Crankin' Up Big Ole' Mr. Cat
Along about late summer the water temperature begins to resemble the air temperature and fishin' isn't usually as hot as the weather. However if your lookin' for some unexpected action try canvasing the shallows with a crankbait for some mighty big fish. It seems there is often an overlooked species that just lies in wait and can be as exciting as any to catch.
by Dennis Udlinek
This time of year the growing season for just about everything from field corn to fish fry is at its peak and the "closet king" of shallow water predators is just waiting around the next rock to smash any unsuspecting morsel that happens by. Who am I talking about? Mr. King Cat that's who! During this time of year when all kinds of small fry of everything from bass to bullheads are entering the height of their growth, big Cats' scour the shallows for some last month feeding before the fall winds blow in the snows of winter bringing cold water temperatures and scarce feed. What this means is that a fast moving morsel passing by some local hideouts of Ole' Mr. Cat could prove to be absolutely tasty for him and exhilarating for you if it's your bait he snatches up.
The best lure I have found in this situation has been the crankbait. For the past three seasons I have landed several 5 to 8 pound cats by using nothing more than a shallow or medium diving bait. Ranging anywhere from about two to four inches in length these erratic moving lures, which are largely used in bass fishing, sharply resemble the activities of the small fish that are carrying-on in the shallows during late summer days. All of this fun and frolic in the sun is only to be followed by huge catfish that take advantage of their unsuspecting prey.
I have found several bait patterns to be the best, mainly sticking to fish colored lures like baby bass or perch patterns and even some trout patterns work well. The pattern that works best for me when using shallow crankbaits is placing your boat in about ten feet of water on shorelines that are heavily covered with rock outcroppings or boulders, making sure to cast so the crankbait dredges it's way back to the boat. Usually this means casting parallel to the bank. Another note to take when using these lures as bottom dredgers is to periodically stop reeling, allowing the bait to suspend momentarily, this often brings about sudden strikes.
The fun comes when your working a stretch of rocky bank knowing that you are probably not going to catch a lot of fish, then all of a sudden you feel something slapping at your bait and the next thing you know it's headed for Texas! Until you've landed a huge cat on light line you haven't lived! What a tussle! Some people might try and tell you after you hook these predators of the bottom that all they do is twist their way back to the boat. Don't you believe it! Maybe a lesser, common 2-3 pound channel cat, but here we're talking big, ugly, and at this stage of the game there is no somersaults unless its in your stomach. What I mean to say is that when using light line your not always going to land these fish so the battle was shortened twice before I managed to get one to the boat that tipped the scales at eight pounds two ounces. What a fight!! These fish not only sing your favorite tune on the drag, they smash the lure, almost yanking your rod out of your hand in the process. Seems to me that a person could fish along-time trying to catch a fish this big and never get it done. But I can assure you, If you try this method, sooner or later your chance will come for "Crankin' up Big Ole' Mr. Cat".
The chances of landing a really big cat are pretty good in several lakes in Idaho. C.J. Strike Reservoir near Grandview, Idaho, and Brownlee Reservoir near Weiser, Idaho are both excellent choices.