Chumming for Catfish in a River with Noodles and a Kayak

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.

Channel Catfish 10-21-17 | Peter Egan

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.

blue catfish - Peter Egan

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.

catfish noodle

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.

largemouth bass Peter Egan

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.

Kayak - Peter Egan\

Above is a photograph of the kayak I used to catch the fish. Below is another photo of me holding a catfish.

Peter Egan - Channel Catfish

Related articles: Fishing for Catfish

Chumming for Catfish – The Results

How to Chum for Catfish – Results

By: Peter Egan

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.

Articles:

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!

Blue Catfish - Peter Egan
Peter Egan holding a nice, 3+ pound Blue Catfish
Channel Catfish - Peter Egan
Peter Egan holding a large catfish.
Peter Egan with two Catfish
Peter Egan holds two “keeper” size catfish
Peter Egan holding small Catfish
The fish weren’t all large…
Peter Egan Catching Catfish
Peter caught about 14 fish in all the night he wore the shirt in this photograph.
Peter Egan - Channel Catfish
Here’s a nice channel catfish caught on a different night while reppin’ an LSU shirt.
Channel Catfish - Peter Egan
Only about a 1 pound fish, but not bad for a first cast…
Peter Egan - Big Blue Catfish
Peter with another big blue catfish.
Peter Egan - 2 Catfish
Two Fish
Peter Egan _ Blue Catfish
Catfish caught on the first case using live worms as bait.

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.

Big Alligator

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.

Big Gator

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.

For what it’s worth, LSU won the game versus Florida 17-16 in a surprising upset. Most regular readers should be aware that I am fond of Les Miles, LSU’s former coach, and wish he were still the coach.

Gator in the Tchefuncte
Even though this one looks bigger than the one photographed at night, it is actually about half the size of the gator pictured above.
Tchefuncte River Alligator
The same, smaller gator.
Tchefuncte River Alligator
Just chillin’

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.

Video Links:

Fishing for Catfish

Fishing for Catfish

By: Peter Egan

The Tchefuncte River is located in Washington and St. Tammany Parishes in southeastern Louisiana. It and the bayous along its edges are the primary body of water in which I do most of my fishing. However, the same principles that apply to this body of water apply elsewhere as well. The wildcard would be small, man-made lakes and ponds, which don’t have much if any natural water movement. I’ve found these the most challenging bodies of water for fishing for catfish (provided the pond or lake hasn’t been artificially stocked with fish, fish are fed, etc.).

Tchefuncte River

The Tchefuncte River (on which I reside and in which I often fish) has suffered from over-fishing since Hurricane Katrina tripled the population of Saint Tammany Parish. Bass and alligator gar have been decimated. The bass by wanna-be Bassmasters tournament fishermen who hold tournaments in which the largest fish caught (out of 30-50 teams) often fails to reach 2 pounds.

The gar (both alligator and spotted gar) have been nearly eradicated entirely from the river due to a “Gar Rodeo” held every year in which the team landing the biggest gar earns a large cash prize. There are secondary categories and it used to be a great event. Unfortunately, the gar population simply hasn’t been able to withstand the fishing pressure this event produces.

Alligator Gar

Catfish on the other hand – while they’ve certainly sustained some measure of population decrease – seem to be doing well enough to still be worth investing anywhere from a few hours to an entire day fishing for them. My perception of catfish population may be skewed however, due to my proclivity toward and prowess for chumming for catfish.

I use a variety of chumming methods depending on my goals for the day, if I’m fishing from a boat or from my back porch, and the extent to which I am willing to deal with turtles on any given day.

The Tchefuncte holds all three of the major southeastern United States catfish species: channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish. I’ve caught plenty of each of the three, although I’ve caught more channel cats than blue cats and more blue cats than flathead catfish.

Of all the catfish species, I’ve noticed the steepest decline in the Flathead population relative to the other two. I have no explanation for why this could be or if my anecdotal observations are even representative of the river as a whole.

Anyway, there are a few different ways to fish for catfish. I always use chum. If the water is moving, fish downstream from the chum, near it but not too close. Read below for more on each individual method.

