Seven essential river pike tips

Underwater-Pike

Leading predator angler Dean Brook reveals how he targets the biggest fish on the river…

Underwater-Pike

#1 UNDERSTAND THE VENUE

Rivers are wild, constantly changing entities, so you need to take the time to learn the stretch you are targeting to get the most out of your pike fishing. Ideally, walk the river prior to the season, when the river is low and clear so areas of deeper and shallow water are more easily identifiable.

This reconnaissance also enables you to check out areas of weed or even snags.

Take in the geographical nature of the land. The steeper the sides of the surrounding land, the quicker the river will flood during rain. Plus, the lower-lying rivers also tend to stay in flood for longer. All of these things will affect how the river fishes.

#2 KEEP MOBILE

Once you have sussed a length of waterway, it is always best to keep mobile.

I often cover a couple of miles or more in a single session. This means keeping your kit to a minimum but the more water you are able to cover, the more chances you will have of offering bait to a feeding fish.

#3 GEAR UP!

On rivers, particularly strong, powerful waterways such as the Wharfe, Swale, or Wye, the pike have built up a great deal of muscle mass as they are used to fighting the flow.

So, to ensure you are able to land every one you hook, step up your gear up accordingly. I use either 20lb mono or, ideally, braid. I also use 28lb wire for my trace. River fish are not as pressured as stillwater fish. They are not put off by tackle, so why risk losing them because your gear is too light.

#4 EARLY AND LATE

Low, clear rivers can be the kiss of death when targeting pike because their confidence and cover are blown. This means that especially on days when the sun is bright, either early or late starts are the name of the game. I have lost count of the number of decent-size pike I have caught over the years, fishing at either dawn or dusk.

#5 PREBAIT

It sounds time-consuming, but never underestimate the power of prebaiting. The Wharfe where I fish is a big river, and experience has shown that the pike on this type of watercourse are extremely migratory.

By getting the fish used to feeding in a certain area, you can start to either hold them there or intercept them as they are travelling in search of food. No river pike, especially one of the ‘big girls’, is going to turn their nose up at a free meal!

#6 TWITCH

I always use float rigs on the river. Floats are better at giving you early indications that a fish has possibly picked up the bait.

To induce a bite, I often give the reel a couple of turns to twitch the rigs back to the bank. This can act like a trigger to a fish that is in two minds whether to take the bait, as it thinks its dinner is getting away.

#7 ON THE RISE

Often the best time to fish a river for pike is when the water is rising. The prey fish become very active and they need to continually adjust their position in the river due to the ever-changing current speeds.

This leaves them wide open to attack from a predator as they are forced to search refuge from the flood.

Conversely, once the river is in flood, the pike fishing will be next to useless due to the extra colour in the water. You will now have to wait until the flow ebbs and the colour once again drops out before the pike will feed confidently.

On the plus side, if it floods for a while, the fish will be ravenous when the waters do eventually start to go down.

source: anglingtimes.co.uk

List of Top 10 Most Expensive Fishing Lures in the World

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Fishing lures are artificial fishing bait which is designed to attract and gain the attention of fishes. It can perform different movements, flash, vibration and provide different colors to gain their attention. These fishing lures are enhanced with hooks which are used to catch the fishes. It comes in different styles and shapes which are available commercially in the market. They can be easily handled by hand and guidelines are also provided to use them.

These first ever fishing lures was introduced in the market in 2006 at some show which has made headlines because of it’s luxurious and expensive material as it was studded with diamonds and other materials. Different varieties of fishing lures are available in the market at different prices, but the real fishing lovers are willing to purchase them. There are different attractive designs available for fishing lures which can make the life of the person more luxurious and attractive for others because fishing is quite an amazing hobby to be adopted by any person.
The following are top 10 best fishing lures available in the market for the fish lovers of the world:

10. Jarmo Collectible Lure Balsa Minnow:

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Jarmo Collectible is a fishing lure which is made in Finland and is sold at the price of $100. Its name is quite famous among the people and is handmade lure which is enhanced with scales and also comes with almost 14 layers of lacquer and paint. It has gone through different tunes and tests and is autographed by them. It is presented in the special wooden box to maintain its luxury. It comes with 3 hooks to catch the fishes.

9. Black Bart Heavy Breakfast Lures Offshore Trolling Lure:

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It is very high-speed trolling lure which is mainly used for marlin fishing and is owned by the person called Capt, Bart Miller. It provides little slow fishing but is quite an entertaining piece to be used in fishing. It has many interesting movements which can indulge the user for the whole day in it. The price of this fishing lure is $105 and is quite colorful which looks amazing and attractive for the fishes.

8. Mann`s Giganticus 50+ Deep Diver:

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It is special fishing lure which completely describes how these monsters dive in the water which can go up to 50 feet, and the makers said that its weight is almost 600 pounds. The total length of this lure is 16 inches and is quite an effective one. The price of this amazing fishing lure is almost $112 and is available in a large number of colors.

7. Native Works Napalm 250mm Popper:

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Native Works napalm is the amazing lure which is made in 10 inches of length and is beautifully handcrafted which is made by the amazing lure manufacturer of Japan in the whole world. Its action is considered as purely insane and is given the title of a more famous fishing lure in the whole world. The price of this lure is $117 which is much affordable one. It is made in colors which are blue and silver and has little shine in it which completely looks like a real fish.

6. Big Reidee Slant Face Offshore Trolling Lure:

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Big Reidee is the fishing lure which is made with special care and its each piece is made individually and is made in limited quantity as well. It is made in length of total 9 inches and is sold the at the price of $125 which is not very expensive. It is very colorful lure which has different colors in it and completely given the look of a fish. It features different colors in it which has metal hook as well.

5. Lucky Lures ESOX Adult Northern Hard Swimbait:

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Lucky Lure ESOX is the fishing lure which is made in Holland and is made of the total length of 14 inches. It is made with pre-resin and also painted perfectly which cannot be replaced till it damages. Each piece of this lure is tested and signed by the professionals about its efficiency. The price of this fishing lure is almost $134 and looks like a real fish because of its color and the patches on the skin.

4. ABT Lures Custom Serious Suicide Glide 12 Gilding Swimbait:

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Lure is basically a customized fishing lure which was designed for the Southern California`s Businessman. It was sold at the price of $135 because of the precious materials used in its making. It is made in silver color which is a quite shiny one and is given the whole look of real fish. It has two side hooks with it for catching the fishes easily from water.

