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Red River Report by Backwater Eddy-June 14th 2002


<,,><...Red River...><,,>

Catfish anglers will find the fishing on the Red River basin river systems on a definite upswing in the upcoming days. BUT then it will go very slow very quickly due to the spawn. Water temps have crept into the low 70s producing a much more aggressive bite then in the past few weeks.

Structure will prove to be key in finding the SUMO sized Red River piggys in the next few weeks. Structure is always key in channel catfishing but much more so as the cats work their way into spawn mode. Structure such as snags and lay downs or riprap rock runs will prove to hold larger channel cats as well as numbers. They are feeding and also hunting for spawning sites to stake a claim for days to come.

The spawn would likely be in full swing once the water temperature reach and sustains a 72 in the tributaries and the bulk of the Red River. Best guess is the spawn will occur sometime in the last 2 weeks of June to the first week in July. Catfishing once the spawn is rolling becomes notoriously tough and slow but not impossible.

Channel catfish tracking studies have shown this time frame generally holds true in the upper Midwest. Catfish in the upper Midwest and Canada have been known to spawn at water temperatures as low as 65-72 far lower a temp range then their southern cousins prefer 74-80. This regional shift is thought to be an adaptation developed over time by the northern channel catfish to insure a better hatch in direct response to the shorter growing season in the north.

Spawn can last from 11 to 14 days but often spawning groups shift in and out in staggered waves depending of the temperature gradient. The male channel catfish will seek out a suitable site either a cave in a bank or a indentation in the river bottom and enlarge it to his needs as he thinks fit. Now he will lure a female channel catfish in the nesting site in order for her to deposit her eggs and for him to fertilize the egg mass. Immediately after the actual fertilization and deposit of the egg mass she leaves the male to guard the nest tell the brood hatches. He will not feed at this time but will aggressively defend the nest site if need be. Opinions do vary on if the male catfish guards the brood for longer then the actual hatch will take. Some think they may escort the brood ball around for a week after the spawn to protect them, this guarding behavior has been occasionally observed so it may be valid? Catfish are very adaptable and resourceful as well as adaptable critters and this is why they are so prolific an abundant throughout the world.

Overall in the days to come fresh cut goldeye will be hard to beat for bait. As the spawn nears you may need more hog calling power to get the fish to cooperate. A more powerful scent based bait system such as CaTTracker's paste or dip bait or a bait enhancement additive such as Cattracker Magic bait additive will fill this need very well. Fish tightly to structure or just off the channel edge of the structural element and you will find cats. Move often and cover a lot of river if possible. Mobility will prove to be a great asset and up you catch dramatically.

Please do not use treble hooks for catfish as they are far too damaging on fish. Consider using a quality hook like a GAMAKATSU octopus wide gap offset circle hook style as an effective and highly productive tool for cats. Circle hooks are less damaging to catfish and once you get on to the system they are highly effective.

Good luck & good fishing to all!

Ed Carlson 
Backwater Guiding

"ED on the RED"