Peter Egan Catfish

Catfish Fishing Methods

  1. Weighted bottom fishing.
  2. Bottom fishing – no weight.
  3. Just below the surface using a bobber to keep the bait at the desired depth.
  4. Fishing near the bottom using a bobber or sliding cork to help identify when a strike occurs.
  5. Jugs/Noodles/Trotlines
  6. Noodling

1. Weighted bottom fishing

This would typically involve a leader with a half-ounce weight about 12-14 inches above the hook (you tie the line to the leader), or with leaders which feature a clamp at the bottom for the weight with a separate line/wire part of the leader coming  out of the side, this is where the bait would go. The objective of this latter leader style is to ensure the bait is near the bottom but at least 4″-6″ ​off the bottom.

Either way, these techniques are used when there is fast-moving water or a strong current and you need the weight to keep your bait in one place. Remember, catfish are primary scent feeders, so if your bait isn’t sitting still in moving water they will have trouble finding it provided it’s moving.

Fishing Leader

2. Bottom fishing – no weight

This method would be used in bodies of water with no or almost no water movement or current. The purpose of this method is to avoid losing fish that strike while method #1 is deployed, but spit the bait out when they feel the tug of the weight. In bodies of water that are heavily fished, the fish will learn to immediately spit out anything that doesn’t feel right. When fishing without weight, not only is the weight not needed due to the lack of moving water, but the fisherman need not be perfect in setting the hook, as an often be the case with the first method.

3. Just below the surface using bobber to keep bait at the desired depth

This is my preferred method when it’s working. The main advantage to fishing closer to the surface than the bottom is that you’re far less likely to get your hook caught on debris on the bottom, and no possibility unless a fish gets hooked and swims into some sub-aquatic structure, making it difficult if not impossible to land the fish. Still, those instances are rare if you’re careful not to fish near known structures and know how and when to work the drag on your fishing reel.

Unfortunately, this method generally is less successful with catfish considered to be well above-average in size, but can be a great way to catch as many 1-4 pound fish as one desires (provided they’re chumming effectively).

Fishing Bobber

4. Fishing at or near the bottom with a bobber or sliding cork

This method is useful when you know the approximate depth of the water being fished. It’s a combination between methods 1, 2 and 3. The purpose is to give the fisherman a slight advantage by being able to watch the cork or bobber as opposed to feeling for a strike. This is especially useful when fishing with more than one rod simultaneously.

5. Jugs and noodles

Jugs and noodles are literal empty milk, 2-liter soda and detergent bottles, or pool noodles cut up into 3-4 pieces. They are used because they float and even the largest fish can’y keep them submerged for long.

This method requires a boat, as the fisherman attaches twine or fishing line with a hook at the end and baits each jug, spreading them out across a wide amount of water, then driving the boat towards any that start moving (with a fish on) and using a net to scoop both jug and fish. Obviously, this method requires a boat.

I find jugs/noodles far more effective than trot lines, in which a line is run either across a river or across a stretch of the shoreline, with individual lines with hooks every 18″ to 24″. This method leaves too much time for the fish to remove themselves from the hook, as the line is traditionally left baited in the water overnight. Some people swear by trot lines, but I’ve had far more success with jugs and/or noodles when fishing without a rod and reel.

Fishing Noodles Jugs

6. Noodling

This is a dangerous form of fishing popular in Oklahoma involving people wading into the water, feeling around until they find an ideal habitat for a large catfish, then attempting to catch the fish with their bare hands, usually by gripping it at the jaw. Louisiana waters where freshwater catfish thrive also happen to be full of alligators, so I’ve never tried this form of catfishing. If I were ever to travel to Oklahoma or parts of north Texas, I’d certainly give it a try as long as my first trip was as the guest of someone experienced in the practice.

Which method of catfishing is best depends primarily on the water conditions in a given body of water. If the water is still, you can afford to stay off the bottom more often than not. If the water is moving rapidly or if there is a strong current, you’ll need to put enough weight on your leader to keep your bait in place, with the amount of weight necessary depending upon how much it takes to keep your bait in one spot without the water being able to move it (thus making it difficult for catfish to trace the scent of your bait). By keeping it in one place, the fish can find the bait more easily.

