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KTapper

Fishing channel cats in lakes

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I am interested in fishing for some channel cats in some lakes. Would I use the same as I use for river fishing? Also where would I look for channels in a lake?

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That is a good question man...I know they are found in Madison Lake, so I would head over that way. I have never done it personally but I would try using a small chunk of cut sucker on a smaller sized circle hook (3/0-5/0) with a 1 oz weight. I would start at the little channel that connects the lake to that pond and see how that goes. I know there are lots of Bullheads in there as well as Channel Cats.

I would also try crawlers or frogs if cutbait doesn't work well.

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If you look back on some past posts i believe Dtro and others fish for channels up on Horseshoe lake?(i think) in the winter. I think they used a jigging spoon and then tipped it with cutbait and jigged them in....also i believe dtro made a youtube video fishing for them through the ice on the river...so if the above strategy doesn't work try this...also there are some pig channels in Roberds lake and Cannon lake in rice county....not too far of a drive....

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I am interested in fish for some channel cats in some lakes. Would I use the same as I use for river fishing? Also where would I look for channels in a lake?

A good technique to use when fishing lakes or reservoirs is drifting. The last couple of weeks I have been having some success dragging (trolling) cut bait for channel cats which would work for you on a lake. I plan on doing an updated Cat Tip of the Day later on this summer on drifting and dragging for channel cats. Here is a brief synopsis of how I do it taken from a Cat Tip of the day a few years ago:

Drifting is a pretty simple approach to catching cats. You will not find a cheaper or simpler rig than our standard drifting rig: Tie a size 1/0 or so snap swivel on your main line. Tie a 1/0 to 5/0 circle hook on about an 18” to 24” leader and then tie about a size 1/0 barrel swivel to the end of the leader. If the area you are drifting has a lot of snags or debris go to a smaller hooks size (1/0 or so) and it will reduce the number of snags. Hook that barrel swivel on the snap swivel and you are ready to fish. We normally use fresh cut sucker for bait. That is it! Pretty simple. The weight of the cut bait and the two swivels is about all you will need to get your bait in the strike zone. Most people think they need to have a weight or some kind of sinker on their line to get it down to the bottom but before you add weight to your rig give this set up a fair chance – it will surprise you how effective it is.

For bait I like to fillet suckers into strips about 1 ½” to 2” wide and about 4” long or so. Use fresh cut sucker, it seems to leave a good scent trail. Cast that bait out behind the drifting boat feeding line until you will feel your bait ticking along the bottom. I place my rods in rod holders and watch the rod tips – you will see the rod tips jump as the bait ticks along the bottom but watch them because – WHAM! Those channel cats hit like freight trains. Sometimes it pays to hold a rod and get a feel for the bottom and what is going on with your bait. This way you can feel the light biters and will sometimes boat fish you never see with a rod sitting in a holder.

We try to fish the flats along the main channel targeting that first break into deeper water. That is where the bait schools seem to be congregate. Another location we have found is main channel humps with water in the 15 to 20 foot range and bait schools in the vicinity. Find the bait and you will find the catfish. On the St Croix when the shad schools are present you can find them on your electronics, they will key you to catfish.

Try to maintain a drift speed in the .5 mph to .75 mph range. The slower the better is usually a good rule. When I am drifting with the wind I will sometimes use a drift sock to control my speed and direction. Sometimes I will just use the electric trolling motor to run into the wind or use the electric if there is no wind at all. The trolling motor allows you to very accurately control your direction and speed – you are actually trolling more than drifting with this technique.

I use my GPS to mark each fish caught so that I can return to another drift close to that same location. I find the GPS invaluable because you can analyze each drift. I try not to spend any time on empty water already fished plus the GPS allows me to find and repeat the good drift lines.

Don't concern yourself with any special rods, reels and equipment. You don’t need any special equipment. Start out using your normal bass or walleye gear and enjoy the fight from the knuckle busting channels. I use my normal channel cat rods and they are probably overkill for these situations. Medium to medium heavy rods, lines in the 10# to 30# range, a dependable spinning or baitcasting reel with a good, smooth drag. Most fishermen don’t need to run out and buy catfishing rods to fish this technique. I would recommend giving it a try and based on your experiences add equipment to fit your personal taste after you have tried it.

It is just about that time of year when the shad schools start to show up on the St Croix and we start drifting for channels. You will find this technique will work on any lake that has a good channel cat population. Good Luck.

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Here is a simple method,

#1 go to the horseshoe chain

#2 Use what ever you want for hook, line, rod, etc.

#3 Crawler, chub, frog, liver, crayfish, wax worm, bully, all work

#4 cast and wait, if you cast it they will come.

YOu may not catch a giant, but you will catch cats.

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Thanks for the replys! I probably would drive up to the Horseshoe chain until winter. I was also thinking the zumbro resivor has a nice population. I would like to try Cannon or Tetonka.

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I used to fish for channel cats in lakes all the time down in Iowa. The problem is that the pattern I fished may not be applicable in many lakes around here...although I did try it in Gifford Lake in Chaska and nailed a bunch of fat channels. Look for downed trees or any kind of wood cover next to shore. Pitch liver or whatever close by the snags. This pattern works very well if there are waves blowing into the snags and there is a shadow over the snaggy area. Landing a big cat can be a problem though..

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Last weekend when we went to Fox Lake we stoped trolling and tried jigging for some Crappies. Tom M, who was in the front of my boat put on a kast-master with 2 crappie nibblers on the hooks. I started to give him a little greif about using his #1 Flathead catfish bait, because he always talks about how he had caught some Flatheads on Lake Volney with that combo a year or two back. Well within 5 minutes he boated a Channel Cat. Go figure! He now calls them Cat-Masters!

Catfish1.jpg

Just cast it out and drag it back to the boat.

All the Catfish I have caught in lake, I have caught on the bottom under Crappies!

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