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Crazy Big Canadian Catfish!!! **video added**


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Well I'm finally settled in here at home and thought I'd put together a trip report.

In a nutshell, more of the same that we have come accustomed to in past years during August. Fish late into the night and sleep in late.

We arrived around 6pm on Friday and were eager to get out and hit the water. There was a catfish contest going on all weekend (more on that later) so there was a little more traffic out on the river than in past years. We had wanted to launch in Selkirk as that is where we were staying, but unfortunately the launch there closes at 10pm and that just wasn't going to work for us. So we ended up launching at a private fee launch near Lockport.

We headed out with our cooler full of frogs and great anticipation. It didn't take long for John to hook into our first fish. Probably all of about 10 minutes. After we netted that fish it was fairly steady action for the next 4 days. Not exactly lights out but with the size these fish get a couple of fish an hour is all you need to keep things interesting. There were definite spurts in which we had fast action and also slow times.

Some times the fish were biting out in 14 feet of water and other times up in 5 or 6 feet. When we found where they were, we would just cast our lines in that area.

We moved around quite a bit... And word on the river was that the bite was slow so we just went with what worked, fish after dark and sleep in late, find some fish here, find some fish there. There was an obvious window from 10pm to Midnight, almost like clockwork. We did catch a couple of fish up by the St Andrews dam one day messing around trying to catch some Goldeye, but we didn't spent much time up there at all. Brian caught a 23lber in about 2 feet of water under a bobber. That was pretty cool. On a side note a couple of other crazy catches was John catching a 10lber on a wimpy 5ft creek chub rod and 4lb test (I still cant believe he boated that thing in the current) and Brian some how lassoing a small goldeye on his big cat rod.

We also had a VERY cool display of Northern Lights one night. That was something we will talk about for a long time.

I could go on and on and on about the amazing fishery up there, I have dozens and dozens of pictures of fish over 20lbs, I'll just share a handful.

Oh yeah about that contest. The chamber of commerce had tagged 3 fish 3 days before we arrived. Contestants then purchase a ticket for $10 and if they caught the one lucky tagged fish (the other 2 were decoys) they would then win $20,000. Imagine our excitement when we had netted one of Johns fish and it had a tag in it!!! As it turns out it was simply a Manitoba fisheries tracking tag and not part of the contest. frown

As I've said in past years I cannot stress enough how much I would recommend anyone who loves to catfish to make this trip once in their life. The pictures do not do these fish justice. They are a class all by themselves and even with 40 and 50 pound flatheads swimming around these areas, I would much rather catch 20-25 channels all night long. It is crazy fun!!

Brian caught our biggest fish of the trip at 28lbs, but we each caught a personal best at 26lbs. For comparison sakes to fish around here all those high end 25lb+ fish measured approx 38-39" long and had a girth around 23-24. We only measured 3 or 4 biggest fish for reference. We did however weigh EVERY single fish. And even with a 3 a 4 and 2 8's we still ended up with an average weight of almost 18lbs. The total catch for the trip was 81 fish and 1392lbs!

We had 26 fish over 20lbs and 3 of those being at least 25lbs.

Ok, I'll quit babbling now and just let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Awesome!!! I've seen some incredible Northern lights up there too- it's pretty remarkable. Looks like the fishing wasn't too shabby either... Great work and excellent jobon the report!

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Well you convinced me. After showing your pics to a buddy of mine he decided that we're heading up there next summer. Neither of us are cat fishermen but that just looks like too much fun! Can't wait to get up there and tangle with some of those beasts!

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You will enjoy it a lot Jeff! Late May to Early June and Late August to Early Sept are probably the 2 best windows to shoot for. We have chose the latter dates mostly because of the probability of better weather and stable river levels. However if you hit it right in the spring it can be 100 fish days. We spoke to a couple that spends a lot of time up there and this spring they caught 700 fish during a 3 week stay.

Not sure how much time you have spent in Canada, but expect to pay about 40% more for everything.

Not many lodging options up there, but we were told that a new hotel was in the works. We stayed at the Selkirk Inn/Conference Centre. It was pretty good. They had decent parking for the boat/trailer, with a well lit lot and rooms available with full size fridge/freezer (important for bait). I would recommend this place to stay. Last year we stayed at Rivercrest and it was marginal at best but still better than Cats on the Red. In fact we heard that COTR wasn’t even renting rooms this year. Their launch was open though and if you want to fish past 10pm it is your only choice. It’s very conveniently located though for $12/day. You can see the dam from the launch.