If you’d rather not deal with a rod and reel (and you have a boat or at least a canoe), maybe jugs/noodles or a trotline are for you.

Baits

Which bait to use depends on what the fish in your area prefer, and your willingness to get your hands dirty.

It’s hard to beat Canadian nightcrawlers, but you’ll be washing your hands every time you bait up. The same goes for pre-packaged stink-bait like ​Magic Bait.

Other options include shrimp, hot dogs, chicken and beef livers, artificial lures that are hollow and designed to be filled with a foul-smelling paste with one large hole to insert the paste and a few smaller holes to let the paste’s scent escape the rubber container. There are also sponges with hooks attach that are designed to be dipped into a commercial catfish bait product that smells worse than death.

I keep large Canadian nightcrawlers (usually from Wal-Mart), raw shrimp (perhaps slightly rotten), Magic Bait’s “Chicken Blood” flavor bait and Magic Bait’s Dinner Bell Catfish Chum. I typically use the commercial chum when I don’t have a natural chum that’s better. I’ll mix it with Magic Bait (the bait mixed with the chum) and will throw in whatever decaying food leftovers I have that would compliment the scent.

Canadian Nightcrawlers

One example is a paste I make by catching shad in a cast net when they school in the summer, putting them into a blender mixed with water and blending until all that remains is a fine paste. I freeze the paste inside a plastic bag and add to the chum bucket as needed.

That said, conditions have not been very good for shad this summer, and when I have seen them I haven’t had my cast net on me, so I’ve had to make due with mostly commercial chum for the better part of this year.

Conclusion

In any case, the method of fishing should be determined by the body of water in which you’re fishing. Use the guidelines above to determine which type of fishing will yield you the most catfish.

Bait is as much a matter of preference as anything. I’d recommend keeping more than one bait on hand just in case the fish don’t like whatever bait you throw out initially.

Tchefuncte River Flooding Changes Fishing Outlook

Tchefuncte River Flooding Impacts Fishing Outlook

Monday, June 19, I was amazed at the size and aggressiveness of the catfish feeding on a cup of dry dog food I had thrown into the water from my weight room balcony. There were at least a dozen fish over 2-feet long and countless smaller fish fighting each other for the dog foot. Two massive catfish would collide and they’d both make a splash similar to what you would expect to hear if you dropped a cinder block into the water from about 20 feet up in the air. It was quite a display.

Nature has a way of knowing when major weather events are imminent, and these fish were forecasting a storm and subsequent flooding that I hadn’t anticipated despite seeing the signs first-hand (the fish going crazy).

Had I realized the storm was going to cause such severe flooding I’d have gotten a hotel room so as to not be trapped inside my house. Being flooded in, I decided to take the unexpected day off from work to try and catch some of those massive catfish I had seen feeding just two nights before.

Unfortunately, the day had other plans for me. Shortly after catching my first catfish (a relatively small one), as I was removing the hook my dog Paris swallowed the wad of Magic Bait catfish bait — hook and all — that was attached to my other rod and which I was about to throw in the water.

Well, I wasn’t able to get her to throw it up and had to cut the line, leaving the hook somewhere inside my dog’s throat or stomach. Luckily, my brother was in the area and he was able to meet me after I waded through waist-high water to carry the dog to the roadway (that wasn’t flooded), and bring her to the vet for me.

Peter Egan soaking wet after wading through a flooded road

Luckily, the vet called a few hours later and said the surgery was a success and that the dog was expected to make a full recovery. My bank account likely won’t make a full recovery, but that’s a different story for a different day.

Anyway, I fished for about three hours after that. I caught five small catfish. Had I done my fishing two days prior, all my efforts chumming in order to keep catfish in the area would have resulted in quite a haul. After the flood, the effect of the chum was minimized as fish have access to new ground that’s usually dry and tend to leave their regular spaces exploring their new, temporary territory.

I’m going to try again in a few hours once it’s dark (which is when I normally see the big blue catfish – for whatever reason they won’t eat during the day, even if I throw the same food in the same spot). Hopefully, my efforts tonight will yield better results than the five 12-14 ounce catfish I caught during the day.

