Getting to know new “Cat” water.
Just as your doctor has training knowing the constituent parts of the human body, the river rat knows most of the nooks and crannies of the river he fishes. Just as every human body has its common parts, so too, does the catfish river have its locales, where catfish will be present. Knowing these general locations can make any visitor’s trip to a new cattin’ water that much more productive.
So where do you start? My initiation to the anatomy of the cattin’ river came from a domain far away from cat fishing; fly fishing. Fly fisherman for years have dissected rivers to get to know where their favorite quarry will live and eat. In most of the literature related to fly fishing there are three places that have been identified as being places where you might catch trout: Riffles, Run and Pool. These three areas, I will suggest are also significant for the cat man (surprise!)
These areas will hold active cats in almost any season. The rolling action of the water oxygenates the water and draws many of the catfish’s favorite foods. You can even anchor in these areas and at times run into a mess of active cats. Earlier on in the season these areas (when the water is still cooler) will hold cats for longer periods of the day and as the season progresses these areas will produce for shorter periods where the cats are on the chew. Cats on occasion will also use small obstructions in these faster water areas to rest. If you can see these obstructions, and are able to put your rig behind them, you will be pleasantly surprised by the regularity of the bites.
In the catfish world, runs are those river channels that are like highways by which fish travel from point to point. On some occasions during some times of the year, cats will be in the channels for extended periods of time. I’ll often check these highways by criss-crossing over them all the while paying attention to any marks on the sonar. It’s surprising how you’ll often see fish concentrated along these highways. In these instances, I’ll anchor just off to the side and cast out into the channel or into the ledge area of the channel.
Finally this last component of the river is by far not the least when it gets down to catching a bunch of cats. Pools or holes are where cats will spend a great deal of their time; knowing where in the hole and which holes (dependant on the season) will have an enormous impact on your cattin’ success. I would say that throughout the soft water period there will always be cats biting in this or that hole….the challenge will be to find those holes which are the most productive on any given day.
Just focusing on these three prior areas will, however, limit your cattin’ options. Other possibilities include; large flats and rock piles (present holes, channels and flats).