Posts Tagged ‘channel cat’
Short Notes

This is a fishing site so most of the articles should be about fishing. That said, however, there comes a time when we need to look beyond ourselves and count our blessings.

The river and her tributaries are beyond bad. There’s no way to even think about fishing them. What little progress was made in a few places earlier this week was wiped out by last night’s rains. And yet, it could be a heck of a lot worse.

If you doubt that — and you’re feeling sorry for yourself because you can’t go fishing in the river — look to the South, specifically Alabama and Mississippi. Much of that state has been destroyed by the tornadoes that swept through earlier this week. They were real tornadoes, too, the kind that leave little or nothing behind.

There are a whole lot of guys down there who aren’t worried because they can’t go fishing this weekend. They’re looking for their houses and, in some cases, for their families.


I was in a local Kroger store the other day and noticed they’re carrying crayfish from the Gulf Region — at very reasonable prices. I also noticed they had a pretty good selection of sauces from around the county ranging from mild to extra hot. For those of you who are fans of the little critters that’s about as good as it gets.

Impress your friends. Serve boiled crayfish this weekend with a unique sauce of some sort.

Note: Cajun sauce isn’t the same as hot sauce. Cajun is spicy; hot is hot.


Don’t forget about the farm ponds. They’re on fire. Several guys have reported nonstop action in the shallows. They’re catching bass, channel cats and bluegill. Don’t let the bad weather get you down. Talk nice to your local farmer. Most likely he’ll let you fish.

Throw topwater plugs or plastics for the bass, stinkbaits for the channel cats and worms for the bluegill. Saturday looks like the best day. Pack a sandwich or two, a bag of chips and a couple of sodas. And don’t forget to take the kids.

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.

73 Pound Blue Cat Caught Saturday

For those of you who think it’s too early to be fishing the river, or who think it’s too cold and muddy, you’d better think again. The other guys are catching your fish. According to press reports released by KingKat, Rob Benningfield (Bowling Green) and Ed Moore (Louisville) landed a 73.65 pound blue catfish while fishing in 25-30 feet of water just west of Louisville. They reported using skipjack for bait.

As big as that fish was, however, it isn’t all that unusual. The Ohio River is considered one of the better catfish fisheries in the country. Blues and flatheads over 40 pounds are common, with channels up to 10 pounds routine.

For the most part all three species can be found in the Meldahl and Markland Pools. Typically they’re found near baitfish, along drops and channel swings as well as in or near current. The biggest ones are almost always caught with cut or live bait, although eating size channels are famous for slashing into crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

KingKat is a serious catfish tournament trail sponsored by Cabela’s and other top-shelf industry companies. They have several Ohio River tournaments scheduled this year. To fish one of them, or learn more about their organization check them out at