Early September good time for catching big river catfish
Late summer and early fall are when big catfish feed for winter.
Summer 2016 has been a bit unusual. That’s an unscientific observation. The Weather Bureau might not agree.
While some Kentuckiana areas have seen lots of rain, othesr have relatively dry. Some have been hot and humid, and other less so.
Anyway, mid-to late summer is usually the hottest part of the summer, and that is a time when fishing for most species is slow. However, catfish are a different story. Especially, for catfish in the Ohio River and its tributaries.
It’s the time of year when really big catfish start feeding to bulk up for the winter months ahead.
Over the years, some of the biggest catfish are caught from July through early September, a period known as the "dog days" of summer.
According to some historians, Greek poets Hesiod (ca. 750-650 BCE) and Aratus (ca. 310–240 BCE) refer in their writings to "the heat of late summer that the Greeks believed was actually brought on by the appearance of Sirius," a star in the constellation that the later Romans and we today refer to as Canis Major, literally the "greater dog" constellation.
Kentucky and Indiana share the blue catfish record (104.5 pounds) It was caught in August of 1999 from the Ohio River. Several other cats over 70 pounds were landed within a few days of the record catch.
Hot, steamy late summer weather usually means slow fishing for many species. Most fish seem to slow down just like anglers during hot weather. However, for cat fishermen, the dog days offer some of the best fishing activity of the year whether fishing in a rivers or lakes.
.Catfish can be caught anytime of the year and anytime of the day, but the most likely time to catch big cats would be in warm weather and at night. Catfish seem to prefer to feed late evening and early night. Some studies show there also is another significant feeding period in early morning, just before daylight.
Most cats go into deep, cooler, darker water in hot weather, especially during the day. But like everything else, there are exceptions. They often will come up to feed in early evening,
Not all catfish are alike. There are a number of different species of cats and they have different habits, including what they prefer to eat. Blue cats and channel catfish will bite on night crawlers, chicken livers, cheese and stink baits, and minnows.
Channel cats at times can be aggressive. I’ve had a number of channels strike bass lures. What I anticipated was a big largemouth turned out to a feisty channel
Flathead catfish, who earn their name from the shape of their head, prefer a diet of live fish, and among their favorites are shad, skipjack herring and bluegill.
Of the big cats, most anglers agree that the flathead is the best eating.
Small channels are tasty, but a big one caught this time of year is best returned to the water. The same goes for blue cats, however where they are caught and how they are prepared can make a difference.
It seems there are almost as many ways to fish for catfish as there are cat fishermen. Some use rod and reel, others use trot lines, while others may use limb lines. Another fun way is with bottles or jugs, which work like big bobbers.
No matter what fishing method you prefer, these “dog days” and the early days of fall are good days for big cats -- catfish that is.