If you were planning on fishing the Tchefuncte the remainder of this week or this weekend, I’d suggest a change-of-plan. Everything that would normally apply in fishing the Tchefuncte can be thrown out the window in these conditions, including but not limited to there being twice the water containing the same number of fish (meaning the fish are more spread out and thus harder to catch). I would recommend booking a fishing trip where results are pretty much guaranteed. The storm system is well past the southern tip of southeast Louisiana, so offshore fishing should be close to normal if not completely normal by now.

My advice would be to call someone like Captain Troy Wetzel and ask him about the conditions in and around Venice, LA. If he’s comfortable going out in the Gulf and doing some offshore fishing, book a fishing charter with him or someone like him, depending on whether you prefer to fish offshore or inshore saltwater.

If you opt to fish inshore saltwater, make sure to do your research on the fishing captain. There are just as many bad as there are good. Not everyone with a nice bay boat has the tools to be a good charter captain. Certain guides will ensure their clients limit out every time out, while others are still trying to learn what the good ones (like Willy Serpas) have known for decades.

Offshore charters generally involve less risk because there isn’t as much nuance involved in terms of finding the fish and catching them. The oil rigs are the only structures out there. The only questions is are the fish biting that particular day. Sure, read reviews and make sure you don’t overpay or get stuck with an amateur, but generally speaking as long as you communicate your goals and establish that those goals are consistent with the captain’s strengths, there’s not as much risk when fishing offshore as compared to inshore.

To read more about offshore fishing, leaving out of Venice, LA, check out the following post: Peter Egan Enjoys Offshore Fishing Trip Out of Venice LA.

Anyway, below are some photos of the flooding, along with some photos showing what the water level normally looks like for anyone interested.

Tchefuncte River Flooding
The water in this photo is normally dry land.
Tchefuncte River Flood
The flooding actually got a lot worse than this.
House on the Tchefunce River
This is where the water level is on an average day.
House on the Tchefuncte River
Same house shown in above photos, only the ground isn’t covered by water like it was June 21, 2017.

How to Chum for Catfish

How to Chum for Catfish

Increase your catch by learning the strategies and techniques behind chumming for catfish

By: Peter Egan

Note: The instructional videos are at the bottom of the article. If you’re only here to watch the videos and learn to chum, scroll down until you see the videos.

Ever since I became an adult and started living on my own (with the exception of when I was enrolled full-time in college), there has been one constant — I’ve lived on or near the water. After Hurricane Katrina shut down Tulane’s campus, destroyed my uptown New Orleans home and forced me to take a semester off from school, I’ve resided one or near a large body of water.

From 2005-2011, I lived in a home located on a bayou just off the Tchefuncte River. From 2011-2012 I lived in a beachfront condo along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. From 2012-2014 (October of 2014 to be exact) I lived in a house three blocks from the beach about two miles from the Condo I had lived in previously.

In October of 2014, I returned to Covington and now find myself in the same house on the bayou and 150 feet from the Tchefuncte River.

The reason I have always sought out places of residence near large bodies of water is simple: I love to fish. Freshwater fishing (like the Tchefuncte, the bayou on which my home resides or the pond at my parents’ house growing up), inshore saltwater, beach fishing, marsh / brackish water, offshore — it’s all fishing to me and I enjoy it all.

Peter Egan's Fishing Store
Peter Egan's Fishing StoreOf course every form of fishing and even every species of fish when you get right down to it has its own unique challenges which require different approaches in order to achieve results. Living on the Tchefuncte River, I occasionally fish for bass, but the river has become so over-fished post-Katrina when the area’s population more than tripled that bass are pretty hard to come by. You really need a bass boat with a trolling motor and an assortment of various tackle to even have a chance at catching Power Pro Fishing Line - 20 Pound Test>more than one or two small bass on a given day in the Tchefuncte. A good day bass fishing in the Tchefuncte and all the connected bayous and lagoons would consist of maybe 3-5 bass total, perhaps one weighing over 1.5 pounds. It’s really not a good river in which to fish for bass – especially when you stop to consider the near-constant boat traffic and the fact that on some weekends, 20-25 different boats all troll down the bayou upon which I reside. Most are probably clueless to the fact that there’s already been a dozen other fishermen who’ve thrown every lure at every angle imaginable by the time they make their way down my bayou. Maybe they’re not and they just don’t care. I don’t know and don’t much care myself.

