What are the catfish
The common catfish is perhaps the largest representative of our freshwater fish. According to some reports, it reaches a length of up to 5 m and a weight of 300 kg. It becomes sexually mature at the age of 3-5 years, spawning at a water temperature of 20-22 ° in calm places: bays, oxbows. The eggs are laid in nests among reed thickets. The male guards the nest until the larvae emerge from the eggs. The so-called Soldatov’s catfish (up to 4 m long), which lives in the Amur and Sungari rivers, is somewhat inferior to ordinary catfish in maximum size. In some lakes of the Amur basin, you can also find Amur catfish. Body length up to 1 m, weight is usually 6-8 kg.
Catfish are voracious predators. They feed on large and small fish, frogs, crayfish, molluscs, bears and other organisms of animal origin. Solid predators often attack waterfowl. Channel catfish occupies a special place among the catfish. The homeland of this fish is North America. In Russia, channel catfish is acclimatized in the reservoirs of the Krasnodar Territory and in a number of other places. Has a naked, elongated body, painted in brownish-brown tones. Dark spots are scattered on the back and sides, the belly is whitish-dirty. Males differ from females in a darker color and a short, wide head. Usually reaches a length of about a meter. Growing fast. Spawns in April-July. The male under the shore chooses a place for laying eggs, where he builds a nest, clearing the bottom of silt and debris. More or less omnivorous. In addition to small fish, it feeds on frogs, crustaceans, various insects, and sometimes plant food. Channel catfish is especially active in summer. By winter, like other catfish, it lies in pits.
The body shape of an ordinary catfish is similar to a burbot. The differences are expressed in the fact that his head is more flattened and wider, a huge mouth is armed with numerous small sharp teeth, the lower jaw protrudes slightly forward, the dorsal fin is small, and the long anal fin merges with the tail. The catfish does not have scales, but its skin secretes an abundant amount of mucus, which serves as protection against the penetration of various bacteria and parasites into the body. Coloring varies. The back is black, the sides are usually blackish-green with olive-green spots, the belly is white or somewhat reddish. There are albino catfish. Catfish belong to the category of nocturnal fish, whose active life occurs at twilight and at night. Scientists believe that the catfish does not use sight during the day, and its eyes do not have the characteristic mosaic of the retina of daytime fish. The lateral line, developed hearing and whiskers are, in my opinion, the most important sensory organs that catfish use when searching for food items.
Where to looking for
The catfish keeps in deep littered pits, under snags, in pools with coastal wash-outs, where there are snags. In some reference books, one can find the statement that, as a rule, he rarely leaves his campsites, being a pronounced sedentary fish. This is not entirely true. Catfish make spawning migrations; in spring, during high water, they go out to the fields to hunt for forage fish, in summer they can take bait in the water column and even at its surface. In warm sunny weather, they sometimes go to the shallows to warm up. Catfish are most active at dusk and at night, but sometimes they hunt during the day, especially during several weeks after spawning. In rivers, it spends most of its time in the deepest pits, in lakes it also adheres to the depths. In the lower reaches of the Volga, I had to catch catfish, both on the mother river itself, and on its tributaries, such as Akhtuba, Kharabalyk, Mitinka and others. The favorite habitats of local catfish are deep pools and pits near the border of a fast current.
What to catch
Catching even small catfish is exciting and memorable for a long time. Catfish is caught with bottom fishing rods, spinning, track, sheer lure. It is fascinating and sporty to angling it with a quok.
Fishing on donkeys. In the early nineties of the last century, we often went to the lower reaches of the Volga “savages” in order to take our souls off on a good fish. We caught pike perch, asp, roach, and of course, catfish. One April fishing trip was especially memorable. That time, upon arrival, we camped on the Kharabalyk River.
“Since they didn’t forget to grab the smokehouse,” said Victor, the camp leader, “the first task is to provide yourself with additional food.
To this end, we decided to first hunt for catfish. It took about three hours to prepare ten donoks. The day was already approaching evening, and it was decided to check the gear closer to midnight. Inspection showed that nozzles were completely eaten on all hooks.
– Really catfish? – I ask Victor.
– Well no. Most likely carp fish. Now it is unmeasured in the river, going to spawn.
Again we bait the hooks and throw in the donkeys, and in the morning we “remove” two even somat weighing ten kilograms … When fishing with donks, live baits, pieces of meat, meat of barnacles and crayfish, frogs, locusts, and bear are used as baits. In the spring, biting on the lobe of earthworms is quite successful. Live bait is best used from the reservoir where they intend to hunt for catfish. For catfish of the Lower Volga, sabrefish weighing 250-300 grams should be considered an excellent live bait. The best bite when the water warms up to 25 ° C, on bright nights and at dawn. Bottom tackle baits are usually placed at the exit from the pool towards the shallows.
The simplest bottom consists of a short fishing rod with a pointed end for sticking into the coastal soil and a reel for winding the fishing line, the supply of which is made taking into account the casting distance. But usually no more than 50 m, since it is difficult to cast a larger amount of fishing line, having previously placed it in rings on a clean section of the shore. At the end of the main line of such a donk, a sinker is attached, and above it one or two leashes with hooks. The diameter of the leashes, which are attached using swivels-fasteners, is chosen slightly smaller than the main line, so that when hooked, the leash comes off, and not the entire rig. A bell is usually used to signal a bite.
Currently, somat fishing anglers are increasingly adopting spinning instead of the simplest donkey. For bottom fishing, the most preferable are powerful two-handed rods, quite stiff with a weight test of at least 300 grams. Such a rod allows you to make long casts, since often the fishing point is significantly far from the shore. For example, when the channel part of a reservoir or a drop in depth is separated from you by a wide strip of shallow water. If you fish with live bait or baits that are loose on the hook, you need to bring in the rig using a boat.
Bottom spinning tackle when fishing for catfish needs a special, increased strength. Monolesku is used, as a rule, with a diameter of 0.7-1.5 mm, braid – with a section of 0.30-0.50 mm. A sliding sinker is placed at the end of the fishing line and a swivel is tied, and to it a leash, twisted nylon or braided, with a breaking load of 20-60 kg. The shape and weight of the lead depends on the strength of the current. The choice of a hook is mainly determined by the type of attachment, usually take No. 14-30 (according to domestic numbering), sometimes it is useful to use a tackle of two single hooks.
Choosing a coil also needs to be taken seriously. Powerful and reliable multipliers such as marine models are best suited for such fishing. Unlike fishing with a classic spinning rod, when during fishing you have to make a lot of casts, the spinning donk can be equipped (in the absence of cartoons) with other reels: reliable spinning reels, as well as inertial ones of the “Nevskaya” type on ball bearings. After the donk is thrown, the reel is put on the brake, and the rod is installed in a special stand, which is stuck into the coastal soil. The bite alarm, usually a bell, is attached in such a way that it does not interfere with the fishing out after the hook.
author V.A. Kazantsev
Open Water Fishing (Complete Fishing Guide)