Rock River channel cats
Spring has sprung! Finally. Today after work I stopped at a bridge about 10 minutes from the house. I had to wait for em but they finally started hitting. Caught 5, releasing a 10# fish. The rest were nice 2-4 lb eaters. They are bleeding out in the cooler as I type this. Interestingly, all of the fish bit in one very distinct spot, at the end of a big snag just below the bridge. Anything in the middle of the snag went untouched. They started biting about 5:30, and bit fast and furious til 6:15. All on Sonny's as usual.
Hit the usual mid-April spots (snags) and caught about 20 catfish. Nothing over 4 lb. I tried cut-bait, dead minnows, shrimp and Sonny's. Sonny's took every bite. I think it's because the fish were on the small side. I usually do much better on cut-bait at night in the summer holes. The river is a little high but in fine shape. Water temp 57. Gonna try to make it out there one more time before they spawn. Cheers.
On a side note, I was the only one that I could see fishing cats. Everybody else was chasing post-spawn eyes. I know that is not the case on other parts of the Rock, especially down in Illinois.
Managed one 5 lb male channel today on the Rock up here in cheesehead land. He hit on stink bait (Sonny's). I tried crawlers, minnows and redworms too. The only bites I got were on Sonny's. Water was 35 degrees. First time I ever caught a channel in water this cold. Hoping March is even warmer and I can tie into a few more. Got my only hookup in a classic spot. Deep quiet eddy with lots of shoreline structure and a gravelly flat nearby. Got lots of nibbles and only hooked up the one. The season has officially started!!
I am hoping to squeeze in one more flathead trip this Sunday (my only day off as per usual). It has been surprisingly warm the last few days which should have pushed the river temp up over the 60 degree mark. Now a few cold nights will drop it down, just hoping not too far down. I have some coworker friends who want to get in on the flattie action but they also only have one day off and plans with significant others. Gonna be me and the dog again. I will post a report with pics if I do get out. The die-hard walleye jiggers focus on the mouth of Koshkonong so I usually have the stretch I fish all to myself.
Vacations over and its back to work today. My October has been wonderful as its tied with July for 2nd stat wise and with a few good days could dethrone September for the best month. I would have scoffed at this possibility decades ago.
I'm really happy with this because July was very predictable and stable. October not so. What was working one day would prove to be almost worthless the next day. The fish were on the move and aggressive. The good thing was they would eat just about anything.
Disappointedly, August was a disaster. The Rock is saturated with tournaments at that time of year so I would normally shift to the Mississippi. Mother Nature basically had the Mississippi shut down with high water this year so I tried to form a schedule on the Rock to avoid the tournaments. I failed miserably. Every boat ramp I went to August had one going on. By the end of the month, I was ready to sell boat and give up. The catfish scene on the Rock is starting to resemble the bass fishing on the Mississippi. The fishery is dictated by a small group of tournament fishermen.
We made it down to 35 degrees last night so I'll have to see if this starts to kick the fish into more of a fall mode. I've been sitting in 4-6 feet of water above the rock bars and catching 2 to 3 at each one. Mostly on the local's cheesebait. My blood bait is still getting some. Surprisingly, they won't touch shad yet, and the smallmouth haven't gone on the crankbait feeding frenzy either.
The catfish must taste better in the upper Rock. I tried to eat some a decade ago and they were horrible. An occasional cat from pool 13 on the Mississippi is about the only catfish I eat any more.
Gonna try to find areas with current. Pretty much rules out the entire stretch I fish. Perhaps in town (Ft Atkinson). Just below the Main Street Bridge there is a bit more current though not very deep. I suspect it is no more than 5 feet at the deepest. The dam at Jefferson is good but not big enough to get a 16' deep vee up to. Kind of a shore spot that gets heavy pressure. I wonder if there are any rapids down by Janesville?
I will draw on my Mississippi experiences, since the Rock down here has rapids and plenty of current even during low water.
The fish will move to current. The bass and panfish will vacate the backwaters and head out to flowing sloughs. Catfish and Walleye will stack up in narrow and rock bottomed areas with faster currents. There aren't many of these spots and they are often rather subtle. I had a guy in the boat get 29 cats in 29 casts in 89 minutes under these conditions last August fishing a small rocky channel edge.
OK fellas I am struggling. My last few trips to the Rock River have been awful at best. All the spots that normally produce for me are dead. I always use Sonny's and I always caught fish in these spots. It really went downhill 2 years ago when it got really hot for a week and the river temp got above 90 degrees. The fishing just hasn't been the same since. I usually try snags first, then the deeper holes in bends. There is very little current and the water temp is about 80 degrees now. If I fish with live bait all I catch are drum. It's an hour drive and the fishing closer to my house for other species has been stellar. What gives??? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.