Yesterday I had the pleasure of fishing with Robbie D of Big City Fishing, chasing down spring catfish on a smaller Lake Erie tributary. The fish were not in thick just yet but we had our share of battles with old whisker face. Some regions like the lower Grand River see early runs of catfish right after ice-out, but many of the lesser known and lesser fished waters get significant runs that are just starting heat up. Any creek or river with clay/mud bottoms and a good amount of near shore timber will host decent numbers of these fish.
Catfish fishing in Southern Ontario is an excellent filler between spring trout fishing and early summer bass opener. They are not the most glamorous fish available in the Great Lakes region but they sure will give you all the fight you can handle, and then some! These are not the little brown bullhead or mudcats that you incidentally catch when live bait fishing. These are big angry and very explosive fish when first hooked, and they don't let off until you put the clamps on them.
The average fish is between 7-10lbs but often exceed 15-20lbs. Heavy gear is the order of the day when angling for these beasts. A 9' M/H rod, a 300/3000 series reel or better, spooled with 30lb braid is an adequate set up to tame these big kitties. We use an assortment of cut-bait, dead minnows, shrimp style baits, and anything else with a heavy oily fish smell. Pautzke Nectar is an excellent bait rejuvantor for baits that have been soaking for too long, or to give that added kick. Size 3/0-5/0 hooks work well for hooking these large meaty servings, and we suspend them under a float. Split shot may or may not be necessary depending on the depths fished.
Canoes and kayaks are an excellent stealth approach for getting right on top of these fish where you need to be. Allowing you run your presentation under float with no unnatural movement as you drift down the creek or river.
Watch for the videos and more pics of this adventure coming on Big City Fishing.
So if you are already bored with pike, and panfish aren't your thing, grab your paddling gear and head out for some spring cats to fill the void, or look up Nomad Adventures for your catfish fix!
And be sure to bring extra hooks because the submerged timber rarely gives back!
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