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Your Guide To D/FW Whiskerfish
Another couple of lakes that Hungerford believes that Metroplex anglers should consider for a flathead outing are Arlington and Lavon.
The beauty of fishing for any species of catfish in the Metroplex is that you don’t need to have a $50,000 boat and a lot of expensive tackle to angle for these whiskerfish.
If blues are what you’re after, Brock says to find a big open point next to deep water and use some sort of shad, either live shad or cut shad.
If you’re fishing from a boat, look for the same combination -- a point and deeper water nearby.
“Obviously, with a boat you look for open water off a main point,” Brock said. “When you are fishing from the bank, it is hard to fish off the bottom in 20 to 30 feet of water at this time of the year. Right now, these fish have access to the whole water column, although in the summer, if a lake stratifies, the fish won’t go down below the thermocline.”
If channel cats are your cup of whiskerfish tea, Hungerford recommends baits ranging from chicken livers to night crawlers to shrimp to hotdogs -- at least at the two urban ponds mentioned earlier.
For channel cats in a reservoir setting, chicken livers, night crawlers, and shrimp will work for channel cats. To that list of potential baits, Moczygemba adds stink baits, blood baits, or even “globs of worms.”
To fish for flatheads, Hungerford advises looking first for what he calls the “gnarliest cover there is,” particularly in creeks.
Next, use the right bait, since flatheads are finicky. “Flatheads eat live bait,” Hungerford said. “They don’t eat cut-bait. I have a great uncle in his 80s and he has done a lot of fishing for flatheads and he said it’s got to be alive, nothing cut.”
What about tackle? All three TPWD biologists indicate that tackle need not be complicated for whiskerfish; baitcasting or spinning gear or even a spin-casting outfit can work when spooled with monofilament line in the 15-pound-test range.
While many a channel cat has been caught using a hook, lead weight, and bobber combination, most blues and many summertime reservoir channel cats will be caught by either tightlining or using a Carolina-rigging method.
As for flatheads, most of them are typically caught on trotlines and/or juglines. Check TPWD and local regulations before employing either of those methods.
As mentioned earlier, catfish can be hooked and occasionally caught on fly fishing gear. Use 6- to 8-weight rods, sink-tips or full-sinking lines, leaders in the 2X or 3X range, and flies such as a Clouser Minnow to give whiskerfish on the fly a try.
Keep in mind that while whiskerfish might not be the most beautiful species out there, they are still fun to catch and conservation practices should be followed.
“If you’re catching them for fun, be sure to bend the barb of your hook down,” Brock said. “That way, when it comes to getting the hook out, for the most part you’re not going to lose many fish.”
Finally, one of the best things about fishing for the D/FW area’s abundant whiskerfish is that they serve as the main ingredient to a delectable summertime fish fry.
In addition to hot peanut oil and a good coating mix, anyone hoping for a fish fry is reminded to observe legal limits, keep only what can be used, and to remember that generally, younger fish taste better than older fish do.
Whatever your preference -- catching whiskerfish for a fish fry, or catching and releasing them for the big pull and the grin they provide -- the D/FW area is a great place to catch catfish this summer. Give it a try -- see if you don’t agree!
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