Summer Catfishing Tips from David Magness
By Phillip Gentry
B’n’M pro-staffer and Mississippi River catfish guide David Magness said catfishing during the summer months can have its challenges, particularly during the spawning season for blue catfish. Unlike other fish species that become a little easier to pattern and catch during the spawn, catfish are notorious for being hard to catch while procreating.
Always up for a good challenge, Magness doesn’t give up and had a few tips to help catfish anglers when the annual spawn was in full bloom, particularly on big waters like the Mississippi River.
When targeting smaller blues and channel catfish, target water in the 3 – 12-foot range where the juveniles are feeding heavily.
“When you get a bite from a male catfish, it will be a grab and smash before spitting the bait out, he said. “The bait will look like it’s been squeezed with a pair of pliers.”
“By mid-July, you can expect to catch those 30 – 50-pound males again but they’ll be in poor shape,” he said. “Those fish are long and skinny and look like they been beat up from spawning and wrassling with other males for dominant females.”
Spawning season is a good time to stock up on eating sized channels and blue catfish.
Magness said despite their condition, they may come off the spawn beat up but they are ready to eat and mad at the world. He said to expect some of the hardest bites and fights of the year with post spawn males.
“We turn back every fish over 12 pounds on my boat, but I like eating catfish as well as the next guy and these smaller blues and channels are some good eating,” he said. “It’s not so bad to take a break and restock the freezer or invite some friends over for some fellowship time.”
“If there’s an active grain bin loading onto barges somewhere, that’s gonna be a good bet for finding smaller cats,” he said. “They spill some of that grain during loading and the bottom will be covered in channels and small blues.”
If you’re after a trophy catfish when blue catfish are spawning, try targeting flathead catfish.
5 – Head Inland – Magness said he doesn’t do a lot of reservoir fishing for catfish, but the exception would be during the spawn. He said reservoirs seem to be a better fit for channel catfish and the blue catfish that are there seem to spawn earlier or get done quicker.
“A good way to locate catfish in a reservoir is by trolling, something I never get much chance to do in the river because of the current, but you can drag baits on the bottom in any catfish reservoir and you’ll find them pretty quick.”
6 – Don’t forget about Flatheads – If he’s after a trophy catfish in the river, Magness will target flathead catfish. He said the flatheads spawn in early May and are usually done before July 4th.
“Occasionally you can find them during the daylight, but to consistently catch good flathead catfish, you need to fish real early in the morning or the last hour or two before dark and of course you can fish at night when they’re the most active,” he said.
One thing to remember about flatheads is they love to move from deeper water into shallow water heavy cover like fallen trees or holes in a revetment bank at night. He’ll anchor up and throw live shad to them to get a bite.
“Real fresh cut bait will often work, but it seems the better fish just want something live and they’ll eat a really big bream or perch in a heartbeat if you can get some for bait,” he said.
To book a guided fishing trip with David Magness in the Tunica area, contact him by phone at 901-356-1008 or from his website at catnarounguideguideservice.com.
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