Fishing For Catfish At Night: Key Set Up Steps
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Equipment you will need :
- Good Set of Boat Anchors
- 12v Auxiliary Power System
- External Night Lights
- Underwater Lighting
- Live Bait Keeper
- System For Chumming
- Boat Rod Holders
- Heavy Bait Casting Or Spinning Rig
- Insect Repellent
Once you have tried Night Fishing For catfish you will be hooked for life. Trust me If you do it correctly you will catch fish, not only will you catch fish but some will be lunkers! Catfish feed at night and are very active, and when they get into a feeding frenzy fishing action can be incredible! Catfish have a very keen sense of smell and are attracted underwater fishing lighting. So If you can locate their nightly haunts you can entice them on to your hook with some simple methods I will explain here. Before I explain these methods in detail, there are some basic night fishing setups we need to address. Fishing at night is a totally different ball game then fishing during the day.
How To Set Your Boat Up For Night Fishing
Before you even think about going night fishing for catfish you need to have the following items:, External Lights to attach inside the boat ,either battery or Coleman fuel type lanterns with two mantles. Distribute your lanterns evenly through out your boat. I personally fish from a 20 foot pontoon and I have 3 halogen battery powered lights hung 2in the front, left and right and one hanging from my canopy in the rear. (You could replace battery powered lights with propane lights, just remember the propane lights attract a ton of insects)
I also recommend you purchase a small light you clip on the visor of a ball cap. This small light comes in handy when you are re-rigging your fishing poles. Trust me , no matter how prepared you are before your trip you will loose some tackle, from line crossovers, or snags, or fish snapping your line. (you can limit this by using heavy tackle and making sure your line is fresh) I personally use a led light that clips to the visor on my ball cap.
You also will need a light to illuminate the water surface. I recommend 12v halogen light that can be directed outside the boat. Mount it on the side of your boat, in the center. I personally use and adjustable halogen that I can clip to the railing on my pontoon. Direct the light at a 60 degree angle from boat to water. This will illuminate the surface.
You will need a underwater fishing light source. Of all your night fishing for catfish lighting sources this one is the most important. The underwater fishing lights will attract bait fish by the hundreds, and I am sure you already know the baitfish attract the cats. The reason the underwater fishing lights attract bait fish is because they generate what is called a plankton swirl, of which the baitfish feed from. You will be amazed how fast the big catfish will come and position themselves around the bait fish ball generated for the submerged fishing lights. Submerged lighting rigs come in a variety of sizes and shapes. The one I use is 36" long about 4" in diameter. You want to place your underwater fishing light in the center of the light pattern that you surface light is generating. Anchor your submerged lighting about 12 " off the bottom, (without an anchor they will float on top of the water).. make sure the light completely submerged under the water. I recommend you use a 5lb weight as an anchor. If possible, anchor the submerged light about 2 to 3 ft from the boat.
You will need a secondary power source for the submerged light,surface light and the power source to operate your bait aerator. "do not use your boats power source" This will drain your battery."you dont want to get stuck on the lake at night right? If you take a well charged 12v marine battery as your second source it will last through the night.
You will need all Your poles pre-rigged If you have the rigs I would set up 3 poles , per person in advance of getting on the water. Rigging tackle at night can be a real pain the butt , and you want to have your poles in the water as much as possible. You will end up doing it anyway , but if you have spare poles already set up, use them first before you have waist valuable time with poles out of the water.
Locating the cats nightly haunts
Pre-planning your night fishing trip is a must for a successful night. Every body of water is different when it comes to catfish habitat locations, but it has been my experience, that in any body of water the bigger cats roam the shore lines or back waters in search of food at night. I highly recommend you do some research on the body of water you intend to night fish for catfish on. At Minimum Get a topographical map of the area before you attempt your trip. These can be attained at any of the local bait and tackle shops in the area. (I recommend you visit one of these shops to get the local scoop anyway, if you dig deep enough these guys can pin point on the map Where to start fishing. This will save you lots of time.)
Arousing The Catfishs Senses For A Better Catch.
Once you have your water surface lights and your submerged lights set up and ready to go you dont even need to do the next step, you are ready to start fishing. The submerged lighting will get the schools of bait fish coming , but I take it step one step further because if you play on the catfishs extra sensitive sense of smell you can drive the Big cats into a feeding frenzy! Ok You say how?
Chumming will perk any catfishs keen sense of smell, it can actually drive the catfish crazy because they are a curious fish by nature and because they are constantly foraging for food at night. "Chumming" releases a slick of dead fish smells and particles of fish guts that both the catfish and baitfish feed on. I use a simple very in-expense and easy to setup method of chumming. You can also purchase commercial chumming systems that you can set up. First you will need a nylon netted bag that you can close tight. (a good example would the netted bags that you put golf balls in that have a string closure adjustment) This is what I use, works perfect , very inexpensive.Get yourself some good size freezer bags, at least 3 for a one night fishing for catfish trip.
Next, Purchase about 2 dozen good size chubs or cut up some other fish like small bluegill, and cut them in 1" to 2" slices, make sure you do this in a pan that will not drain all the juices. Fill the freezer bags pieces and juice all together, and let them sit outside in the sun all day long. Yes it will stink to high heaven by the end of the day, but that is what you want! Now stick the freezer bag in side the meshed bag that can close. Close the bag tight and tie a line at the bottom of the bag about 2 feet long. Attach about a 2lb anchor to get the bag to the bottom . Now tie a line at the top of the bag with enough lead line to get the bag on the bottom. Now before you lower the chum bag to the bottom take an ice pick, or something sharp that will puncture the bag , but not tear the plastic. Punch the freezer bag numerous times, then lower to the bottom an tie it off on the side of the boat.
Lets re-visit your catfish rigs, there are many setups you can use, i will mention a few that i use on a regular basis. Your rigs do not need to be setup for long casting, keep in mind you will be placing your line only a few feet away from the boat, at the edge of your underwater fishing light source.
Since you are going to be fishing only a few feet from the boat make sure your rigs have only enough weight to get your line to the bottom. Slip bobber set ups work well also.
my preference is a single hook tight line or slip bobber rig, both work fine , but single hook is just my preference. When I fish for other species of fish I will use a double hook rig but not when I am fishing at night for catfish. I use all heavy duty, open face , and spin cast rod and reels with 30lb test. I use a heavy test line because you never know when you will hook into a monster catfish when you are night fishing.You miss some smaller cats, but its well worth it when you catch your first 10lb plus catfish.
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