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A Face Only a Mother Could Love

By: Mark Romanack

A channel catfish has a face only a mother could love, but these abundant fish fight hard and are a lot of fun to catch.

​ At Fishing 411 we enjoy catching a kinds of different fish. Most of our television efforts are centered on the popular species because those are the videos the masses want to watch. That’s a business decision, clear and simple. The fact we rarely do TV shows focusing on less popular species doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy catching those “less glamorous” members of the fish community.

​ A lot of the fish we enjoy catching would not rake highly on a popularity scale, but the way we look at it, a tug on the end of the line is a good thing. That goes double if you have young anglers in your boat who are looking for action, regardless of the species.


​Depending on where you live, catfish may be your favorite species or that darned fish that gets in the way of catching your target species. I personally enjoy catching catfish because they are abundant and fight hard. When my boys were young, I’d take them to the Saginaw River, near Bay City, Michigan in the spring time so they could hone their jig fishing skills by catching channel cats until their arms were sore! We have some great family memories of those purely for fun fishing trips.

​ Catfish can also be readily caught by slow trolling live minnow or cut-bait rigs upstream in sluggish rivers. Just about every river that has some color to the water is likely a catfishing hotspot  waiting to be discovered. Try using Snap Weights to get your rigs to depth and in-line planer boards like the Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer to spread out your trolling lines. A bow mounted electric motor of a small gasoline outboard are the best ways to troll upstream just fast enough to make some headway against the current.


​ For those anglers who literally want to catch a fish on every cast, might I suggest a visit to the Detroit River in May and June when the annual white bass run is in full swing. Countless of these spunky panfish pour into the river where they spawn along seawalls and rocky shorelines.

White bass like these grow to some impressive sizes and they often are found in enormous schools. Literally a fish on every cast is something that happens regularly when targeting white bass.

White bass can be caught casting any number of small lures. A 1/4 ounce jig dressed with an three inch action-tail grub is probably the most common way that anglers put the smack down on white bass. The beauty of this lure is it only features one hook, which makes it faster and easier to unhook fish and drop them back in the river or into an ice chest.

​ In-line spinners like the famous Rooster Tail Spinner from Yakima Bait are also deadly effective when it comes to catching white bass. Simply cast them out, let them sink for a few seconds and then retrieve them back to the boat or your location on the bank. The flash and vibration of that rotating blade is something no white bass can ignore.


​ The poor sheepshead is the Rodney Dangerfield of fish. No one it seems has anything good to say about the lowly sheepshead or drum. Clearly drum aren’t the best eating fish, but they sure do fight and can be found in staggering numbers.

​ Again, slow flowing rivers are my favorite places to target drum. Jigging near the bottom using about half a nightcrawler as bait is not only a simple presentation, it’s amazingly effective. Besides catching more drum than you can count, you’re going to catch a lot of other species with the simple jig/worm rig.


​ The rock bass is one of those species that hangs out with more popular fish like bluegill and crappie. Just about every natural lake north of the Mason Dixon Line has catchable populations of rock bass.

​ Rock bass are very much like crappie in that they really like to hang out near submerged cover such as flooded timber, docks, dive platforms, seawalls and fast sloping breadlines. Once you find them, chances are you’ll catch all you want because few panfish are more aggressive then the rock bass.

​ A 1/8 to 1/4 ounce jig tipped with half a nightcrawler is a good place to start when targeting these members of the panfish family. Rock bass are also commonly caught on perch rigs baited with worms, small minnows and even wax worms.


​ In this part of the country, there are several species of suckers that are always willing to bite. The white and red horse suckers are the most common. Both of these bottom dwellers will bite readily on live bait fished near bottom. Most anglers use red worms or nightcrawler as bait, but small minnows and mayfly nymphs (wigglers) also work very well.

​ Suckers are the most easy to find in the spring of the year when they run tributary streams and creeks to spawn. Often the deeper holes will literally fill up with hundreds of suckers.

​ A slip sinker rig with an 18-24 inch leader and single No. 4 hook is all it takes to catch suckers. While suckers don’t rate very high as table fare,  consider keeping some to plant in your vegetable garden as fertilizer.


​ As fishermen we all dream of catching the glory species. Sometimes however, just catching fish of any species is what the doctor ordered. Instead of turning up your nose at less desirable fish, consider grabbing a kid or two and making a day of it fishing just for fun.


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