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You can catch catfish in these murky waters

July 24, 2005|By BILL ANDERSON

The recent flurry of storms has many rivers and streams running a little murky. Bass and many other gamefish are primarily sight feeders so dirty waters aren't helpful.

However, off-colored waters create another opportunity - fishing for channel catfish

E-mail from friends in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia all confirm that catfish are on the feed, and the action is excellent on a variety of baits. Another interesting point is that the catfishing has remained good during the daylight hours. A more typical mid-summer pattern would be a move to night fishing.

Catfishing is a great sport. The tackle requirements are minimal, so you can enjoy some good fishing opportunities with only the most basic equipment. The average fish in our area will be between 2 and 6 pounds so medium-weight tackle is perfect. Unless you are fishing areas with lots of brush or other underwater obstructions, you can get by with line in the 10- to 15-pound test range.

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Baits are always a major topic when it comes to catfishing. Over the years, I have tried a lot of them, ranging from the commercial baits made of who knows what to natural baits. The commercial baits seem to work at times, but all of the really good catfishermen I have met and fished with use natural baits.

During this mid-summer period, I think that the emphasis should be on natural baits. One of the best baits during periods of rainy weather are plain old nightcrawlers. During hard rains, nightcrawlers often end up in the river and are a favorite food. Other natural baits for high water periods include cutbait - chunks of fallfish, suckers or creek chubs - and live minnows.

As most know, one very popular and easy to obtain bait is fresh chicken livers, and they also work well when the river level is up.

When fishing during periods of high flows and discolored waters, it is important to find the right spots that will concentrate fish. The best spots usually feature current edges. An edge is the transition area where eddy areas meet the main river current. Edge areas are created by natural obstructions such as rock ledges or cutout areas in the banks of a stream or river. Just about all of the river gamefish prefer to feed in areas where the river currents deliver food to them, but they will also want to be out of the main river currents.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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