3. Deps Slide Swimmer 250 Swimbait:

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Deps Slide swimmer 250 is the fishing lure which comes with the total length of 10 inches and is designed in Japan and is little expensive one. It is very silent one which is swims in water and is sold at the price of $180. It has hard poly body because of the soft plastic used in it and completely looks real one. It is made of hard material in green color to give it much real touch as a whole.

2. Hammerhead C Cup SUS Abalone Special Popper:

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Hammerhead C Cup SUS is the fishing lure which is made in total 6 inches and is sold at the high price of $190. It is also designed and made in Japan and is enhanced with amazing style and finish. It is made in very limited stock which is very rare in the whole world and difficult to find in the market. It is made with different colors to make it look attractive and also enhanced with a large eye similar to the eye of a fish.

1. Gan Craft Jointed Claw Magnum 300 Swimbait:

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Gan Craft Jointed Claw is the fishing lure which has the total length of 12 inches and is designed to swim perfectly. The manufacturer of this lure claims that it is an amazing one which never existed before than this one. The price of this lure is $249 which is still affordable to get the best fishing lure for you.

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Conclusion:

The above ranking of top 10 most expensive fishing lures in the world is given according to the prices of these lures in the market. These fishing lures are completely given the shape and color of real fishes to attract them and are also enhanced with hooks to catch the fishes easily in the water.
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All Time Secret Catfish Baits

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Much mystery surrounds the sport of catfishing, particularly as it pertains to alleged “secret baits.” The truth is catfish have been guilty of gobbling up some pretty oddball stuff. Ironically, it doesn’t get much more bizarre than dipbait—a gooey, aromatically offensive paste that gloms onto hooks like mud on a hog. And yet, this is considered a mainstream catfish bait—has been for years. Interestingly, although anglers (and all humans) often confuse olfaction (scent) with taste, the reality is that catfish don’t particularly use scent for feeding. Rather, they mainly rely on barbels and taste buds throughout their bodies to sample flavors of critters and objects in the water. Moreover, things that smell intensely to us may not exhibit the same aromas to fish underwater.
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From an artificial (manufactured or grocery store) bait perspective, we really don’t know what exact flavors catfish prefer. Could be they actually crave sweet, fruity flavors over rotten cheese or meaty chicken liver. And like other fish, a catfish’s preferences certainly change from season to season, water to water. All of which points to the fact that catfish mostly eat what’s abundant; what they’re used to eating on a daily basis: skipjack herring, carp and shad in big rivers and southern impoundments, goldeye and suckers in smaller Midwestern streams, sunfish in a pond, American Shad, herring or blue crab in Eastern tidal rivers.

Exceptions always exist, of course. Certain baits can be called ‘overlooked,’ if not exactly secret—even though certain anglers might have you believe otherwise. (I’ve spoken with a pond fishing expert who claims the best bait of all is cow manure, so who am I to say?)

Boilies
In recent years American carp anglers have discovered, unintentionally, that European style “boilies” produce amazing numbers of small and medium sized cats. A hardened, flavored dough bait that’s traditionally set on a hair rig, boilies withstand the constant pecking by smaller fish, and can hold up to multiple fish without coming un-hooked.

Guides targeting giant carp and buffalo in waters like Lake Fork, Texas, commonly catch so many catfish on boilies that they often have to move to different spots to catch carp. Similar catches have happened on urban rivers in the Upper Midwest, and heavy trafficked lakes and ponds in the Northeast.

The remarkable thing is that while most manufactured baits carry off-putting odors, which folks assume catfish prefer, the best boilie flavors are those with sweet-smelling fruit extracts—plum, strawberry and even nutty varieties often produce best. The other side benefit of boilies is that they are super clean to handle, leaving little mess and no stinky residue on your hands. Expect to see some new catfish specific boilies from manufacturers in the not-too-distant future.

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Sonny’s Super Sticky
For more years than most cat-folks can remember, Sonny’s Super Sticky Dip Bait has remained the standard stinkbait recipe—not that anyone outside the Hootman clan knows exactly what’s in it. Which is just as old Sonny prefers it. All that matters is, catfish eat a ton of the stuff. It’s indeed doubtful that anyone else on earth has brewed or sold a greater abundance of dipbait than Hootman. The famous plain-label jars are so inconspicuous on the shelves that they actually stand out from the masses, if that makes any sense. Certainly, they outsell other brands every year, especially amid recent rumors that production is slowing down and that the popular bait has suddenly become difficult to obtain.

Like other fine dipbaits on the market, such as Rippin Lips Bootleg and Junnie’s Wicked Sticky, Sonny’s bait works best when applied to either a plastic dipworm or a thicker style dipping sponge. The StickWorm by Junnie’s CatTracker is an effective dipworm, while Bowkers Sponges are also good holders of dipbait. Sonny’s original flavor remains most popular, while the “bloodied” formula often produces best in the heat of summer.

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Marinated Cutbait
Top-level tournament anglers keep this one under their hats. For “juicing up” cutbaits or recharging used baits, fishermen employ a marinating container or cooler, filling it with an amino acid based scent product and pre-cut baitfish. Rippin Lips’ Scent Trail and Team Catfish Dead Red Blood are two popular formulas, both imbued with fish oil and blood.

For smaller baits, a Plano Liqua-Bait Locker is perfect. Pro angler John Jamison uses a Keep Kool bait cooler for large cutbaits, which has an outer ice chamber for chilling baits without soaking them in melting ice. The inner chamber can be filled with bait and scent. Prior to fishing, Jamison often pre-cuts several large skipjack or an Asian carp, and adds them to the Keep Kool, along with a bottle or two of Scent Trail. He lets his baits soak for up to an hour before fishing. If you’re running low on bait, you can also recharge used baits by marinating them for several minutes.

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Raisins
The real reason behind the traditional midsummer use of raisins on setlines is a little more “interesting” than meets the eye. It’s true that raisins—particularly the golden variety—can be attractive to smaller blue cats and channel cats. When you put them onto a hook, they absorb water and swell in size, apparently giving off a fermented odor that attracts fish of many species.

That said, a well-known blue cat guide in the Southeastern U.S. once told me about the practice of trotlining with raisins, for a different reason. Apparently, the goal among certain setliners is to use raisins to attract and hook smaller fish—sunfish, small catfish, bullheads and other bait-sized fish—which in turn attract much larger flathead and blue cats. So by using raisins, these commercial fishermen save time, money and the effort of setting lines with livebait. Rumor has it that several 100-pound plus cats have been landed with this ambiguous method.