I would also recommend gear that you would use for Flatheads. Medium channel gear will get it done, but undersized in my opinion.

Im going to put a video together tonight of some of the fish we caught. I haven't watched any of the footage, but I know we got that 28lber coming I'm the boat!

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We tried to reserve a place in May back in 2009, but we ended up cancelling due to a terrible bite on super-high water. Spring floods can do that. The 3 times we went up in late august we've seen widely varying water levels, but it has been fishable and we've caught fish every time.

Most of the locals up there fish during the day. The last 2 years we've been out we have been the last trailer in the lot pretty much every evening. By 11 pm we usually have the river to ourselves. But, it has paid off in that I think if we were fishing daylight hours exclusively, we would have probably gotten so few fish that we'd not be going back each year.

We didn't track it officially or anything by marking down the time of each fish, but time breakdown was roughly the following (from memory_:

Total hours fished:

Day 1: 6 pm to 230 am,

Day 2: 3 pm to 200 am,

Day 3: 4 pm to 200 am,

Day 4: 5 pm to 100 am.

Breakdown by hours wasn't tracked officially or anything, but a rough estimate based on my memory would be something like this:

Fish each time period:

4 pm to 6 pm: ~5 fish (6 hours) -- 1 fish per hour

6 pm to 8 pm: ~15 fish (8 hours) -- 2 fish per hour

8 pm to 12 pm: ~45 fish (16 hours) -- 3 fish per hour

12 pm to 2 am: ~15 fish (7.5 hours) -- 2 fish per hour

This is pretty much what you'd expect if you've ever fished for cats -- the dusk window outperformed the windows next to it by almost a 2:1 ratio (sunset was roughly 8:40 and it didn't get completely dark until 9:30 or so). However, I think if you get up there in a good spring, you can catch so many during broad daylight that you have no incentive whatsoever to fish at night (unless you just want to avoid boat traffic).

Morning bites have been decent to us in the past but the window is much shorter -- tapering down to daytime slowness by 10 a.m. or so. As such, we prefer to just fish late at night and sleep in during the day. When you fish til 2, by the time you get loaded back up, drive to the hotel, unload gear, clean up a bit, and unwind a little, it's almost 4 a.m. -- so sleeping in feels very good. This is also where the convenience of parking right outside the room comes in handy.

Selkirk Inn is not a super fancy place -- and it's probably overpriced when you compare it to some of the fancier places as far as amenities. But, convenience trumps quite a bit of that stuff, when you're there to fish. An option to consider if the selkirk inn isn't your bag would be the casino hotel up on hwy 59, where apparently you can get 2 beds and a decent room plus probably a meal included for like 59 bucks a night. Of course now you're trudging further with your stuff when you load and unload, and you probably don't get a real freezer for your bait, and you are located maybe 15 minutes further from the boat launch. So...it's all about the trade-offs.

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Thanks for the tips guys. Lodging can make or break a trip, I'll have to come back to this post next year. The biggest thing I've been wondering is where do you get that many frogs?! On a good day hookup ratio for me is maybe 3/4 so if you catch 75 fish (for easy math) you're using 100 frogs! Are you catching em here for weeks and bringing em up or do you catch/buy them up there? I thought there was regs against bringing amphibians across borders but I'm not sure. Obviously you're using some gold eyes for bait but it sounds like hoppers are the go-to bait.

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And aanderud, thanks for posting those hrs as well. Kinda nice to know when to make sure ya got fresh bait on!

As far as equipment we both are pretty avid sturgeon nuts so we were just gonna use that stuff. My biggest concern though is being that we're both new to cat fishing, are we still gonna be able to get fish? I imagine it's as simple as finding current breaks but I always seem to struggle going after new fish species since tactics & spots vary so much by species

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Here's a funny story about wondering if you possess the right "skillz" to catch em.

We were set up on our favorite spot the third or fourth night and a boat came an anchored just up from us in the middle of the channel. No structure, no hole, not much at all really. It was a guy and a gal (you see that a lot up there). Within minutes, the gal was hooked up with a big kitty. She fought it on undersized gear and they managed to land it with a k-mart special panfish sized landing net that was pretty much folded over after the event. They cheered, we cheered, it was pretty cool.