My preferred species of fish to target in this river at least are catfish.

There are several reasons for this: For one thing, catfish are far more abundant than are bass or crappie, the other two primary game fish targeted by fishermen (the river is nearly extinct of Alligator Gar, a species that thrived in the river pre-Katrina, due to over-fishing). Catfish don’t require a boat, trolling motor or tackle box full of expensive artificial lures of every texture, shape, color and size. In terms of food, catfish are delicious, and the taste of fried or broiled catfish rivals that of the other freshwater fish species commonly eaten. That said, catfish are the only freshwater fish on the menu of literally every seafood (and many non-seafood) restaurant – at least in the southeast United States.

A day of bass fishing might yield 3-5 fish on a good day. Panfish (sunfish, bream, perch, bluegill – many species with countless names but all basically the same fish) are easy to catch and taste good. However, they’re small fish and even the larger ones are only a few ounces. Crappie (aka: sac-a-lait) are the exception, as they can grow to be several pounds, but unlike other panfish, crappie can require elaborate tackle and techniques to catch. For the most part panfish are easy to catch and taste good, they’re just a lot of work to clean and there’s not a lot of meat per fish.

A day of fishing of catfish on the other hand can yield dozens of fish, hundreds if you care to catch that many. The fish can range in size from a few ounces to 50-60 pounds on the large end of the spectrum.

Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish

The maximum size of the fish varies depending upon the species. Channel Catfish, which are the most common species in the Tchefuncte (and in the southeastern United States in general), can reach a size of approximately 40 pounds, however this is extremely rare. A large channel cat is anything over 5 pounds. I’ve caught a handful in the Tchefuncte over 10-12 pounds, but just a handful out of hundreds of fish. Most will range between 1-4 pounds. They’re not huge, but are delicious and widely considered to be the tastiest of the three main species of catfish found in the Tchefuncte.

According to Wikipedia:

Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) is North America’s most numerous catfish species. It is the official fish of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee, and is informally referred to as a “channel cat”. In the United States, they are the most fished catfish species with approximately 8 million anglers targeting them per year. The popularity of channel catfish for food has contributed to the rapid expansion of aquaculture of this species in the United States.

A member of the Ictalurus genus of American catfishes, channel catfish have a top-end size of about 40–50 pounds (18–23 kg). The world record channel catfish weighed 58 pounds, and was taken from the Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina, on July 7, 1964. Realistically, a channel catfish over 20 lb (9 kg) is a spectacular specimen, and most catfish anglers view a 10-lb (4.5-kg) fish as a very admirable catch. Furthermore, the average size channel catfish an angler could expect to find in most waterways would be between two and four pounds.

Channel catfish will often coexist in the same waterways with its close relative, the blue catfish, which is somewhat less common, but tends to grow much larger (with several specimens confirmed to weigh above 100 lb).

Source: Wikipedia

Blue Catfish

In addition to Channel Catfish are Blue Catfish. Blue Catfish are not quite as common as Channel Catfish in the Tchefuncte, but they’re plentiful nonetheless and based on my anecdotal evidence would appear to be the second-most commonly found species in the Tchefuncte.

Blue Catfish

Blue Catfish differ from Channel Catfish in appearance and in size. Blue Catfish have a blueish tint, don’t have the spots commonly found on channel catfish, have a dorsal hump and over 30 rays on the anal fin (compared to the channel catfish, which generally has between 25-29).

More importantly, Blue Catfish can grow to over 14o pounds, with several documented cases of anglers catching blue catfish in excess of 130 pounds, and a handful over 140. Generally speaking, throughout my history of fishing the Tchefuncte, the Blue Catfish I’ve caught have been larger on average than the Channel Catfish, and most of the fish weighing over ten pounds that I’ve caught have been either Blue or Flathead Catfish, which we’ll discuss next.

