July 28, 2021
In relation to fishing in floodwaters, there appears to be two sorts of anglers: those that view floods the identical approach they regard a Friday night time chilly entrance, and people who grin and hope for extra rain.
“I really like floodwaters,” says information Jeff Faulkenberry, who focuses on catching the large blue catfish of Truman Lake in Missouri. “Positive, the extra water there’s, the extra unfold out the fish are, however it’s like deer searching. Whether or not you’re searching a 20-acre discipline or a 200-acre discipline, you concentrate on the pinch factors, the issues that focus the deer. It’s the identical with catfish. Don’t concentrate on all the additional water, concentrate on the pinch factors the place the cats are.”
Many anglers goal blues suspended in deep water and are challenged when excessive waters enhance the water column over their favourite spots. Faulkenberry doesn’t fear in regards to the additional depth as a consequence of flooding; his focus is normally on comparatively shallow water.
“I guided round 280 journeys final 12 months and on 90 % of them I fished 10 ft or shallower,” he says. “My favored depth for blues is 2 to eight ft. I goal shallow water as a result of the fish there are extra aggressive than in deep water.”
“Truman was excessive and flooded lots final 12 months,” he says. “We fished a ton of flooded corn and bean fields final fall. On one journey we have been hammering blues round a flooded barn, fishing over submerged feed bunks the place the cats have been rummaging round for flooded cattle feed. They weren’t giants—15- to 20-pounders—however we caught a ton of them in as little as 2 ft of water.”
Faulkenberry patrols a discipline, side-scanning to establish pinch factors and construction or colleges of feeding blues. As soon as he finds them, he anchors and casts to them along with his Jeff Faulkenberry-Signature 7-foot 8-inch medium-heavy and heavy-action rods manufactured by Ozark Rods. He prefers Okuma XPD baitcasting reels in 30-size, spooled with Berkley ProSpec Chrome monofilament line.
“I just like the ‘give’ in monofilament,” he says, “particularly after we’re coping with huge blues up near the boat and with purchasers who aren’t skilled with huge fish up shut like that.”
He favors Santee-Cooper rigs with equal-length droppers to a 3- or 4-ounce weight and eight/0 or 10/0 Crew Catfish Double Motion hooks. Recent cutbait is necessary. “It doesn’t matter for those who’re fishing flooded fields or fishing the reservoir at regular pool, you want recent cutbait,” he says. “It may be shad, bluegill, perch, or no matter yow will discover, however it needs to be recent.”
Faulkenberry additionally targets flooded tributaries. The Grand River is a main tributary to Truman Lake, and its mouth is on his checklist of high-water hotspots. “There’s a railroad trestle the place the Grand comes into the lake,” he says. “At that bridge, the river goes from 50 yards huge to open lake in a brief distance. It’s an space the place there’s a seam and eddy, the place the river’s present bumps into the lake’s water. That’s the place to fish.”
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Purple River of the North
That’s generally the technique of famend information Brad Durick on the Purple River in North Dakota. When the Purple is excessive and rolling, he generally strikes into tributaries looking for magical spots the place opposing currents meet.
“The river pushes upstream into tributaries because it rises so it virtually appears just like the tributary is flowing backward,” he says. “There have been occasions after we went upstream till we discovered the spot the place the present transferring down the tributary disappears in opposition to the water transferring up from the large river. One time we went up a 40-foot huge creek, discovered that spot the place the currents met, and completely clobbered channel catfish. Massive ones. It was such a bit creek that the timber have been canopied over the boat so low that we needed to solid sidearm to keep away from tangling within the branches.”
When the Purple River approaches flood stage, authorities shut native boat ramps. Previous to that, Durick focuses on rigorously developed high-water methods to catch catfish outlined in his ebook Cracking The Channel Catfish Code. Certainly one of our sport’s most analytical specialists, Durick has recognized distinct patterns that outline the place he fishes when the Purple will get rowdy. He visualizes a bank-full river as three distinct rivers. The principle channel is U-shaped with the deepest water and quickest present. From the sides of that principal channel to every of the banks are what he calls “secondary rivers.”
In durations of excessive water there usually is a definite downstream-pointing “V” seen within the present on the floor of rivers. That V designates the river’s principal channel, what hydrologists name the river’s “thalweg,” figuring out the quickest half of the present over the deepest areas within the river.
“I look upstream, establish that V, and visualize the place the primary channel is,” he says. “Throughout excessive water I concentrate on the 2 secondary rivers on the perimeters between the primary channel and the financial institution. The present is slower in these secondaries, and the catfish are in that slower present, the place holes and logjams present construction and present breaks for the cats.
“A variety of occasions they’re proper up tight in opposition to the cutbanks, within the little seams between the slower present and the again eddies flowing proper alongside the financial institution. When you be taught to establish these seams within the secondaries on the perimeters of the primary channel, you may clobber catfish.”
Captain Terry Rogers of Paducah, Kentucky, runs Hooked On Cats information service on the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. He additionally fishes the close by Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. He views excessive waters as a chance to catch extra and larger catfish.
“Final 12 months, the rivers stayed excessive longer than they’ve for many years, and it was one in every of my greatest years ever,” he says. His purchasers steadily caught dozens of blue cats per journey, many as much as 50 kilos.
Rogers usually targets wing dams when the rivers are excessive, particularly on the Mississippi. He has a milk run of favourite wing dams the place he is aware of excessive water has created scour holes on the downstream facet the place these wing dams meet the shoreline.