Seriously, it's a matter a launching your boat and wetting a line. I would compare it greatly to the spring sturgeon run on the Rainy. Not much skill required at all.

As for the frogs, we bought them from a fellow catman who was out collecting them for his own trip. He ended up with a bunch of them and we bought 250 from him. They were vacuum packed and frozen. The border agent nearly took them from us this year, but we convinced him that there was no water being transported or live disease or anything.

You mileage may vary with each border agent. wink

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If you can find frogs up there, you're golden. That being said, I wouldn't count on finding any when you're there.

If your frogs are live, they will get taken -- I can almost guarantee this. Every time we pass through they ask if we have any LIVE bait, to which I respond "no" and then when they ask what we DO have I say "dead frogs". This hasn't been an issue, but as Dtro said they almost took them this year because they were worried about the water. He said "well, unfortunately those aren't allowed either because of the water they're frozen in". I said they were vacuum packed and frozen dry, and he said "ok you'll be OK then". We said "good because we have quite a bit of dough wrapped up in them" and he gave us the line we already know -- "you're always better off getting your bait up here, then there will never be any issues".

So, lesson learned -- they really seem concerned about water or even ice. They also obviously are always concerned about live bait. But dead frogs they've been pretty lenient with.

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would you say that the majority of fish were taken on frogs or did you mix in cut bait like goldeye a bunch as well? I used to live in the fargo area and fished the red all the time and had some very good august outings on cutbait, sometimes out performing frogs. As a general rule tho the frogs are more of a sure thing. Simply curious for reference sake and will be fishing the fm area this weekend and the following while spending some time back home.

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We tried cutbait every day, and we occasionally got a fish on it, but the rod(s) with frogs out always seemed to outfish it -- so eventually it would get yanked and sent back to the bench in favor of having another frog out on that rod.

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Nice video, last time I was up there was 10 yrs ago. Glad to see it is still the place to go for for big channels. We also found you could catch two or three cats on one frog. I fished the Red in July with frogs but the best fishing was the first or second week of June. The goldeyes apparently spawn in June and are easy to catch. At that time you were allowed to catch 10 goldeyes a day to use for cat bait. One year we caught 400 cats in 4 days on cut-bait. When the water is high fish in front of the spillway or close to the banks in the main channel. Those big cats put on quite the fight in the current. We've also caught some big sheepshead in June. grin

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Bump To The Top!!!

Been two years since we have trekked to Lockport. Last year just got crazy busy doing other things and didn't make it up. Leaving in 5 hours to wet some lines up there again. Here's hoping for a good trip, as my 6 year old is coming with for the first time ever. The last 3 times I've been there he was 1, 3, and 4. Now that he's gotten a bit older I figure he can handle both the size of the fish and the fact that you don't always put them in the boat as fast as spawning crappies on Waconia. smile

Will post a report when we get back. Or maybe I'll be lazy and let Darren do it. :-)

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This year's trip to Selkirk (Lockport) was the best fishing trip I've ever been on, and not just because we caught a ton of big fish. Getting to spend the long weekend with my son in Canada for the first time was priceless. Pretty proud of my little 6 year old for hanging tough with the big boys.

Thanks, Darren and Dave, for having such a good time and putting up with us for the 5 days. I'll go back with you guys any time. Adam said when I put him to bed -- "You want to know a fact about Dave W? Dave W is a funny guy". smile He wants to go back. Said the 4 days was the best 4 days of his life. LOL.

He was a trooper and he caught 49 of our 165 fish all by himself (885 lbs for that little guy, with over 18 pounds per fish average). He did everything other than casting the line out, including reeling the fish in, putting in the fish grips and helping throw them back in (plus some posing smile ). What a riot. LOL.

Here's just a few pics that I took. Plenty more on Darren's cam.





Super proud of the little dude. Sitting out on the boat with us for 7 hours (after a 10 hour drive and checkin and grocery run) the first day, then 12 hours, 11 hours, and 10 hours the big 3 days. He was up til 1-2 in the morning 4 days in a row, refusing to take any naps or even "rest" in the boat. He FINALLY took a 30 minute nap on the way home smile


We are going back next year!

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