Catching Monster Catfish Near the Mississippi River
While there are many folks who feel the largemouth bass is the premier sports fish because of its high-jumping and hard-hitting abilities, the locals in the Louisiana area know that the catfish is king when it comes to bending those fishing poles. Many Louisiana charter boat fishing captains will tell you that huge catfish are being reeled in on a daily basis in a number of key spots along the Mississippi River.
If you’re looking for a challenge, and you want to haul in a record-size catfish, the following tips will help you land a monster of your own. Here are a few tips for catching a monster catfish near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Using the Right Type Catfish Bait
When you use the wrong bait, you not only catch the smaller catfish, you wind up attracting other species who will take the bait right off the hook before the giant catfish have a chance to show up. If you are looking to haul in a catfish over 10 pounds, you’ll need to be using the best catfish bait you can get. Goldfish and minnows can be purchased at any number of local bait shops that dot the Mississippi coastline. To catch a monster, you want to consider using suckers, herring, or shad, due to their oily nature.
To catch the really big fish, go with sunfish, goldeyes, or carp. While most catfish prefer the fish to be live, if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat just about anything. Good rule of thumb, the smaller the catfish, the less particular they are about their diet.
Leaving the Hook Points Exposed
A popular complaint among avid catfish hunters is that they get frustrated when the catfish that bite don’t take the hook, however, there is a very simple solution. Start fishing with the barb of the hook exposed instead of it being hidden for the best success. There is no truth to the stories of catfish avoiding the line if they see the hook. These fish are not smart enough to even know what a hook is, especially when they are hungry. When you hide the hook the barbed end must first penetrate through your bait before the catfish, giving them time to steal your bait and escape.
Simply thread your hook through your bait choice three times and leave the point exposed, you may lose a hook or two, but the monster catfish you catch will make it all worthwhile.
Fishing for Catfish Year-Round
There is a belief in this region that the big catfish only bite in the summer. Perhaps this may have been started by local fishermen hoping to keep others from hitting the area other times of year, regardless, it is not true. Although summer is a productive time to go catfishing, you could do just as well if not better by fishing in winter, spring, and fall as well.
Some catfish in the Mississippi River basin bite all year long, even when the temperatures in the water approach freezing which is rare in this part of the country. While some breeds of catfish do slow down as the water gets colder, they need to put on the pounds in late fall and early spring. In fact, if catfish are spawning in the summer, it could be the worst time to try and lure in a male who is busy guarding the nest.
Sitting, Waiting, Hooking and Catching
To catch the real monster catfish in the Louisiana area, you need to develop the skill of being extremely patient. It really doesn’t matter the weather conditions or time of year, fishing for catfish is certainly a sit-and-wait type game. What you will need to do is get your bait as close to the bottom as possible, then sit quietly as you wait for a monster catfish to find it.
This can be done on the back of a charter boat, or still-fish from a spot on the banks. One tip to catch bigger catfish from the shore, set your bait where the action is increased. The best places are the areas right below a river dam, it helps to channel the fish right to your bait.
Setting up at the junction of two rivers is idea because it forces the fish to a smaller swimming area and the motion of the rushing waters creates the perfect camouflage.
Fishing on the Morning Shift
If you are fishing in discolored or muddy waters, the catfish will find your bait both night and day. The trouble is that many new fishermen to the area do the same in clear water, and wonder why the catfish don’t bite. When the sun is higher in the sky, the catfish leave the clear waters for the safety of deeper and darker places.
When you are fishing the clear waters in the morning, you will certainly catch an abundance of bigger catfish. The catfish are usually filling up their bellies right before the sun comes up, then they go searching for a dark place to sit and hide for the day. With the sun in the sky, these fish now have better vision, and your movements on the shore or in a boat could frighten them away.
The catfish use their heightened sense of smell and taste to find food before the sun comes up, the perfect time to put your bait on the bottom and wait. The catfish should start going after your live bait an hour before dawn and last only an hour or two tops after that.
Speak to any Louisiana charter fishing captain about the best spots for catching catfish, they’ll get you to where you need to be. Now you know the techniques to help you find and land the biggest catfish hiding in those muddy waters just out of sight. Keep these tips in mind and you could be on pace to breaking the record for the biggest catfish caught in the waters near Louisiana.