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Massive ice out feeding spree?


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Down in Iowa (I'm an Iowegian, but don't hold that against me), the DNR has documented that catfish in bodies of water with shad go on a massive feeding spree in the days and weeks immediately following ice out. The In-Fisherman catfish book mentions this phenomenon also. The shad are prone to winterkill, so every ice out dead shad stack up on the windblown sides of lakes and backwaters. The channel cats move into these areas and feed like starved pigs. I've heard of accounts of people catching 20+ cats an hour in 40 degree water. Does this pattern exist in MN, and if so, has anyone hit it?


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Yes, it does, but being that there are not shad in our lakes, that puts a damper on it.

I have had very good luck in March when water temps can't be over 40 on the Mississippi. When you find the fish, there are generally a lot there. Finding them is hit or miss, though. I would think the dead shad would be more concentrated in a lake than a river, though. If you could find an area in the river that tends to concentrate dead shad, I have no doubt the channel cats would be nearby.

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I have not yet experienced a shad die off yet, but in the Mississippi north area the channels are more then happy to eat like mad when it hits the 40deg…

I have found that the fish up this way are more likely to feast on a small pike/sucker minnow (live) or a bawl of crawlers when the river warms just above 40deg… With my fishing partner and I, we have been in and around the 20 fish an hour area. I would not say monsters, but a fish is a fish.

Last spring on the MN River, we only had success for channels in these water temps with a ball of crawlers, but that could just have been what they where after that day.

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I have experienced this in the past.

I think this year will be different. In

early Feb the ice thawed. I can't be sure

how much of the winter killed shad were

released from ice but I imagine it

was substantial.

The water has again frozen. I figure there

will be little or no winter killed shad

released from the new ice and the bite will

be greatly reduced.

On the good side the channel cats will have

to find something else to eat. They will not

be concentrated in lakes but should be hungry.

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Last fall on some backwater lakes of the Minnesota I saw huge schools of shad close to shore, I was even able to snag a few with a jig just to see the size of them. They were all 4" of larger. With the amount of ice and early snow cover I would anticipate a substantal winter kill on some of the shallower backwater areas.

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Well catters down in Iowa are slaughtering them right now. They are fishing on the windblown shallows of lakes and catching dozens of channels per trip. The cats are hitting cutbait in 4 to 6 feet of water. I'm definitely going to try this pattern out on an area lake in a few weeks

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