Catching Tidal Mega-Cats

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There are some beastly blue cats swimming around down there.

Catfish can grow shockingly large, and while they do tend to be larger in freshwater, they get plenty big in tidal waters, too. Interestingly, the record for blue catfish (42.78 pounds), channel catfish (7.44 pounds), and flathead catfish (50.15 pounds) all come from the same body of water – Sabine lake. Sure, the 120.5 pound blue caught in Texoma dwarfs them all. Still, there are some mighty chunky tidal cats roving around out there. If you want to hook them, however, you may want to alter your techniques just a hair as compared to the way you target them in the fresh stuff.

big blue catfish

There are some beastly blue cats swimming around down there.

  1. Pay attention to the tides. In freshwater venues obviously this doesn’t matter one iota. In saltier waters, however, tide can play a major role. Different fish will bite best at different times in different places, but as a general rule of thumb, note that catfish tend to bite best during the first few hours of a moving tide. And most of the time a slack tide doesn’t produce much action.
  2. Match the hatch. Sure, you can catch a catfish on a hot dog. Or a chicken nugget, a hunk of roast beef, or a slice of Spam. But that doesn’t mean any of those things will come close to out-performing the food that the fish are accustomed to feeding on. Remember those records for tidal catfish we mentioned earlier? All three of them were caught on mullet.
  3. Look for bridges. In just about every body of water where cats are present, bridge pilings hold the fish. It could be the structure, depth, or scour holes, but whatever the reason may be this virtually always holds true.

What about rigging, depth, and the effects of frontal systems? These things all carry over (especially fronts – a strong one is the one way we know of to shut down the catfish bite). And the best news is, tidal cats taste very much like their freshwater cousins, so save ’em for the dinner table.


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