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Cat Tip of the Day: Preparing for High Water

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I posted this idea last year but I thought this might be a good time to share the idea again with the current low water situation being an excellent opportunity to put this tip to work. The trouble we have during high water is getting a good picture in our mind of what the catfish holding structure looks like in any given spot. Most of our good spots are drowned out and there seems to be too much current streaming through our best spots. What I have found is the fish are still there but they are relating to structure we probably have not given much thought to before. I've tried to photo catalog my catfish spots during low water so that when I have high to moderate water during the prespawn period I have a good idea of what the structure looks like when it is covered by high, dirty water. I got the idea after watching golf one weekend on TV. I was watching Tiger Woods prepare for a difficult shot from out of the rough and his caddy pulls this small book out of his back pocket and it is a diagram of the hole with distances to the green and specific obstacles to avoid. I thought to myself that would be a good technique for my catfish spots. During the low water period last summer I went out scouting with my digital camera and took digital photos of my preferred high water spots paying attention to well anchored logjams and root wads that were high and dry at that time but should be covered during high water. Now when I approach those spots I pull out my cat fishing spot photo album and think through how I want to fish that spot. I try to think like a hungry prespawn catfish and picture in my mind how he would set up on that spot. Right now the St Croix River is at 675.6' which is normal elevation and perfect for low water scouting. The Minnesota River and Mississippi River are as low as you will ever find them and now would be a good time to catalog all your best spots. You would be amazed at how much this helps you read the water during high to moderate water elevation. To give you an idea attached is a picture of one spot - picture this under 6' of water.


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That’s a great tip no matter the level Steve. This is especially true on the MN where the level can change go from a trickle to flood stage in a couple of weeks. Rest assured that it will be always be higher than the current level at some point in the year.

I try to keep a mental catalog and it helps being out there every night, but even then it is very tough to remember specific snags, rocks etc.

It’s is just amazing too how a slight change in the water level will turn on and off different spots. I know 2 particular spots that we probably pulled close to 100 fish out of last spring, and this year, maybe 20 at the most.

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yea when its low I pay speacail attention to certain features of sand bars and am always thinking that if the water goes up that would be perfect spots and so on great tip Steve

I do have to say there is a couple words that I never thought I'd hear associated with catfishing thou Tiger Woods laugh

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Your point is very valid on the lack of habitat in much of southern MN as it is in much of the old zone 4 area. Each area of the state has a different "hole in the bucket". While that area lacks habitat, many other areas, including mine, have plenty of habitat, but lack high quality food to get the herd thru hard winters.
    • Leech,  I think many areas in WI have herds that have declined just as much as MN. I hunt SE of Turtle Lake, and used to see 25+ deer on opening morning before 9am on a regular basis. Now I feel good if I see a few critters the whole weekend. The many years of "T" seasons, "Herd control, and liberal antlerless tags have  dropped numbers in that area to a fraction of what they once were. It is what it is. I don't think they are doing better than MN is, but they started with a lot larger herd.  Their wolf issues will continue in the north, and CWD in the south. I don't envy their situation either.   FYI,  My land sits on the south end of the wolf range in NE Wadena county, MN. They generally do not bother my area except in the spring during calving season, although I have two of the buggers wandering around last November during rifle hunting. I usually have way more issues with coyotes and bears taking my fawns than wolves. 
    • I like sustainability as well. We party hunting and while that is a dirty word to many of the solitary hunters it's what we do. We never deplete the deer in our area and it's rare for us to fill even half our tags. Nobody gets more tags than one in our area.  I did actually make a solid proposal- habitat. But nobody took a moment to even touch that one.   I'm not sure if you are familiar with the southern part of the state but here is very little habitat outside of the southeast region. You just can't maintain the numbers to hold the numbers of deer that you need to get to where everyone who wants to harvest a deer can do so.   There was one specific post calling for an end to party hunting.   Habitat, habitat, habitat.   We should be focusing on improving habitat, bringing youth into the lifestyle and providing a positive public image to ensure future generations can enjoy hunting as well.    
    • Big Dave2, Just throwing the no party hunting out there as one possible solution. I certainly do not advocate getting rid of it. There are several other things being thrown around out there that I don't agree with as well.
    •   I would bet some cash there is a ton of lady bugs that wintered in there!
    • Well i wasn't sure if its the glue in the plywood or what. Have they been known to do tge same to a cedar or redwood built house?
    •   Op, ran off to the Sportsman show with my son before posting the map that went with my post.    Satchmo, I didn't think you were saying that Wisconsin was doing anything better.  It's just a lot of folks hold them up as a better state for Deer when there are a lot of factors our DNR has to deal with that they don't.   Good thread. Lot's of close personal feelings being shared.
    •   Improvements for you are not necessarily improvements for everyone.     Who advised you to do that? I didn't hear anyone give out that advice.     No one called you a name at all. Seems like you are being a little dramatic today especially since it is the "meat hunter" label that is really disparaging these days.     So you want changes only where it will benefit your way of hunting?
    •   Ummmmmm, I think you should read your posts and Wanderer's posts again.....      
    • Been a busy morning. Kettle if soup, venny neck roast for deer camp 2018, and Chinese chicken for supper tomorrow. Sure hope the photography passes leech approval.