Blue Catfish (underwater)

Blue catfish, like their close relative the Channel Catfish, make for great table fare. They’re slightly below the Channel Cat in terms of their taste.

Blue Catfish will eat almost anything, dead or alive, that they can fit into their mouths.

Blue Catfish (2)

According to Wikipedia:

Blue catfish are opportunistic predators and eat any species of fish they can catch, along with crawfish, freshwater mussels, frogs, and other readily available aquatic food sources. Catching their prey becomes all the more easy if it is already wounded or dead, and blue catfish are noted for feeding beneath marauding schools of striped bass in open water in reservoirs or feeding on wounded baitfish that have been washed through dam spillways or power-generation turbines.

More information on Blue Catfish: Wikipedia

Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish are the third primary species of catfish found in the Tchefuncte River. They can grow very large, and have an approximate maximum size that is comparable to the Blue Cat. Commonly referred to as “Tabby Cats” among south Louisiana anglers, Flathead Catfish have one distinct difference from Channel and Blue Catfish: their feeding patterns.

Flathead Catfish

Yeti CoolerYeti Cooler

Flathead Catfish prefer life prey. Whereas Channel and Blue Catfish will eat almost anything they can smell, feel or catch (and fit into their mouths), Flathead Catfish are somewhat more carnivorous and prefer to eat smaller fish, crawfish, insects and worms.

Flathead Catfish are good to eat, but their taste is not quite as delicious as Channel and Blue Cats. Flathead Cats certainly taste good enough that were you to catch a nice-sized one, it would go in the Yeti (ice chest) as opposed to being released.

Additional Information about Flathead Catfish: Wikipedia

Magic BaitGenerally when I fish for catfish in the Tchefuncte or Bogafalaya Rivers, I’ll catch all three species, Typically using live worms, nightcrawlers, occasionally liver and sometimes Magic Bait or another brand of “Stink Bait” for bait. I also chum constantly, so I don’t have to travel beyond my back porch to catch as many catfish as I so choose.

This brings us to the reason for this article. Chumming for catfish can greatly enhance your catch and make fishing trips infinitely more fun if it’s done properly. Luckily for my readers, I’ve assembled a series of videos I filed outlining the chumming techniques and strategies I personally use.

Full disclosure, I use Magic Bait’s pre-made, commercial chum as one of the main ingredients in my most common chum mixtures. I recommend buying it online, as you can get it a lot cheaper at Amazon than at Bass Pro Shops. If you click the image or the link it will take you to a page where you can buy the product. I endorse this product because it works. I use it. I pay for at least a bag a week, every single week. Sure, I mix it with various other ingredients to concoct my proprietary chum blends, but it is my genuine belief that the Dinner Bell Fish Chum from Magic Bait is an excellent starting point and a perfect base around which to build your chum.

Flathead Catfish (2)

I also explain different chumming techniques and strategies depending upon your goal. Specifically, I outline two separate strategic approaches for both short-term fishing goals (meaning a one-time fishing trip to a spot you may or may not have fished before but don’t have access to regularly enough to continuously chum the area). The other strategic approaches involve long-term chumming. This is for anglers who either live on or near a body of water, or who have easy access to the water sufficient to maintain a permanent chum bucket and change it out every week or so. Since I live on the water, I obviously prefer the latter approach, but I recognize that few people have this luxury, so I’ve included instructions for those who cannot for logistical reasons maintain a constant chum spot.

In the effort of full disclosure, the four videos combined make up more than half an hour of video recordings. However, I can promise you that if you devote the time to watching all four videos, you will not regret one moment of it, and you’ll emerge a better fisherman. Every line of dialog contained within these four videos was included for a specific reason. If you miss one line you could very well miss something very important.

In other words, pay close attention and watch the videos in order, one-through-four, from beginning to end; at least if you wish to become a better fisherman and know when and how to chum most effectively depending upon your specific goals for that particular fishing trip.

The videos are below.

Chumming for Catfish

Four-part video series featuring expert fisherman Peter Egan of PeterEgan.net.