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Cut Cisco
First discovered this one years ago while scrounging through the freezer for catfish bait. Seems I had a bag of frozen ciscoes left over from a winter of fishing for pike through the ice. So why not try them for catfish? Turns out, blue and channel cats eat these oily, protein-rich baitfish like an irresistible meal. Although catfish rarely coexist with this species, which mostly resides in natural lakes in the northern U.S. and Canada, they apparently recognize it as something highly worthy of a bite. Since then, I’ve made it a point to put up a stash of cisco each winter—or buy it at the local fishmonger, when available.

In side-by-side test fishing with cut sucker, goldeye, and shad, cisco typically gets bit far more often than the more familiar—and often, native—species. Because cisco is so oily, it requires a bit more care when freezing it than other species. When we catch 1 to 2 pound specimens in winter (through the ice), we freeze whole ciscoes, one or two per ziplock bag, removing all air with a vacuum sealer of some sort. (I use the manual Zip-Vac system and bags.) Freezer burn renders ciscoes much less effective and less firm, and exponentially less appealing to catfish.

For fishing, it’s best to slowly thaw bags of ciscoes in a cooler or a refrigerator over 24 hours prior to hitting the water. Cut whole ciscoes into approximately 2-inch by 3-inch “steaks.” If a bigger bait is desired, fillet whole sides of a cisco, or cut accordingly to match the situation. Likewise, anglers on the West Coast has discovered the amazing appeal of mackerel—an equally oily saltwater species that can either be caught with a hook and line or purchased in a store.

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Leopard Frogs
Around about August, catfish anglers near the Red River of the North go on a serious quest for frogs. Something about this late summer period that draws legions of leopard frogs to the banks of the river, where the Red’s population of monster channel cats find them a rather tasty snack. Wise frog hunters search grassy ditches and vegetated rims of ponds and rivers for these little devils, typically scooping them up with a hoop net. The quickest froggers use their hands, but the speediness of these native frogs present a real challenge, which can be nearly as fun as catching catfish with them.

Of course, the frog bite is hardly confined to the Red River. Throughout the entire Upper Midwest, Great Plains and east to New England, the late summer to early fall phase heralds tremendous amphibian fishing. In the south, species such as the Green Frog, Wood Frog and Southern Leopard Frog can yield equally awesome action. Some days, cats still bite best on cut baitfish, but when the fish want frogs, you best have a supply on hand, because the action can be furious.

Most anglers thump a frog first to knock him out, and then simply slip a 1/0 to 3/0 octopus or circle hook through the bottom and upper lip. You can employ the same sort of standard rigging—slip sinker rig, plain jighead or beneath a slip float—you use with cutbait. Cast Kermit into current breaks and alongside brushpiles for some crazy catfish action.

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Read more: http://www.in-fisherman.com/catfish/all-time-secret-catfish-baits/#ixzz4G02qiKFw

Tackle Hacks: 10 Mods That Will Take Your Rods, Reels, and Lures to the Next Level

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Skill Level: Basic
Cost: $3–$8
Having a good grip on your rod can make or break a fish fight, especially when you’re fishing for big species like salmon or muskies. Even if the rod’s handle is tucked under your arm, the less it slips and moves, the more control you maintain.

To increase that grip, try wrapping your handle hockey stick–style. Start with a spool of cloth stick tape, available at sporting-goods stores. Make a few wraps around the butt of the rod, unwind about a foot of tape, and spin the spool to create a thin tape rope. Wrap that rope in inch-wide spirals around the handle toward the reel. Next, wrap the tape flat back down the handle toward the butt, covering the thin rope.

Not only does this wrapping style boost your grip as you hold the rod; it’s extra protection against the rod’s slipping out of a holder on the troll.

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Skill Level: Basic
Cost: $8–$12
Remember the days when grandpa greased his reels with petroleum jelly or machine oil? Those do-it-all household lubes are old school to today’s reel technicians. Products such as Reel Saver (mil-comm.com) and Xtreme Reel Plus (xtremelubricants.com) feature micro-polymers and have high tolerances for heat and cold. They won’t gunk up inside the reel, and their densities are scientifically engineered to be just right for reducing friction without slowing down gear action. But most important, as much as they lubricate, these new oils protect internal parts from corrosion. So besides increasing performance, they’ll extend reel life considerably.

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Skill Level: High
Cost: $15–$20 D.I.Y.; $50–$80 for professional installment
Ask a custom rod builder about common requests they receive, and one will be using a gathering guide wider than one typically used on stock rods. The gathering guide—the guide closest to the reel on a spinning rod—allows line to peel off the reel smoothly during the cast and feed back on the spool evenly during the retrieve.

A wide gathering guide offers several benefits: It will increase both casting accuracy and distance by giving the line more freedom of flow during the cast, and will let you feather the line more effectively when you need to put a frog between two pads. During the retrieve, a wider gathering guide can reduce kinking and memory by adding more tension to the line as it winds back onto the reel.

With a wider gathering guide, you also will be able to use a reel with a wider spool on a lighter rod. That means you can increase your line capacity without the need to downsize line strength and lure weight. And you’ll be able to use a lighter outfit for bigger fish.

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Trim your plastics for more hookups.

1. Miniskirt:
One solution to bass tapping at a spinnerbait without connecting is to add a trailer hook. That’s fine for open water but can result in more snags around structure. Instead, trim the skirt so it hangs evenly with the hook bend.

2. Leg Shave:
Sometimes bass grab the skirt legs of a hollow-body frog lure and miss the hook. Trimming legs back even 1⁄2 inch can reduce short strikes and actually give frogs a smoother side-to-side glide when “walking the dog.”

3. Back Seat:
How many times have you reeled up a curly-tailed grub with the curly tail bitten off? Solve this by cutting away a portion of the front so the hook sits just in front of the tail. Cut back a soft-plastic shad for the same hook placement.

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Skill Level: Basic
Cost: $6–$10
You’ve probably walked by Plasti Dip (plastidip.com) in the hardware store a hundred times, but the liquid rubber has great tackle applications. Use it to coat the end of your reel handle for added grip when burning spinnerbaits or aggressively twitching jerkbaits. Your fingers won’t slip off from rain, sweat, or fish slime. You can also coat the front of your spinning reel’s drag cap for easier adjustment.

To increase grip even more, pour the amount you need for coverage into a separate container and mix in some fine sand.

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Hammer largemouths and smallmouths with these tricks:

1. Heavy Head:
Make a wacky-rigged worm or Senko even wackier by inserting a small finishing nail into the head of the bait. The soft plastic will flail more erratically.

2. Backdrop:
Push a nail into a soft-plastic shad’s back just forward of the tail and run a plain hook through the nose. The lure will drop back when you pause the retrieve.

3. Craw Sticker:
Insert a finishing nail in the tail of a soft-plastic crawfish and hook the bait through the head. The nail keeps bait and hook at a better fish-hooking angle.

