The Eric Altemus Catfish Tournament is tomorrow June 3rd, 2017. I am not fishing the tournament this year but if I was this is what I would do… The first thing I would do is get the freshest bait possible. Often times I cast net my own but on tournament day I want to spend my time fishing not catching bait. Sarge’s has fresh Gizzard Shad in stock for the tournament, these fish were swimming this morning. That’s pretty fresh! They are the natural prey for big catfish. I would look along channel edges with hard bottoms and good current moving. After finding a likely spot I will anchor the boat (out of the Channel) and drift my baits back to the deep water. Remember, these Big Cats are predator fish that can eat some very large baits. I prefer to “Chunk” my baits, using steaks as opposed to fillets or strips. I use a short leader and just enough weight to hold bottom on a “Fish Finder” rig. When held in the current the bait should not spin but rather lay flat and natural looking. The baits are best fished on 8/0 Circle hooks, when the fish “Run Off” with the bait calmly pick up the rod and start reeling to set the hook. This is good for the fish and the fishermen as most of the fish are hooked right in the side of the mouth. Easy to unhook and get back to fishing. I would deploy as many baits as possible, some a short distance from the boat, some long… keep the baits separated by distance to avoid tangles. All the parts and pieces get tossed overboard on a regular basis to draw the fish to the boat. This would be my my approach. Every fisherman I know has their own way to fish Catfish… if it works for you by all means keep doing it. If you want to catch bigger Catfish try chunking with fresh Gizzard Shad… Stripers like them ,too!
Above, Lisa Doricchi and I while fishing the tournament a few years ago… This old Channel Cat weighed in a over 13lbs… This one below with Timothy Smith was just over 12 lbs… in last years event. These fish were caught Chunking Bunker and Gizzard Shad.
Good luck to all fishing the tournament tomorrow, be safe and enjoy this event. I hope to see you in the shop or on the water!