Posts Tagged ‘catfish’
Fishing Creek Mouths

Creek mouths are some of the most productive places in the river to fish — if you understand what they are, and how they appear to the fish. Here are three thoughts to keep in mind.

  1. Water flows from the creek into the river. Since in can’t flow upstream the current will break towards the downstream side. If you’re looking for feeding fish keep this in mind. Almost nothing swims upstream if it can help it, especially small baitfish and the like. Fish with the current, not against it.
  2. As the water breaks downstream it slows. That means it drops sediment, brush and other things that make cover under the water. This cover producing material will be deposited in a crescent shape outside the creek mouth almost directly in line with the creek channel. This makes a great ambush point for predators — bass and flatheads. You’ll lose a lot of baits and terminal tackle fishing that mess but it’s well-worth it if you’re serious about catching fish.
  3. The action that’s been described above also digs out a deep hole — I know of two that are over 50 feet deep — in front of the crescent. It makes for a great resting place for bigger fish, especially giant catfish. Fishing in these deep holes is one of the secrets of trophy flathead and blue hunters. Use heavy weights to get down that deep and heavy tackle to pull big fish up from their dens. For whatever reason these holes seem to be more productive at night.

Think about all this as you motor into a creek and spend time following it back. Maybe the best fishing is over your shoulder.

Catfish Facts


Flatheads are by far the most exotic and perhaps the most popular species in the Ohio River. Flatheads can reach weights in excess of 100 pounds. Typical color ranges from brown to green with a white belly. They tend to develop lighter colors in clearer water and darker colors in darker waters.

For the most part they prefer stained to muddy water. They’re most active at 75 degrees although they will tolerate extremes at both ends of the temperature scale. Flatheads have been caught in water as cold as 32 degrees and as warm as 100 degrees.

Flatheads are predators — they are not scavengers — and as such are structure and current oriented. They follow the usual rules about water movement. They tend to move shallow in rising water, hold on structure in stable water and move out deeper with falling water. Preferred depth ranges are anywhere from 15 feet to 80 feet depending upon conditions.

Current will spread them out. A lack of current tightens them up into schools. Their favored forage is shad, shiners, bluegills, skipjacks and crayfish. They have been known to eat ducks, mice, frogs and snakes upon occasion.

Average size, in the middle sections of the Ohio River, is in the 20 pound range. Big fish hit the 35 pound mark with 50 pounders and above becoming more common over the past few years.


Channel cats are somewhat smaller than flatheads and are known to eat almost anything. They have more taste sensing organs than flatheads and blues, although blues aren’t very far behind. They feed almost entirely by smell and taste.

Stink baits are popular with channel cat anglers although they mostly account for smaller fish. Trophies are almost always caught with cut bait or live bait. Channel cats are less structure oriented than flatheads. They often roam to follow the forage.

Eight pounds is a good Ohio River fish. Anything over 10 or 12 pounds is something to write home about.


Blue cats are the monsters of the river. Who can forget the old-time pictures of 100 pound plus blues being held up by local fisherman when the dams were being built? (Some writers claim they reached 200 pounds plus just before and during the Great Depression. That seems unlikely, but who knows for sure?)

Blues favor much clearer water than the flatheads but feed generally on the same forage. They’re generally found on clean sandy bottoms, over rock and gravel areas or along hard substrate. They’re especially fond of areas with humps or underwater rises. Blues are native river fish. They prefer moving water.

Driven nearly to extinction in our recent past they are now on the rebound and are caught with regularity. In the Cincinnati area they average around 10-15 pounds but downstream they increase in size dramatically. Each year there’ll be several caught that weigh between 60 and 85 pounds. Several over 100 pounds have been caught and weighed on certified scales over the years.

3 Quick and Inexpensive Catfish Rigs

Three Way Rig

Start with a three-way swivel. Tie the line from your reel to one of the rings. Tie a short piece of line with a sinker attached to another ring. Tie another length of line with a hook on it to the third.

Adjust the length of your lines according to conditions and experience. Lengthening the line from the weight to the swivel will raise the bait further off the bottom; lengthening the line from the swivel to the bait will allow more freedom of movement and let your bait move naturally in the current.

Slip Sinker

Bass fisherman will recognize this as a Carolina Rig. Slip a barrel sinker on your line and then add a bead or two. Tie the end to one ring of a barrel swivel. Tie your leader and hook to the ring on the other end of the swivel. Adjust the length of the leader running down to your bait to the prevailing conditions.

Bait Walker/Bottom Bouncer Rig

This is commonly known as a Lindy Rig. It consists of an L-shaped wire with your weight on one end and a ring on the other. A wire extends down below the weight to permit your rig to “walk” along the bottom.

Tie your line from your reel to the right angle bend (elbow) in the wire.  Tie your hook to the ring with a leader. With most models you can adjust the length of the wire from the sinker so as to adjust the height of the bait above the bottom. This rig is especially useful over rough or snag infested bottoms.