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Skill Level: Basic
Cost: $0 if you own components; $100–$400 if you buy components
Putting a spinning reel on a fly rod might not seem to make much sense unless you understand the intricacies of presenting tiny jigs and spinners on small streams full of easily spooked trout. The whippy tip makes it possible to toss light lures farther and with more accuracy than a short spinning rod. Likewise, the length allows you to fish tight seams and eddies without casting at all. When a trout strikes, the longer, softer rod lets you maneuver it around rocks and overhanging limbs more delicately. Some steelhead anglers customize such outfits further by fitting fly rods with large gathering guides and spinning-reel seats; for small streams, those tweaks aren’t necessary. Ultralight or ice-fishing reels will fit the seats of most 3- to 5-weight fly rods. If you prefer a longer grip, tape the reel in place farther up on the rod’s handle.

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Skill Level: Moderate
Cost: $0
Pro bass anglers rarely, if ever, trip the bail on their spinning reels by turning the handle. That’s because closing the bail with the handle can spin a little slack line onto the spool, which can lead to twisting. The bail is also the part of a spinning reel that fails most often. To prevent knots and malfunction, unscrew the side plate that houses the internal bail gears and remove the spring. Some reels require the removal of small bail-tripping mechanisms as well, but on many models, ditching the spring will suffice. A manual bail forces you to close it by hand, letting you keep tension on the line by flipping it as soon as your bait or lure splashes down. Mikesreelrepair.com has an extensive catalog of free reel schematics that can help you remove the correct parts.

10 Biggest Muskie World Records Ever Caught

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In the world of freshwater fishing, few fish are as highly sought after and revered as the muskellunge (Esox masquinongy).

Their explosive strikes, rugged fights and intimidating dentition have allured anglers for years—resulting in an enormous and faithful following of muskie anglers who all share the common goal of catching the biggest muskie ever.

Listed in the gallery below are 10 anglers who met that goal and earned International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) world records on muskie.

However, as this article illustrates more than once, you never know when your opportunity at a record muskie will present itself.

Dr. Mark E. Carlson

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One of the best places in the world to target trophy muskies is Canada’s famed St. Lawrence River system, where the fish seem to consistently grow to enormous sizes.

Dr. Mark E. Carlson experienced this first hand on December 4, 2013, when he became connected to an exceptionally large specimen while trolling a Legend Perch plug. Even with the heavy tackle he was using, Carlson needed nearly 20 minutes to boat the impressive animal, which measured out to 132 centimeters before being released alive—easily earning him the new All-Tackle Length record.

Before being released back into the chilly St. Lawrence, Carlson’s fish was tagged for a study being conducted by the Canadian government to learn more about these important predators.

Lalie Tronel-Peyroz

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Canadian angler Lalie Tronel-Peyroz was trolling a Depth Raider in the St. Lawrence River, Canada, on November 21, 2011, when she hooked into something big.

After a grueling 15-minute battle, the young angler boated this 18.63-kilograms (41 pound, 1 ounce) muskellunge. After snapping a few shots with her new Female Junior record musky, the toothy fish was released alive back into the chilly St. Lawrence River.

Lalie’s impressive musky shattered the previous record which stood at 12.92 kilograms (28 pounds, 8 ounces).

Joe Seeberger

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Joe Seeberger needed nearly two hours to land a 26.31-kilogram (58 pound, 0 ounces) musky—only 9 pounds off the All-Tackle record—that earned him the 4-kilogram (8 pound) line class record.

Seeberger was slow trolling a live sucker minnow in Lake Bellaire, Michigan on October 13, 2012, when the muskie hit. In its history, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has only received three muskies heavier than Seeberger’s catch, which replaced the previous record that stood for 15 years.

Aside from being the fourth heaviest musky on file at the IGFA, Seeberger also holds the record for the longest fight time of any muskie ever submitted to the IGFA.

Kenneth O’brien

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The third heaviest muskie ever recorded by the IGFA is Kenneth O’Brien’s 29.48- kilogram (65-pound) beast that he caught on October 16, 1988, while fishing Blackstone Harbor, near his home town in Ontario, Canada.
Contrary to the popular belief that big muskies are caught on big baits, O’Brien’s fish ate a tiny 4-inch Rapala lure! Once hooked up, O’Brien fought the fish for 15 minutes from the 14-foot aluminum boat he and his two friends had rented for the day.

Although he was using Berkley Trilene rated at 4 kilograms (8 pounds), O’Brien’s record was placed in the 6-kilogram (12-pound) class due to the line testing high.
Regardless, of the tackle used, this is an extremely impressive catch that is likely to stand for years to come.

Gene Borucki

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Six minutes. That’s all the time it took for angler Gene Borucki to land his world muskie that went on to earn him the men’s 15-kilogram (30-pound) line class world record—a record that has stood for 30 years.

Borucki, who was visiting Canada from his home in Illinois, hooked the record muskie while trolling a Rapala in Ontario’s Manitou Lake on August 30, 1984. The biggest problem Borucki encountered with this fish was finding a scale big enough to weigh it! In fact, the “Monster of the Manitou” (as the fish has been subsequently named) wasn’t officially weighed until two days later, when it tipped the scales at a whopping 25.6 kilograms (56 pounds, 7 ounces).

Cal Johnson

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On the morning of July 24, 1949, more than 65 years ago, Cal Johnson and his son launched their boat in Lake Court Oreilles, located in their hometown of Hayward, Wisconsin. Not long after he started trolling a wooden Pike Oereno lure, as he had done for years, Johnson hooked-up to what he immediately knew was a huge muskie.
Johnson, an experienced angler and outdoor writer, skillfully and carefully played his fish for an hour before the fish could be subdued. With the muskie measuring more than five feet in length, Johnson knew he had something special. The muskie was then taken to the nearby Moccasin Lodge, where it was officially weighed-in at an enormous 30.62 kilograms (67 pounds, 8 ounces).

As is the case with most highly coveted awards, the All-Tackle record for muskie has seen its share of controversy. Over the years, larger muskie catches have been reported, such as Louie Spray’s 69-pound, 11-ounce fish and Robert Malo’s 70 pounder.

However, Johnson’s muskie has retained the prestigious title as it was caught and documented in accordance with the IGFA’s International Angling Rules, the internationally accepted rules of sport fishing.

George McQuillen

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For 38 years, Canadian angler George McQuillen had fished the infamous St. Lawrence River in search of trophy muskie. On November 12, 1994, McQuillen hit the water early to take advantage of the rare good weather for that late in the season.

