Catching bluegill and sunfish with shrimp


Earthworms are terrific for catching panfish. But what to do when you do not have a bait shop nearby and can’t dig any up (maybe you live in an apartment)?

Sure, I have heard folks sing the praises of boxed mashed potatoes. They have not worked for me—the potato tends to fall apart when the hook hits the water. I have reworked the consistency a bunch of time—and I’m done with that.

My new go-to bait is shrimp. I buy frozen, peeled shrimp—a container of 36 ran about $10. Each shrimp can be lopped into maybe a dozen tiny pieces that fit snugly on little size 8 snelled hooks.

Here’s the math for the value proposition: $10 / 36*12=432 pieces of bait = 2.3 cents per piece of bait. Bargain!

I only need to thaw three or four shrimp at a time—which can easily be done by soaking them in warm water for 10 minutes.

Shrimp also endures the nibbling by small panfish very well.

What more can you ask? Shrimp is cheap, you can have it on hand year round, and it work ridiculously well. Give it a shot.

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Places to fish for trout near Washington, DC: A list in progress

Kosar wild torut caught 03-24-2017aI acquired my first fly rod recently and fly fished for the first time a year ago at the Omni Homestead in Hot Spring, Virginia. (Read about my experience.)

Now I am compiling a list of places to fly fish for trout in the DC/Virginia/Maryland/Pennsylvania/West Virginia area. My hope is to compile, hopefully with some reader help, good trout-chasing venues with 6 hours of Washington, DC. This is a work in progress, so please share with me any places you know!

Omni Homestead
7696 Sam Snead Highway
Hot Springs, VA 24445

I was here in 2016. There is a small trout pond with free cane poles right near the hotel, along with Orvis guided trips to two nearby trout streams….(Read more) Continue reading

Fish history: The federal government used to farm fish near the Washington Monument

Fish Washington Monument

Who knew?!

“Starting around 1879, such species as carp, bass and shad were bred by the U.S. Fish Commission in large ponds just west of the Washington Monument….”

“In the summer of 1879, ponds started to be carved out in the area then known as the Potomac Flats. The ponds were the idea of Spencer F. Baird, a former Smithsonian curator — and future Smithsonian secretary — who had been tapped by President Ulysses S. Grant to head the U.S. Fisheries Commission. Baird noted the decrease in fish harvests across the country — due, he believed, to overfishing — and thought a breeding program could help replenish stocks. Such wild species as shad, bass and crappie would eventually be raised in the Washington Monument ponds, but the early attention was focused on a foreign fish: the carp.”

“Floods swamped the ponds in June 1889, sweeping no fewer than 4,000,000 baby fish into the raging waters of the Potomac….”

Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-world-according-to-carp-answer-man-visits-the-fish-ponds-on-the-mall/2017/11/18/93965c98-caf0-11e7-aa96-54417592cf72_story.html?utm_term=.dcff9ce11f2e

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 Make a Super Tough and Very Effective Santee Rig for Catfishing


Santee rigs are terrific for catching catfish. They keept the bait off the bottom, and when built with a swivel clip they permit the bait to move and turn gently in current. Retailers sell Santee rigs, and you can also make them with monofilament. Which is what I did for a while.

But making a Santee rig with steel wire offers serious advantages: (1) steel line is super strong; (2) the vinyl coating means it is easy to clean; and (3) steel line does not develop memory (twists/bends) or fray like monofilament, nor does it tangle around underwater structure (like branches).

I should add that using a heavy swivel at the end of this means you can easily swap out hooks, depending on the size of catfish you are chasing.

The components are very inexpensive and they all can be bought on Amazon:

As I note in the video, please watch a video on how to crimp properly if you are not experienced at crimping. It is easy to learn, but do it wrong and your crimp will fail—which means your rig will fail.

Once you get the handle of making one of these rigs, you can knock them out in 3 to 5 minutes. And if you want to pimp your rig a bit, consider adding plastic beads on both sides of the peg float. They can add a rattling sound that may draw more catfish.

By the way, if you are new to catfishing—yes, you DO need to use a weight to get this rig to the bottom. So, on your rod line attach a slider-clip above heavy swivel-clip (same as the one above). Clip a 2- or 3-ounce sinker (pyramid or disc) to the slider.

Voila—you are done. Bait the big hook with cut bluegill, shad, or blue catfish (the bloodier the better) or stinky chicken bait.

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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