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Crankin' Out Texas Catfish
The Lone Star State is full of great places for catching catfish. Of those many hotspots, these 10 just might be the very best to fish in the coming months.
Texas is catfish country.
Freshwater anglers here have all sorts of excellent opportunities for getting into largemouth bass, crappie and stripers, certainly. But the Lone Star State probably delivers more topnotch angling for cats than for any other game fish. With three fishable species, two of which are capable of growing to mammoth proportions, Texas' anglers have many options for exhilarating catfish action.
The following is a run-down of locales whose catfish outlook is expected to be the best overall this year. The good news: The hardest part of writing this story was narrowing down the hotspots. Fabulous catfish prospects are present virtually everywhere in our state!
With a population both strong in numbers and impressive in average size, this big border reservoir is tops for blues. Anglers there report catching taking quite a few larger-than-average sized blues over the last couple of years, and the lake promises great things in 2005.
The key to much of this lies in the abundance of forage, as Texoma is home to an incredible number of shad -- which are exactly what anglers should use for bait. Some of the best fishing is below the spillway, where anglers using large surf rods rigged with big shad or balls of shad cast their offerings into the river channel to reach some of the mammoth blues that dwell there.
Open-water fishing for Texoma's blues is likewise worthwhile. Most anglers target the old Red River channel and creek channels; in these, steep dropoffs provide plentiful forage and cover for massive open-water blues. Drifting over these areas with shad and cut perch works well during the late-spring/early-summer period. Anchoring over the deepest of these spots is a smart move in winter.
The lake is also home to a large population of flatheads (sometimes called "yellow" or "Opelousas" cats), which inhabit many of the same areas frequented by blues. However, some of the most rewarding fishing is found along shallow creeks at night during summer months.
Flatheads, more predatory than blues and channels, come to feed on the perch and other baitfish that hit the shallows in the creeks at night. Fishing live perch on the bottom or under a cork is a killer way to draw a strike from one of these massive catfish.
Channels and blues reliably prowl under Choke Canyon's cormorant roosts. The droppings of the fish-eating birds are a natural chum that draws in droves of catfish.
"There's nothing like catching these cats under the cormorant roosts," said Elroy Krueger, a veteran catfishing guide on Choke Canyon. "It's fun, and it can be fast-paced -- and produce some really big cats."
While most anglers opt to use rods and reels on the whiskerfish, some use floating juglines rigged with circle hooks and baited with cut shad or perch. Those who've never used juglines will be interested to know that this kind of fishing is highly exciting. When a big cat hits, the jug starts to bob up and down, and occasionally totally disappears.
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