That afternoon, after already releasing one nice fish, McQuillen thought his 9-inch, jointed Kwik-Fish lure had snagged bottom when his rod doubled over and line peeled from his reel. However, as his boat came to a stop, and line was still disappearing from his reel, McQuillen knew he had a fish, and a good one at that. Twenty minutes later, McQuillen had the 23.7-kilogram (52-pound, 4-ounce) muskie netted, and a new Men’s 10-kilogram (20-pound) line class world record.

Dr. William Pivar

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For nearly 35 years, Dr. William Pivar has held the Men’s 8-kilogram (16-pound) line class record for muskie with the 20.41-kilogram (45-pound, 0-ounce) fish he pulled from 1,000 Island Lake in Upper Michigan on July 26, 1980.

Pivar and local guide Dick Rose hadn’t caught a thing all afternoon and with it getting late, Pivar made the decision to switch to a lighter outfit without a leader. Two minutes after deploying a Believer lure on the lighter outfit, Pivar hooked up. Despite the light tackle and the lack of a leader, Pivar needed only 5 short minutes to land his world record muskie.

Gary Ishii

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There is a popular saying that goes: “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.” That certainly applies to Gary Ishii, who became the envy of diehard muskie anglers everywhere on just his third fishing trip ever.
On October 11, 1984, while fishing Ontario’s Moon River with his brother-in-law, Ishii caught a 24.94-kilogram (55-pound) muskie that has held the Men’s 24-kilogram (50-pound) line class record ever since.

After hooking the fish on a large, jointed Swim Wizz lure, Ishii fought the fish to the boat in 30 minutes, and then everything went wrong. Ishii’s rod broke at the handle, and when he tried to net the fish, that too snapped at the handle due to the size of the musky. Grabbing the rim of the net, Ishii slung the fish in the boat—still not aware of what he had just caught.
After documenting his record catch, Ishii donated the cleithrum bone to science, which determined that his musky was approximately 20 years old.

Dr. John R. Jezioro

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For two straight days, Dr. John R. Jezioro unsuccessfully stalked his world record muskie. He knew where the fish was holding, but he simply could not get it to take his fly.
On the third day, the night of August 26, 2005, Jezioro’s patience finally paid off—the culmination of his four-year quest to catch a world record muskie on a fly.

Jezioro was casting a custom fly along the banks of West Virginia’s Tygart River when the fish, as he describes, “exploded like a missile” on his fly. However, after only a quick three minute fight, Jezioro had the fish landed.

After quickly documenting his catch, Jezioro revived and released his world record musky back into the Tygart. This impressive 29-pound catch (and release) earned Jezioro the Men’s 6-kilogram (12-pound) tippet class record, and the bragging rights of having caught the heaviest musky on a fly ever recorded by the IGFA.

Top 10 Freshwater World Records Ever Caught

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It’s been nearly 40 years since the IGFA began maintaining and recording freshwater world records, previously the responsibility of Field & Stream. When the torch was passed in 1978, there were current freshwater records handed over to the IGFA. Presently, the IGFA maintains over 2,000 approved freshwater world records from 67 different countries.

But this isn’t a lesson in stats. This is an article dedicated to 10 incredible freshwater world records; records that have not always received the same exposure as say, George Perry’s largemouth or Cal Johnson’s muskie, despite being comparable in significance.

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Selecting only 10 catches from a list of over 2,000, and leaving out the two all-time greats mentioned above, will clearly omit many noteworthy catches — but that’s for another article.

Smallmouth Bass — David Hayes, Dale Hollow Reservoir

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In the world of freshwater fishing, especially in North America, there are few species more heavily targeted than the smallmouth bass. So it is no surprise that David Hayes’ celebrated 5.41 kg (11 pound, 15 ounce) smallmouth has seen its share of controversy over the years.

Hayes caught his record fish on July 9, 1955 while trolling a lure in Dale Hollow Reservoir, Tennessee, USA. Hayes held the All-Tackle title for 41 years, despite swirling rumors denouncing his catch. These rumors, coupled with an affidavit stating that the dock owner added lead weight to the catch (unbeknownst to Hayes), resulted in the temporary ousting of Hayes’ record.

However, nine years later, it was proven through multiple polygraph tests that the sworn affidavit that denounced the legitimacy of Hayes’ smallmouth, had been falsified. Thus, returning the All-Tackle title to Hayes.

Despite the controversy surrounding Hayes’ smallmouth, it has withstood the test of time — and it’s fair share of polygraphs, too.

Walleye — Mabry Harper, Old Hickory Lake

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The folder in the IGFA’s Record Department designated Mabry Harper’s world record walleye is chock-full of articles and letters related to the controversy that has followed this catch over the past half century. It has been more than 50 years since Harper pulled his 11.34 kg (25 pound) walleye from Old Hickory Lake, near his home in Tennessee on the morning of August 2, 1960.

Harper was an avid angler and had caught many large walleye, and catfish, in his angling career. Luckily, Harper’s wife (seen in the photo) realized the significance of the catch and took it to be officially weighed-in at the Second Creek Resort, before Harper cleaned the fish for dinner (which he later did).

Harper’s fish was submitted for record consideration, and was quickly approved by Field & Stream as the new world record walleye. But as time progressed, questions began swirling about the legitimacy of this record claim — particularly the reported girth measurement of 29 inches.

Numerous organizations and individuals investigated Harper’s catch, hypothesizing that the fish couldn’t possibly be the reported weight due to size of Harper’s hand, in relations to the size of the fish. In 1996, the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame decided to remove Harper’s catch from the record books, due to “persistent rumors” they had received.

However, the IGFA, who had inherited all original documentation and correspondence from Field & Stream in the 1970’s, still recognizes Harper’s walleye as the heaviest ever caught on a rod and reel.

Pike — Lothar Louis, Lake Grefeern

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Despite the millions of diehard pike fishermen around the world, Lothar Louis remains the envy of them all due to the 25 kg (55 pounds, 1 ounce) northern pike he pulled from Lake Grefeern, Germany nearly 30 years ago. When Louis arrived at his local fishing hole on the morning of October 16, 1986, his plan was to target carp and roach — not northern pike.

However, Louis, like many of us anglers, was an optimist. It was Louis’ habit, at the start of each fishing day, to make 15 casts with his “pike rod” – a spinning outfit spooled with 8 kg (16-pound) mono. On just his third cast of the morning, Louis’ optimism was rewarded. The monster pike inhaled his spoon and Louis was hooked up to the fish of a lifetime.

Unable to net the fish due to its tremendous size, and worried that he would lose the fish, Lothar had no choice but to plunge his hands inside the gill covers to land the fish. In an interview after the catch, Lothar is quoted as saying that he “was so excited he did not feel the pain as the huge teeth sank into both hands as he lifted her up on the bank.”

