the background.

I go fishing on the river primarily to catch smallmouth, but one of the aspects of fishing the river that I realy enjoy is the number of species of fish that one can catch in a single day. You just never know for sure what's on the end of your line until you see the fish.

I've fished the big channel cats up on the Red River where it dumps into lake Winnipeg. But I haven't been up there in a few years and I had forgotten how much of a fight a big catfish can put up until I hooked into these two on Sunday.

Thanks again.

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catman71

Does anyone ever get North of Sartell or North or Blanchard dam for cats? What to look for? I have got a few, and they run pretty nice size but I could use some help to increase the action.

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Rivernut

Catman, I do know that there are nice cats to be had all the way up pastLittle Falls. So, I must assume that they are at least as far up as Brainerd. I have caught some nice cats up to 12.5 lbs. between St.Cloud & Clearwater. The bigger cats I've caught over the years have been in or very near serious current. Hope this helps.

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Keith_MN

Catman71,

I'm no expert on Catfish fishing. As I stated earlier I generally catch the cats by accident when fishing for smallies. I do tend to catch them in serious current (as Rivernut also indicated). For example if I'm fishing a current break for the smallies and then throw my line out further into the current, that's when I am more apt to catch a cat.

However, just to prove that there are exceptions to every rule, the two nice cats I caught on Sunday both came out of slower current, next to shore, in the shade, by some trees that had fallen in the river, on leeches no less.

Good luck.

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catman71

thanks guys. i catch a lot of cats on the Chain by logs or trees but they are no where as big as what i get out on the mississippi. When you are fishing the current, are you deep or shallow? My best spots seem to be mid river humps in the resevoir north of Blanchard in about 25 feet. The river between Sartell and Rice is closer to home but I have a harder time finding them.

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Rivernut

Keith is right. There are exceptions to every rule. I have caught some nice cats in shallow,shoreline areas. I like the areas at the end of fast water where it transitions into a deeper hole or run. I like the tale end of fast water. But, like, Keith saia there are exceptions. Try every part of the fast water. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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polarsusd81

Any of you guys ever get the cats on artificial lures? When I fish down south, way south, in Arkansas, I hook into a lot of cats while bassin with minnow baits like rapalas and also while fishing Rattle Traps. I absolutely love fishing cats. The fight they put up is second to none pound for pound. They are very strong fish, one of the best fights I ever had was a 9 lb cat on my ultra-light with 2 lb. test, good 15 minute fight out of that one. It sounds like I am gonna have to make it up that way.

Tom

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Aquaman01

My first big CC was on the Upper Missy, and it was the cat that hooked me! She was black and belly-big and gave me a workout unlike any other fish I'd caught before. I think she ran around 10-12lbs or so and 28". I upgraded my rod/reel the next paycheck!

It's my understanding, as well, that CC's were an introduced species this far north. I dunno if it was intentional, or if it was the result of the channelization, or both. Either way, the only catfish species listed as native up this far are bullhead.

I've noticed distribution as far north as Little Falls - both sides of the dam - and that's as far up as I've fished with any regularity.

I've also noticed that our CC's up here get black (reach maturity?) smaller than on the Metro stretches, and they prefer faster water than their 'city cousins'.

As for artificials, I've caught 'em on walleye-type jig/grub combos. Otherwise, it's always a crawler or cutbait.

In previous posts I've compared the CC to a heavy-weight boxer; they don't dazzle you with fancy footwork or acrobatics but instead getcha with body-blows and unexpected haymakers!

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Rivernut

I have also caught them on both sides of the dam. My understanding is that thay were intentionally introduced into the river. That's just what i was told once by Dan Gapen several years ago.

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Keith_MN

polarusd81,

On the stretch of the Mississippi that I fish I do not recall ever catching a catfish on an artificial lure. However, until about 5 years ago I made an annual trip up to Winnipeg each fall to fish for walleye in the Red River, and inevitably someone in the group would catch a big cat (ie 20+ lbs) on a crankbait. But even up there the preferred method of catching catfish is cut-bait.

The very first time I ever fished for big catfish was up on the Red River by Winnipeg. The water was so high and fast that year that our resort host suggested that we try catfish fishing because the walleyes were not in a biting mood. All we had with was our walleye gear. You can well imagine how much fun we had catching 20+ lb catfish on our walleye rods and reels in very fast current. Good times in deed.

Man.....I really need to make another trip up there sometime soon.

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