Yes, big catfish come out in autumn in Washington, DC. I think.

IMG_20171104_081514539On October 1, I wondered aloud on this blog if big catfish come out in cool weather. Last year, I had my personal best on a sunny October day: a 37-pound catfish.

The answer is “yes,” although it is complicated by an additional variable. In the past 6 weeks, I have caught catfish weighing 40 pounds, 21 pounds, and I don’t know how many in the 10- to 15-pound range.

Case proven, right? Well, yes, but I also switched from fishing in the morning to fishing in the evening, usually between 8pm and 11am, although I did stay out until 1am one night. Catfish feed at all times of the day, but especially at night. And, it might also be the case that large catfish feed nocturnally more often. Regardless, for sure autumn is not a time to put away your catfishing rods.

All these big beasts were blue catfish, not channels, and they hit on both my stink chicken bait and on cuts of blue catfish meat.

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. Perhaps the weather will permit me to slip out in the morning and head to the river to chase a side dish!

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How to Turn a Cooler Into an Awesome Rod Holder and Bait and Fish Keeper


So, my previous post crowed about the bucket rod holder contraption I built for $20.

This rod holder is a little more pricy, but it is terrific, not least because it has the extra advantage of being something you can keep the fish you catch in. Additionally, this Coleman cooler also has measurements on the top, so you can lay your fish on it to assess the length.

All told, this cost me about $75, although one can buy a smaller, cheaper cooler, or get one used from someone on Craig’s List or somesuch. The pieces are:

  • 100-quart Coleman cooler with wheels (buy here)
  • Brocraft rod holders (buy here)

The Brocraft rod holders come with the installation screws, which you can drill straight into the cooler (no need to drill holes first: the cooler’s plastic will give way to the screw tips.)

As with the bucket, when you get to your fishing spot you must fill the cooler. You can use a bucket to fill it one-third to half-way full, or you can use a little pump and battery. A pump also can aerate the water in the cooler, which will keep your baitfish and catches alive. (Yes, this is a simple livewell, one you also can use on your boat.)

 

How to Make a Great Rod Holder Bucket for Fishing for Catfish, Carp, and More for $20


Raise your hand if you ever have set a rod down and had a fish hit and pull it into the water?

This has happened to me, and it is a real (reel?) drag. (Oh, the puns.) I have had catfish and carp both yank rods into the depths, never to be seen again.

This rod holder bucket is the solution to that problem, and can be made for about $20 in 30 minutes.

The materials are:

  • 1 5-gallon plastic bucket;
  • 3 nuts/bolts/washers (3/8″ or so);
  • 2 24-inch pieces of 1.5-inch by 3.5-inch wood; and
  • 4 large close line hooks (Bring your fattest rod to the hardware store to ensure you buy a large enough hook)

Drill holes in one piece of lumber that are the same size as your bolts; drill holes in the bucket aligned with the holes you just drilled in the lumber; etc. Watch the video: this simple contraption is pretty self-explanatory.

I love this rod holder. When you go to fish on a dock or next to a river or lake, you bring the bucket (with your bait and rigs inside). When you pick your spot, you take your stuff out of the bucket, and dip the bucket into the water to fill it. Voila: you have about 40 pounds of weight, which will keep your rods secure. (Note, the bucket should face the water, not the lumber cross.)

Give it a try, and let me know how you like it! This bucket last weekend helped me land a 40-pound blue catfish.

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Does October Bring Big Catfish?


In late August and early September, I caught mostly smaller catfish. My hypothesis was that the fish of breeding age had gone off food to focus on baby-making, leaving the pipsqueaks to hit my baits. I’d put four or five rods out, get hits every 10 minutes, and bag a dozen fish in two or three hours. But only one or two of the catfish would be more than 20 inches or more than 1.5 pounds.

Come late September, the hits were less frequent, and when they came they were big, slow rod benders, bearing 3- to 5-pound fish. And on the first day of October, well, I hauled up a 21-pounder that was 38 inches long. The other five catfish featured a couple of two-pounders, a two three-pounders, and a pipsqueak that jumped on the corn bait I put out for  carp. (I did land a small carp in the shallows between the dock and the shore.)

Last October, I set my personal best at Fletcher Cove—a 37-pound blue catfish. I hauled him in maybe 20 minutes after I brought up a similarly sized beast that snapped my rig at the edge of the boat (ARG!) when I stupidly failed to deploy a net.