Certainly a desperate move, given the serious dentition of the northern pike, but with a fish like that on the line can you really blame him?

Nile Perch — William Toth, Lake Nasser

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For many anglers, catching a perch is not something found on your angling “bucket list” — unless you’re talking about Nile perch. Unlike their smaller relatives, Nile perch grow to incredible sizes and have earned a reputation as a vicious, no-nonsense adversary. These mighty fish are widespread throughout Africa, bringing anglers from around the world with hopes of landing one of these trophies.

On December 20, 2000, California angler William Toth landed the heaviest Nile perch ever recorded on rod and reel — a 104.32 kg (230 pounds) fish that crushed the Rapala Fire Tiger lure he was trolling in Egypt’s famous Lake Nasser. After a fight that lasted almost an hour, Toth and two local guides were able to weigh the fish in a sling and then released it alive.

Now 14 years after the catch, Toth’s fish still remains the All-Tackle record despite the ever growing popularity of the Nile perch — a testament to the impressive nature of this catch

White Sturgeon — Joey Pallotta, San Pablo Bay

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As Joey Pallotta, III motored his 18 ft. fiberglass boat towards San Pablo Bay, California on the morning of July 9, 1983, little did he know that in just a few minutes, he would be fighting the biggest freshwater fish ever recorded on rod and reel. Just five mintues after casting a live grass shrimp into the water (remember that saying “elephants eat peanuts”?)

Pallotta came tight on the massive 212.48 kg (468 lb) white sturgeon that immediately surfaced, and began tail walking just a few yards from Pallotta’s boat. Stunned by the massive size of the fish, Pallotta radioed a nearby friend for assistance, as attempting to land such a fish on his boat was simply out of the question. Pallotta boarded his friend’s vessel, unassisted, and proceeded to fight the massive sturgeon for another five hours on 37 kg (80 pound) tackle, before it was finally subdued.

There had never been an All-Tackle record for white sturgeon before Pallotta’s, and there very well may never be another. Given the massive size of his fish and the strict regulations on the species, it is quite possible that Pallotta’s fish will never be surpassed.

Arapaima — Jakub Vagner, Ecuador

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The vast Amazon rainforest is home to some of the most unique and mysterious species of flora and fauna in the world. It is also a dream come true for adventurous anglers who thrive on the rush of targeting exotic species in uncharted waters. No species better represents the mystery and power of the Amazon than the arapaima – one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.

One of the allures of targeting arapaima is that nothing about catching them is easy. They are hard to access, hard to feed, and hard to fight. But that is exactly why adventurer and angler Jakub Vagner ventured into the dense jungles of Ecuador on February 18, 2010. Vagner’s efforts were rewarded in the form of a 154 kg (339 pound, 8 ounce) beast that took him nearly two hours to land, after eating the live baitfish he was using.

In addition to the amazing catch, Vagner was able to release the highly prized fish alive — thanks to a little help from his local guides and a certified scale. Adding to the mystery of the species, as arapaima continue to grow in popularity among recreational anglers, stories of 400+ pound specimens have surfaced, but no record applications have been submitted.

Peacock Bass — Andrea Zaccherini, Santa Isabel Do Rio Negro

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Peacock bass are the iconic fish of the Amazon, and rightfully so. Celebrated for their aggressive strikes, rugged fights, and beautiful coloration, it is no surprise that peacock bass are the target of millions of anglers around the world. Although there are several different species of peacock bass, none grow as large as the speckled peacock – the true king of the peacock basses.

On November 3, 2010, Andrea Zaccherini became the envy of anglers everywhere when he landed the heaviest peacock bass ever recorded by the IGFA — a 13.19 kg (29 pounds, 1 ounce) speckled peacock he pulled from Santa Isabel Do Rio Negro, in his native country of Brazil. Despite the immense size of Zaccherini’s fish, the fight lasted only 3 minutes — most likely a result of the adrenaline rush Zaccherini experienced after watching the massive peacock explode on the Pavon Prop topwater plug he was casting.

The All-Tackle record for speckled peacock has been broken three times in the past ten years, and the reports of anglers encountering fish in the 30-pound range are numerous. But do they get bigger than Zaccherini’s trophy peacock? With plenty of virgin water left to be discovered in the Amazon, it certainly seems possible. But until then, the All-Tackle title belongs to Zaccherini.

Barramundi — Dennis Harrold, Lake Monduran

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Aussie angler Denis Harrold caught his massive 44.64 kg (98 pound, 6 ounce) barramundi while fishing from his kayak Australia’s Lake Monduran on December 12, 2010. Harrold was able to subdue the All-Tackle record fish in just 15 minutes, after it crushed the Squidgies Slick Rig he was casting. In the southern hemisphere, especially in Australia, few species are as coveted and as highly regarded as the barra.

These amazing fish are not only exceptional fighters and great table fare, but they will also take a variety of baits, lures and flies — making them a supreme game fish. Although they can be caught in brackish water, the larger specimens are usually found in landlocked freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs where they are not exposed to as many natural pressures.

Given the large following these fish have and the potential for them to grow to exceptional sizes, it will be interesting to see how long Harrold’s barra holds the title.

Chinook Salmon — Les Anderson, Kenai River

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Chinook salmon are the largest species of salmon, earning them the popular nickname of king salmon. Because kings grow large, fight hard, and taste great, they’ve been targeted by recreational (and commercial) anglers for centuries. Yet, despite their immense following, Les Anderson’s 44.11 kg (97 pound, 14 ounce) king has held the highly coveted All-Tackle title for nearly 30 years.

Anderson pulled the record Chinook from Alaska’s famed Kenai River on May 17, 1985. Equipped with 15 kg (30-pound) tackle and only 21 inches of leader, Anderson needed 40 minutes to subdue his world record fish, after it ate the Spin Glow lure he was casting.

Although trophy kings are caught every year, Les Anderson’s fish is one of only two Chinook salmon recorded by the IGFA weighing greater than 90 pounds. In short, Les Anderson has set the bar high with his record king — the heaviest salmon ever recorded by the IGFA.

Conclusion

Although it was originally founded as a saltwater angling organization in 1939, the IGFA is proud of its rich 36 year history in the world of freshwater fishing. As the IGFA continues to adapt its programs and rules, in order to remain pertinent to recreational anglers around the world, it is exciting to think about the amazing catches to come.

New records are caught every day and as these 10 records illustrate, you never know when your chance at a world record will arise. Whether you fish freshwater, saltwater, or both — make sure you’re aware of IGFA rules, so you too can become part of the rich history of sport fishing when you’re opportunity arrives.