Chumming for Catfish – Part 1 (Introduction)

How to Chum for Catfish – Part 2

How to Chum for Catfish – Part 3

How to Chum for Catfish – Part 4


Hopefully you’ve watched the above videos and learned when to chum for catfish, how to chum for catfish and which tactics to use depending upon long-and-short-term-goals.

As you can see, the techniques work. My line wasn’t in the water a minute before I caught the first fish.

I’ve been chumming consistently in the time since these videos were filmed. I’m planning on fishing the spot with a friend the weekend of May 05-07, 2o17, and I will update this post with photos of our (sure to be solid haul of catfish).

Tchefuncte River Fishing Report – April 05

Tchefuncte River Fishing Report – April 05

Following the storm that passed through the Covington/Madisonville area on Monday, April 03, the water level of the Tchefuncte River is higher than normal, and the water is very muddy.

Typically, the water is muddy from Friday afternoon through about mid-day Monday (on a weekend wherein the weather is pleasant) from all the boat traffic. Both non-fishing boat traffic and fishing have increased at least tenfold since Hurricane Katrina, and in the opinion of this author the river is being over-fished.

Tchefuncte River

I live on a bayou just off the Tchefuncte, and every day there are at least a half-dozen boats that pass up and down the bayou using their trolling motors fishing for bass mainly. I’ve counted as many as 24 boats one Saturday. Perhaps there was a tournament that day?

Every now and again I’ll see someone using live bait, which could technically put them in play for just about any species of fish found in the river. I would estimate that nine out of ten are using artificial baits, which would strongly suggest their target is largemouth bass.

The fishing report for April 05, 2017 is as follows:

Conditions:

  • Water Clarity: Poor
  • Water level: High
  • Outlook for bass: Below-average (see below for additional info)
  • Outlook for catfish: Below-average (see below for additional info)
  • Outlook in general: Poor

Largemouth Bass Outlook, Advice

If targeting bass and determined to fish today or tomorrow, I’d recommend planning the trip for early morning or late evening. Water clarity is so poor right now that sight-baits won’t bring much success. Use something that makes noise or chops up the water to alert the bass to its presence. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits along shorelines and over lily pads, weedless top-water frogs (and any other weedless top-water bait that can be fished over lily pads), chatterbaits and even diving top-water minnows that have a rattle inside them to make some noise. If the fish can’t hear or feel the vibration of the bait, you’ve got very little chance because unless you happen to place it literally right in front of the fish’s face, it probably won’t see it.

Catfish Outlook, Advice

Catfish Chum
Click the image for more info

If fishing for catfish, I’d strongly recommend chumming your fishing spot and being patient. Fish near the chum or past the chum in whichever direction the water is moving that day. Magic Bait makes a good catfish chum that I’ve had success with before. Combine one bag of chum with one bag of their actual catfish bait into a perforated minnow bucket, add weight to the bucket and wait for the fish to arrive.

Traditional tactics like using jugs or noodles (pool flotation toys cut into pieces) may bring success due to the amount of space covered by this technique, but the degree to which the water is muddy is making it difficult for the fish to smell in addition to making it virtually impossible for them to see. If fishing with a rod and reel, I would definitely chum and wait at least an hour before declaring the day a failure. 

Tchefuncte River - Catfish Feeding

One last note: the catfish in the Tchefuncte have been more aggressive in their feeding of late right at dusk and dawn. I regularly feed them cat food in my bayou and I’ve noticed they completely ignore it if I throw it out at any point during the day when the sun is up. At dusk, or after dark, the demolish every morsel that lands in the water. Take it for what it’s worth.

As you can see in the above photo, the turtles are gorging themselves while not a single catfish is anywhere in sight. Worth noting is that this is the same spot I feed them every day. This time it just happened to be a few hours earlier than normal, and the fish were nowhere to be found.

This is a relatively new development for me. I’ve traditionally had success fishing for catfish in the Tchefuncte mid-day during all seasons of the year. I’m not sure what the reasoning is behind why they seem to be feeding less aggressively during the daylight hours, but whatever the reason that is my observation and I hope the above outlook and advice help make your next fishing trip a success.