Catching Catfish In June
By Ronnie Garrison,
June is a great month for fishing for catfish. For years, until I learned to fillet bass, my wife and I fished for bass during the day for fun and ran hooks at night for catfish to eat. Although quite tiring fishing day and night, it was a lot of fun.
Last week, I mentioned the biggest cat we ever caught, a 12 pounder that ate a big worm fished below a quart Clorox bottle. We did not fish a lot of jugs because they are so hard to keep up with on a big lake. The least little breeze will blow them all over the lake and make them hard to find. They are also easy for other fishermen to spot and get the fish, if you aren't up early enough.
When we did run jugs, we put them out way up a creek or in the back of a cove. I tried to check them several times each night and made sure I was on the water at first light to see if any had fish on them. We used all kinds of bait but small bream seemed best. I also found that putting some water in the jug or using a fairly big weight on the line helped keep the jug in the area where it was put out. We even used old spark plugs as weights to keep them from blowing away.
We ran a lot of trot lines at night for catfish. Tied across small coves or down the bank on bigger areas, most of mine had 25 to 50 hooks. It was always a thrill to grab the line and feel the pull of a strong fish somewhere out on a hook. They were a lot of trouble to take up every Sunday and put back out on Friday night but it was the best way to get a lot of hooks in the water quickly. If a school of cats came through the area, you could catch several on the multiple hooks.
An uncle told me trot lines were called that because you had to trot out and check them all night. They might also be called trout lines relating them to a type of fish but I like the first idea better!
My favorite way to fish at night was bank hooks, a single line and hook tied to a limb or bush hanging over the water. They took more time to put out and bait up, but could be checked quickly and I seemed to catch more fish on them. I liked to tie them so the hook was only a couple of inches below the surface of the water and then bait up with a lively bream. It would splash around a lot and draw catfish like a magnet. These bank hooks were also easy to take out of the water until the next weekend.
When we caught a fish from a particular limb or in a cove, we kept fishing it. Cats are just like bass, they like to use the same spots over and over. I never understood exactly why one bush on a section of bank would have cats around it at night and others that seemed the same would never be productive, but I learned to concentrate on those productive ones.
To get the bream for bait, Linda and I would pull a seine down the bank right after dark. That was quite a thrill also, with bream jumping in your face and feeling things bump into the net. For some reason, Linda always took the shallow end and I was often up to my neck in water trying to pull the deep end of the net. It usually took only a couple of pulls to get enough two inch bream to bait up all night.
I made a fish basket out of hardware cloth to make catching bream easier. I would bait it up with bread or dog food and put it under our dock. It would have a few to a few dozen bream in it when I checked. These were put in the live well of the boat and the basket kept in the water until enough were caught for bait. It was a lot easier than pulling a seine, but not as much fun.
An even better bait for catfish was small shad. When I was running hooks, cast nets were not legal, so they were almost impossible to catch. The one time I got a bunch was when a school spawned down the bank near our trailer and the wind and waves washed them up in the grass. I picked up almost a hundred that morning and put them on ice. I had fantastic luck that night, catching more cats than ever before in one night.
If you put out hooks, be sure to take them out of the water when you leave. They will keep catching fish as long as they smell like the bait and the fish on them usually will die and go to waste. Take them up and use them again later. Its a fun way to catch some good eating catfish.