Bait Options for Big Pike

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If you want to pull big pike through the ice, use big baits and cut holes that you know the fish will fit through. Most ice-anglers serious about catching big pike use spuds to cut ice-holes that they know will accommodate a trophy-sized fish. If you use an auger, make sure it cuts at least an 8-inch hole.

Believe me, a 6-inch hole in the ice is not big enough. My brother Bruce and ice-fishing partner Dean Mallos found that out the hard way one winter. Their tip-up lines were baited with live suckers when a northern that exceeded 20 pounds took the bait. Bruce hooked and played the fish by hand with no problem, but when he tried to pull it through the hole, he panicked when he realized the fish was too big!

Fortunately, the two had a gaff with them and Bruce was able to securely gaff the fish and hold it under the ice while Dean feverishly enlarged the hole so the pike would fit through. The 44-inch northern tipped the scales at 22 pounds! They’ve been cutting bigger holes before they start fishing ever since.

I learned the value of using big baits for big winter pike many years ago during my first ice-fishing trip for northerns with friend Rich Kortum and his son Steve. We were fishing with dead baits that day, suspending them under tip-ups on Mustad Pike Hooks so they looked lifelike. All of the lines but one were baited with smelt. The lone exception had a bloater chub on it that was about a foot long.

When the flag attached to that line went off as light was fading for the day, we were confident a big pike was probably responsible, and that proved to be the case. A 16-pounder had grabbed that big bait and, after a longer than normal struggle, Rich managed to pull it onto the ice.

Based on those two examples, it should be crystal clear that big pike under the ice will take either live or dead bait. Which to use depends on availability and personal preference. If you have access to both types of bait, it can be an advantage to use both and let the pike tell you which they prefer. Their preferences can change from day to day.

Going Live

In terms of live bait, I usually rely on either suckers or golden shiners when targeting northern pike under the ice. I tend to favor shiners when fishing waters where either pike or walleyes can be hooked. If I’m concentrating on northerns, I normally go with suckers, buying the largest I can find at the local bait shop.

Size 4, 6 or 8 treble hooks work fine when fishing live bait, hooking the shiner or sucker through the meat below the dorsal fin with one of the treble’s hooks. Some ice-fishermen prefer “quick strike” rigs for live bait, which incorporate two treble hooks on a wire leader. When two trebles are used, one can be hooked under the baitfish’s dorsal fin and the other near the tail. An option is to put the front hook near the head.

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Wire leaders are recommended with single treble hooks to ice-fish for northern pike with live bait. That’s to prevent the sharp teeth of these toothy predator fish from cutting the line. Heavy monofilament leaders in the 20- to 30-pound-test range can be substituted for wire leaders with good results.

Based on a comparison of monofilament and wire leaders, I’ve hooked more fish on mono than wire, but an occasional pike still manages to cut the heavy mono, getting away.

The movement of live baitfish can work to the advantage of ice-fishermen when it comes to hooking pike. I like to clamp a split shot or two on the line when using live bait to keep them as deep as possible.

Dead Bait Options

Mustad makes a U-shaped pike hook specifically designed for ice-fishing dead bait that I really like. The reason I like it is I’ve caught many a winter northern with them. They come in a variety of sizes to match the size of dead bait you are using, but I prefer the larger 10 and 12 sizes because they are suited for the biggest bait.

These pike hooks can be used with any type of dead bait that northerns prefer such as smelt, suckers, shiners, chubs, alewives, herring and yellow perch. You aren’t likely to find perch at bait shops, but I know at least one angler who catches perch on hook and line that he freezes and saves as pike bait. (Check regulations before you try this!) Other anglers secure supplies of smelt and alewives themselves that they use as pike bait.

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There are a number of advantages to using Mustad Pike Hooks with dead bait to ice-fish for northerns. You don’t have to carry bait buckets full of water with you to make sure bait stays alive. Due to the shape of these hooks, you don’t normally have to worry about hooking sublegal fish too deeply and injuring them. Northerns of any size are easy to unhook once they are on the ice.

Before hooking a baitfish with the Mustad Hooks, I hold the hook next to the fish to determine where to insert it so the point of the hook ends up at the head or just behind the head. I then insert the hook point downward at the appropriate place near the tail and into the body cavity then forward to the head. The long, straight portion of the hook keeps bait looking lifelike in the water.

Once a dead bait is hooked, I lower it into the water to see if the fish rests horizontally. If it’s close, the bait is ready to attract a pike. If the head goes up or down too much, I often use a small nail as ballast that I put either in the mouth or vent of the baitfish to balance it in the water.

When using Mustad Hooks it’s important to only set the hook on a fish when it’s running with the bait. Due to the design of the hook, it’s critical to keep the line tight when bringing in a pike. If any slack develops in the line, the hook can easily pull out. Also due to the design of Mustad Hooks, wire leaders are not necessary.

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I usually fish live or dead baitfish about a foot from the bottom. A clamp-on weight is used to test the depth before lowering the bait. A small rubber band can be added to the line to mark the right depth when resetting the line during the course of the day.

I’ve had my best success on winter pike along structure such as the edges of weedbeds or dropoffs. Most action is in water between 5 and 10 feet deep. When using dead baits, if there’s little to no action, I often lift the bait a foot or two and then let it settle back toward the bottom to make it look alive. That movement can be enough to generate a strike.

Source: GameAndFishMag

10 Old School Catfishing Techniques That Still Work Today

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Kansas native Jerry Dishman remembers using whatever means possible to catch catfish in the Big Blue River as a young boy in the 1940’s. In that era, fishing was done to put food on the table, not for sport, so the technology that anglers rely on today did not even exist. Instead, Dishman and other anglers got creative, using techniques like hand fishing, gigging and fish traps. While those techniques are a bit primitive, those were different times.

“There was no sport fishing at that time, so going to the river was only about finding food. We ate everything we caught,” said Dishman.

Over the years, sport fishing emerged and fishing technology evolved. As the retired parks superintendent for the city of Manhattan, Kan., Dishman says that many people still turn to the tried and true techniques of yesteryear, because they work.

What has changed over the years, are the laws governing these techniques. Each state has different restrictions and in some states, certain techniques are outlawed completely.

According to Jason Olive, Assistant Chief of Fisheries Management for Arkansas Game and Fish, laws differ from state to state for several reasons. These include, productivity of the water relating to fish population, state management goals that strive to find a balance between supply and demand for recreational and commercial fishing and the less quantifiable sociological considerations.

