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Here's how to catch a cat

Spotting fish near surface can be key to success

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CHANNEL catfishing north of Lockport continues to be as hot as the weather. Despite a rapidly moving Red River, action has been excellent with many Master Angler catfish landed, especially in the spillway just north of Lockport where the Red River floodway empties into the main river channel. Shore and boat anglers using cut bait fished under bobbers have been having the best success.

Here are some tips that I would like to pass along to those who want to try their hand this summer at catching these fascinating game fish.

Using slip floats for catfish remains a fun and efficient way to catch these incredible fighters -- especially when trying to fish all the boulder piles near the locks at Lockport and in the spillway area. I knew that if I were to drop down a standard catfish rig it was sure to get snagged.

Instead I had brought along a number of extremely large slip floats, the ones sold for dead-baiting pike. Rigging up, I threaded my 30-pound Berkley Big Game Hi-Vis Solar Green line through the top of the bobber, then out the bottom, adding a line weight, then a large coloured bead on the line before tying on my terminal tackle. This bead would act as a buffer between the weight and my knot.

Then I tied on the terminal tackle, using a large swivel, and about a 16-inch snell to a No. 2 hook. On this hook would be threaded a piece of cut bait, either goldeye, sucker or tullibee. After tying on a heavy piece of line in an overhand knot above the float I was ready to go. This would act as my bobber stop.

Setting the stop at about four feet to begin with, I cast upstream, letting the bait drift with the current. Sure enough after about five minutes, the float was violently tugged beneath the surface and the first catfish of the day was on!

Visually spotting surface-feeding catfish can be your secret to success. If you see fish swirling at the surface in the murky water of the Red, it usually means that hungry catfish are forcing baitfish to the surface.

Some anglers believe catfish just feed off the bottom. Being a top-of-the-line predator, they will use all of the water column and all of their senses to track down anything they deem edible.

If you are faced with fishing heavy current flows, look for slack water areas on river bends that create back eddies. Anchor slightly upstream so you can cast your catfish rig into the current edge between fast and slow water.

Catfish will set up on the edge of these flows and at the bottom of the back eddies to eat anything that gets pushed their way. Adjust the weight of your sinkers so your line will stay in one spot. In heavy current also shorten the length of your snell so your bait won't get too high off the bottom. If current is heavy, the catfish will hug the bottom, out of the heaviest current.

Catfish event hits the big time

Combine some of the best channel catfishing in the world with a chance to win $20,000 and what do you have? The Manitoba Catfish Invitational being held August 7 and 8 in Selkirk . Organized by the Selkirk and District Chamber of Commerce, this event promises to attract two-person catfish teams from across North America. Hooked Magazine editor Steven Wintemute believes this event will grow into one the biggest catfish events anywhere. " I have fished the mighty Red River at this time of year and from my experience it might just be the best time to catch Goliath channel catfish," Wintemute says. If you don't believe me check out my catfish video at www.hookedmagazine.ca. entitled Cat Scratch Fever.

Dave Bayluk, who is helping organize the event, says that Selkirk and the surrounding communities are looking forward to welcoming anglers. Hotel rooms and campground sites have been set aside for tournament competitors. All the tournament information is online at www.manitobacatfish.com. Here you will be able to enter, find accommodation and any other information you need to know about the Manitoba Catfish Invitational.

Anglers' notes: The City of Winnipeg has room left in three of its summer camps that involve fishing. The first is the golf/fin camp July 19-23 and the next two are Fris/fin July 26-30 and Aug. 16-20. You can register online at www.winnipeg.ca/cms/recreation/leisureguide

dlamont@mymts.net

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 19, 2010 D11

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