“These huge washouts have by no means let me down when the river’s excessive,” he says. “I prefer to deadstick (drifting with rods in rod holders) between the wing dams. There are huge, shallow sand- and mudbars between wing dams, out of the primary present. Blue cats roam there, feeding. I take advantage of my trolling motor to float my boat at about half the present pace. I run Carolina rigs on 70-pound-test Excessive braided line with a 6- to 8-ounce weight on a sinker slide to guard the road, tied to a barrel swivel. I’ve a 14- to 16-inch chief of 50-pound-test Berkley Massive Sport mono tied between the swivel and an 8/0 Rippin Lips circle hook baited with freshcut skipjack—generally gizzard shad or threadfin shad.”
As soon as he has his trolling motor adjusted to maintain his boat pace at half the present’s pace, he drops his baits to the underside, bounces them a few times to substantiate depth, places his 7-foot 6-inch Rippin Lips medium-heavy rods in rod holders, then cranks the reels a number of turns to deliver the baits 3 to 4 ft off the underside.
“That offers me sufficient clearance to float baits over rocks or junk on the underside,” he says. “I watch my sonar and lift or decrease the baits as I move over humps or drop-offs. I typically goal two areas once I’m deadsticking. Both ledges or drop-offs near the financial institution that create areas of decreased present, or lengthy, sloping sand and dirt banks on inside bends. If I’m fishing a ledge parallel to a cutbank, I maintain my baits alongside the bottom of that ledge. If I’m fishing an inside bend, I run my baits alongside the bottom of little ledges or into drop-offs that stairstep all the way down to the deeper water.”
Extra River Recommendation
Captain Ben Goebel, proprietor of River Metropolis Catfishing, a information service primarily based in Mt. Vernon, Indiana, agrees that the sloping mud- and sandbars on inside river bends are catfish hotspots throughout excessive water. There you’ll discover a collection of stairstep ledges, generally holes that the river carved.
“The cats feed ‘up’ alongside these ledges because the river rises,” he says. “At crest, they are often proper within the flooded willows alongside the water’s edge, however usually they’re a bit deeper alongside these ledges and holes which can be in 15 to twenty ft of water on the within bend. They’re there as a result of the present is decreased on that inside bend, and there’s all kinds of meals washing into that space. Generally the primary channel will likely be rolling at 4 or extra miles an hour, however the present throughout that inside bend is barely sufficient to get my boat drifting so I can fish.
“We caught an 85-pounder final 12 months on the highest facet of an inside bend, laying alongside a ledge the place I wouldn’t even be fishing at regular water ranges. Folks suppose you must fish the deep holes within the Ohio and Mississippi to catch huge blues, however I catch as many in 25 to 30 ft as I do out in 40 or 55 ft of water.”
Goebel likes to bump baits for blues, whether or not he’s focusing on shallow water throughout floods, or deeper holes and ledges throughout regular flows. Some suppose bumping is troublesome for purchasers to be taught, however Goebel says informal anglers can be taught the approach and catch extra fish due to it.
“It takes an hour or so for a newbie to be taught bumping,” he says. “However as soon as they find out how the underside feels; as soon as they catch their first fish, then it’s game-on. Most of my repeat prospects ask to bump the following time they arrive as a result of they really feel extra concerned with the fishing somewhat than sitting and watching a rod in a rod holder. I inform them on the outset, ‘You’ll catch fish if we bump, and you may be drained on the finish of the day,’ as a result of it’s undoubtedly extra work. However on the finish of the journey they all the time appear to suppose it’s essentially the most pleasurable method to fish.”
Goeble’s prospects bump with 7-foot 6-inch medium-heavy B’n’M bumping rods he favors for the sensitivity. Daiwa Lexa 300- and 400-size baitcasting reels carry 80-pound braided Slime Line tied to a rolling T-swivel that reduces line twist. His three-way rig has a 15-inch-long 80-pound-test Slime Line dropper, with equal-length dropper strains to a 3- or 4-ounce weight and eight/0 to 10/0 Backstabber hooks from Hooker’s Terminal Sort out.
Goebel, Rogers, and Durick agree there’s a easy method to inform for those who’re fishing in the best spots when rivers are excessive, huge, and on the verge of “wild.” “For those who’re fishing and your line retains getting fouled with line-trash—grass and twigs and floating junk—you’re within the improper spot,” Roger says. “Transfer to the place there’s much less present and fewer trash. Catfish aren’t going to be the place there’s robust present beating them with twigs and all of the junk that comes downstream. You wish to be the place the catfish are, so search for areas of decreased present.”
A closing tip for when rivers and reservoirs have crested and are receding towards their regular shorelines: goal paths that drain floodwaters again to the primary channel. “After the crest, it’s a good time to be on the mouth of ditches or gullies the place flooded areas are draining again right into a lake or river,” Rogers says. “All of the cats that have been unfold out throughout the flooded areas move by these bottlenecks. You’ll be sitting on a parade of catfish heading again to deep water. These spots are greatest proper after the crest, as a result of they begin transferring out of these flooded areas as quickly as they really feel the change.”
*Dan Anderson is a veteran freelance author who writes extensively about catfish in In-Fisherman journal and this annual Catfish In-Sider Information. Information contacts: Brad Durick, redrivercatfishing.com, 701/739-5808; Capt. Terry Rogers, hookedoncats.internet, 270/210-4308; Capt. Ben Goebel, rivercitycatfishing.com, 812/568-8716; Jeff Faulkenberry, 660/351-5420, Jeff Faulkenberry Outdoor on Fb.