Using Chum while Fishing for Catfish in a River via Kayak
By: Peter Egan
If you’ve been keeping up with the How to Chum for Catfish series here at PeterEgan.net and on YouTube, you’re already read that the third flood in just over a month between Hurricanes Matthew, Nate and a flood that was entirely due to strong southeast winds, brought with it alligators, which in turn resulted in a downturn in the fishing. The catfish school that seemingly lived in the bayou behind my house disappeared. The only fish were small bream. There appeared to be more gators than fish.
Thankfully, the waters have receded enough that the gators appear to have moved along and the catfish are starting to return.
I decided on Friday afternoon once I was finished with work to take my fishing kayak out and drop some noodles up and down the entire bayou, all the while dragging the chum bucket behind me as a paddled my way to the main river, all the way back down to the end of the bayou, then back to my house. As I paddled up and down the bayou after bringing the scent to the main river and leaving a scent trail behind me throughout the journey.
If you’re wondering what a noodle is, they’re essentially pool toys (those big, long noodle looking foam things often seen in swimming pools where children swim), cut into 4-8 pieces per noodle, with about 3-4 feet of line attached to it, and a hook at the end of the line not tied to the noodle. See the below photos for a visual of what a “catfish noodle” looks like.
The tactic worked, as I caught a mixture of channel catfish and blue catfish, the largest topping out at around 3 pounds. I used a combination of Canadian nightcrawlers and cut shad (caught in a cast net) for bait on the noodles.
I talked with several of my neighbors as I paddled around chasing noodles with fish on them.
I also caught a fish I wasn’t intending to catch, and did so in a most unusual way. As I was paddling through lily pads to retrieve a noodle with a fish on, the paddle must have struck a largemouth bass, which then became entangled in the lily pad stems. It was so stuck, I was able to grab it with my bare hands, landing the 1 pound fish without so much as dropping a line. See the video below for more on the this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.
In all, the hybrid fishing trip was a success. I caught so many fish I decided to fillet them and am planning a fish fry for after the Saints game (New Orleans Saints NFL franchise) on Sunday, October 22. I rarely keep fish, so the catch had to be larger than is usual in order for me to go through the trouble of cleaning the fish.
Above is a photograph of the kayak I used to catch the fish. Below is another photo of me holding a catfish.
Back in early May I wrote an in-depth article and filmed four videos explaining how to most effectively chum the water so as to catch as many catfish as possible while fishing. This article is the sequel to those chumming efforts wherein we review the results.
Between the How to Chum for Catfish article and videos and a more recent guide on fishing for catfish in general, it is the opinion of this author that anyone who has read the two articles and watched the videos will have adequate knowledge after doing so to not just catch catfish, but totally slay them (slay is slang for ‘catch a lot more’ when used in this context).
To recap, the articles and videos previously referenced are linked to (and in the case of the videos embedded) below.
Videos (If video 2 doesn’t start immediately after video 1 finishes, just manually click it. Same goes for videos 3 and 4):
The following are a series of photographs of me (Peter) holding fish he caught right there at my chumming spot (the water behind my house) in the time since the original article. These are to establish credibility that the system works. One thing to keep in mind is that I failed to land the four largest fish he got on the line for various reasons ranging from damaged fishing line to a poorly tied knot to trying to reel a 10+ pound fish up to the top of a balcony some 12-14 feet above the water using medium-light action fishing gear.
In all, I have caught about 150-200 catfish since the debut of the original article. Obviously, I haven’t photographed every catch, but the photos taken should be sufficient to establish that my (Peter Egan’s) chumming methods work.
For a while I was relocating them from the bayou/river to a drainage pond across the street from his house, but multiple floods have rendered those efforts moot.
Without further ado, here are the photos:
The Good Times – Catfish Everywhere!
First, all of the fish seen in the above photos were relatively unharmed and were released successfully. None had debilitating injuries at the time they were released.
Moreover, as you can tell from the multitude of shirts I’m wearing, these photos came from a number of fishing outings, all of which combined netted over 150 fish, perhaps closing in on 200. While I didn’t catch any massive fish during this time period, I did set the hook into more than one, but was unable to land any of them. The fact that I use pliers to flatten the barbs on my hooks (unless I intend to keep the fish I catch, which is rare) doesn’t help. I release 95%-98% of what I catch, so it’s a rare occurrence when I fish with a hook that actually has a barb to prevent the fish from spitting out the hook.
The two largest fish seen didn’t even take the bait. They were an approximately 4-foot catfish in the 25-30 pound range and another one closer to 5 feet in total length with an estimated weight of over 50 pounds.
The bottom line though is that all of these fish were seen or caught right off of my back porch, and the reason I’m able to catch fish sitting on a chair on my own balcony outside the room overhanging the boat slip, is because my chumming methods are effective. Without chum, on average I might get 0.5-to-1 fish per outing. I can catch as many as I want, literally (well, almost literally).
Trouble on the Horizon
An astute reader might have discerned that I am a fan of all things LSU, including but not limited to the school’s football program. After an agonizing week following their loss to Troy, I found my chum attracting a new species altogether.
I had been seeing Alligator Gar and Spotted Gar fairly regularly, however it wasn’t until the LSU Tigers were en route to the Swamp to take on the Florida Gators that I saw an actual alligator in the water behind my house.
Tropical Storm Nate must have relocated it, but it was about 9-10 feet in length, and decided to hang out where I chum, presumably in hopes of getting itself one of those catfish that used to practically reside there.
I went fishing anyway, and the gator took my bait. I wrestled with it for about 20 minutes before I realized that I was alone and would need someone to film me landing the gator if indeed I was able to do so. I had to tighten the drag to get the camera ready so I could film myself reeling in an alligator large enough to eat me just in case this was a battle in which I would emerge victorious.
When I went to grab the camera to record the landing, I had to temporarily tighten my drag to look for the camera and get it set up, and it was at that point that the gator made its strongest charge of the fight, breaking my 20-pound test Power Pro line.
The fact that the line didn’t break and wasn’t cut by the animal’s teeth is a testament to the quality of the product. While it can be hard to achieve a knot that holds, once you get one the chances are not much below the surface of the water is going to break your line, especially if you are astute at working the drag (the tension on the reel and line that determines how much pull force must be applied for the fishing line to come off the reel so as to prevent the line breaking).
The next day, a smaller gator showed up and has yet to leave. This one is 5-6 feet in length. I have yet to see any sign of a catfish since the gators showed up. I may have to stop chumming for a while and hope they leave, only to resume once they do in order to get the catfish back. One thing’s for sure, if there are gators in the near vicinity, the catfish will find someplace else to feed.
The remaining photos are of this smaller alligator that as of an hour ago was still hanging out behind my house.
The purpose of these photos and this segment is to disclaim that when you use chum, you may be inviting creatures aside from those you’re hoping to see.
The same principle applies to saltwater chum, for whatever it’s worth. Typically, sharks are the first or among the first species to respond to saltwater chum, regardless of whether you’re fishing for sharks or not. In the same vein, don’t swim in water you’re chumming, regardless of salinity.
As for this gator that just won’t leave, if it doesn’t leave on his own I may try to catch it this weekend and then relocate it a few miles down the river. The other option is to just take the boat out and find somewhere else to fish. The latter option removes the comforts of home from the fishing equation.
Look for another YouTube video soon, and as always, if you find any of this useful, please like, share and subscribe to these posts and especially the videos.