So, maybe after a few weeks of sweet loving and little eating, the big catfish emerge from their lairs hungry?

Thirty days remain in October, so we shall see if the days bring more big fish.

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Fishing Diamond Teague Park In Washington, DC

Kosar channel catfish 09-03-2017One word: catfish! Well, o.k., you can also snag bass, crappie, and bluegill at Diamond Teague Park. But I come for the catfishing.

Diamond Teague Park’s is located right behind the Washington Nationals’ stadium. It is open dawn until dusk.

Folks can rent kayaks and canoes there, and do. I inevitably fish from the dock, and not once have I been skunked in the 20 or so visits. Which is why I love the place. The view of the Anacostia and southern DC also is grand, and there are bars and eateries within walking distance.

Often the catfish are small: 12-16 inches, so do bring 4/0 circle hooks in case your 6/0 hooks are getting hits but not hook-ups. But bigger fish also can be had. Today, we had three cats 24-28″ in a 10-minute span. I used this Santee rig and this chicken stink bait. I twice have experimented here with fishing for catfish with a big slide bobber—it worked, although not as well as bottom-fishing with Santee rigs.

How to Tie a Santee Rig for Catfish

This rigs is easy to tie, and it reduces snags and lost rigs by keeping your bait off the bottom. (When you cast, the peg floats on this rig slide to to swivel-clip/hook combo, and lift it off the bottom.) Links below will lead you to the materials you need to build this catfish rig.

40-pound monofilament: http://amzn.to/2xFk5la
Lindy beads: http://amzn.to/2iPyrfx
Swivel: http://amzn.to/2iRmN3J
Swivel with clip: http://amzn.to/2iRCMPr
Circle hook (6/0): http://amzn.to/2x02Z4t
3-inch peg floats: http://whiskerseeker.com/catfish-peg-floats/

As I note in the video, this rig also has the advantage of allowing you to easily switch hook size while you are fishing, in case the fish are bigger or smaller than you expect. If you are getting lots of bites but not lots of hook-ups, it might be the circle hook is too big to set. So unclip the hook and pop on a new one.

The barrel swivel at the top can be either tied or hooked to a swivel-clip  on the line running to your reel. The latter is my preference, as it means I can easily remove the rig to wash and store it. (Walking to or from your fishing hole with a big rig bouncing on your rod is not good. It strains your line and sometimes snap it.)

If you do not want to tie your own Santee rig, WhiskerSeeker tackle carries them: http://whiskerseeker.com/catfish-rigs-lures-floats/

WhiskerSeekerSanteeRig.jpg

Now, you might ask: so do you use a sinker with a Santee rig? Yes, you do. The sinker can be attached to the line running to your reel (not the rig!) I prefer to clip my sinker to one of these sliders, which you install just above the swivel clip: http://amzn.to/2exPXUr You can swap different sinker sizes on with ease, depending on the current’s strength. Put a Lindy bead between the swivel-clip’s knot and the slider to protect the knot from trauma.

For those of you who have not used a slider before, one thing you need to get used to is that tightening your line after casting is different. Without a slider, you cast, let the bait and sinker sink, then close your reels’ bail and reel until the line is straight-line tight. You can’t do that here. If you try to reel taut you’ll drag your bait to the slider/sinker combination, which is not ideal. Instead, you need to reel so the line is not really slack, then close your bail.

Kosar sinker slider 09-01-2017

Catfishing Near Reagan National Airport, February 6, 2017


Near where Four Mile Run feeds into the Potomac and just south of the airport is a place to catch catfish, according to Elstan Perez and Luke of Catfish & Carp. Both these guys were fishing this spot in December 2016 and January 2017 when the weather appeared to be in the 40s. (Elstan tells me it was mid-50s when he was there.)

Elstan used cut yellow perch; Luke used a carp rig with panko-jello-corn pack bait and frozen cut shad on a 4/0 hook.

Where to park? Elstan writes: “parking cost me $17 Long term economy parking [at Reagan airport]. You can find parking across the bridge at the grocery store or somewhere nearby for free if you didn’t want to walk half a mile or more.” And he bought two perch for $2.50 at Fresh World market.

So I gave it a whirl, and you can get full details here. Yes, I got a catfish, and you can see the video of it here.

Two pieces of advice: consider parking at Potomac Yards Shopping Center for free. And do bring some sort of stakes to prop up your fishing pole, as the stream’s shore is a mix of long grass and rocks held under wiring.

Reeling in a Channel Catfish (2 min 32 seconds)