“Sometimes regulations are created not because we are worried about a species being wiped out, but because the public feels it’s a method not considered fair chase. Traditions and norms of what people consider acceptable and fair chase differ among regions,” said Olive.

Hand fishing is a prime example, where it is legal in southern states, and illegal in the north.

It is important to check the regulations in your state, but here are 10 old-school catfishing techniques that are still used today.

Yo-Yo Fishing

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One of the more popular “non tackle” catfishing techniques is yo-yo fishing. Some catfish anglers use the yo-yo technique almost exclusively because it requires minimal equipment, it is easy to learn and it works.
While the simplistic yo-yos have become more sophisticated over the years, they evolved from a time when a spring-loaded feature was considered high-tech fishing gear.

The technique relies on a spring-loaded disk with line wrapped around the internal unit. The end of the line hangs from the yo-yo with a swivel, hook and split-shot weights.

The device is then attached a dock or a limb to hang over the water. When a fish bites, the spring-loaded yo-yo automatically sets the hook.

Outdoor adventure and survival schools like Blackhorn-USA teach the yo-yo technique to students versus other fishing methods.

“We recommend the use of yo-yo reels to our students for two reasons: they are very effective and they can fish while you concentrate on other tasks,” said Dave Carlson, Owner of Blackthorn-USA.

The yo-yo technique is most effective for catching eating-sized catfish. The best habitats for using yo-yos are low regions with shallow, stumpy lakes or with the use of lures in mid-depth water.
Photo courtesy of: Blackhorn USA

Hand Fishing

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Perhaps no other old-school technique gets as much attention as hand fishing. In fact, depending on where you visit, you will find it called different things: “noodling” in Missouri and Oklahoma, “hogging” in Arkansas and “hand grabbing” in Mississippi. The term “hand fishing” is acceptable almost everywhere.

Without rod and reel, hand fishing evolved as an easy method for catching food. Today, the technique is used mostly for sport and is as much about bragging rights and bravery as it is the catch.

This technique involves targeting catfish holes beneath the water and using your bare hands to attract the fish for a bite. Anglers wade in murky water navigating the edges of the bank, logs and rocks with their bare hands.
Once a catfish hole is discovered, they reach in with their arm hoping the fish will swim forward and bite. It sounds easy enough, but these holes are often under brush or located several feet under water resulting in many instances of injuries when other animals reach out to bite instead.

While still legal in some states, hand fishing is highly regulated out of concerns for angler safety and for conservation. Typically, the large cats that are in these holes are gravid females that are nesting. Disrupting these nests interrupts reproduction.
Photo by Mike Wintroath

Hoop Nets

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The use of hoop nets is almost exclusive to commercial fishermen and biologists who conduct regular sampling of catfish in rivers. Generations ago, hoop nets were used as an effective fishing technique in large waterways like the Columbia River where they could be easily placed in a swift current.

Modern-day hoop nets evolved from versions developed by Native American Indian tribes, which consisted of a series of wooden hoops, connected with hemp twine.

The commercial hoop nets of today are either a single hoop or tandem hoop style either made of metal or fiberglass. While the construction has changed, the basic technique for using them has not.

Single hoop nets are tied to the root of a tree or on-shore structure and left to drift downstream so the current flows through it. Tandem hoop nets are a series of 3 or 4 hoops connected together with netting as they decrease in size and also drift downstream.

Hoop nets are extremely effective for catching catfish. However, there are many restrictions on the size of nets that can be used, where they can be use and in the states where they are legal, you need a commercial fishing license to use them.
Photo by Mike Wintroath

Trotlines

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Next to the traditional rod and reel, trotlines are one of the most popular fishing techniques for catfish. It is also one of the oldest and most versatile ways to target many fish at once.
Trotlines are usually set in deeper water and they are very effective in both lakes and rivers. The origins of the trotline appear to be as varied as the bait that can be used on them.

While trotlines have a rich history in U.S. Appalachian culture, the actual term “trotline” derived from English and German origins from the term “trot,” likely referring to the action of checking the line.
This is a simple technique that is easily learned, which is why it has been passed down for generations with very little change to the technique or the tools.

Trotlines are made up of heavy fishing line with a series of dangling lines and hooks, called snoods. Floats are usually placed one either end to indicate a line in the water.

Some lines have upwards of 25 hooks that can accommodate various kinds of bait from crawfish to brim. The line is draped across the water and checked periodically or left overnight.

Spearfishing

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Spearfishing is an old-school technique that has gained new popularity in recent years. It is an ancient technique that was used by many early civilizations and Native Americans to hunt for fish.
Using sharpened tree branches as spears, fish were hunted by sight from the riverbank or by diving in clear water.

The spears of today are fiberglass and can be powered by compressed gas or elastic spearguns.
Some spearfishing anglers, like members of the Hell Divers Spearfishing Club , use free-diving techniques to target catfish in 5 to 20 feet of water. This is an effective technique that has netted them even trophy-size catfish.

“We spearfish for catfish in the local lakes of Southern Louisiana from June through December, when the rivers that feed the lakes are at the lowest stages. From June through October, we get the larger yellow cats and winter is when we hunt the blue catfish,” said David Chaix of Hell Divers.

Clubs like Hell Divers have been part of a resurgence of the popularity of spearfishing, which is a technique that also being used now to aid in conservation research.
Photo by David Chaix

Jug FIshing

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Anyone who ever went fishing with grandpa remembers the old milk jugs that were used to fish in lakes and large reservoirs. That is how the term “jug fishing” came to be, and it is a technique that is still popular for catfishing.

Jug fishing for catfish works like this: a flotation device (plastic milk jug, empty soda container, pool noodle sections) is used to suspend your line in the water. When the fish bites, the jug moves and you can retrieve your catch.

These days, anglers use a variety of flotation devices, but the concept is the same as when grandpa heaved the milk jugs over the side of the boat.

Matt Oliver, a self-proclaimed “jug fisherman” and President/CEO of Catfishing Noodles , says while the decades and laws have changed, this is still a viable method.

“In order to keep up with the times we use PVC pipe, swimming noodles, and reflective tape to make our catfish noodles so that they can be fished all night and keep in compliance with the laws today,” said Matt Oliver.
Jug fishing is preferred because you can cover a large area of water and catch many fish over a short period of time. You can also use a variety of bait and easily relocate your line when necessary.
Photo courtesy of: Catfish Noodles

Limb Lines

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Limb lines are as simple as you can get, which is likely why this technique has been used to catch catfish for many years.

Traditionally, limb lines were used as an easy way to catch enough fish at one time to feed a family. Like similar methods of jug fishing, trotlines and yo-yos, limb lines originated as common method of putting food on the table.

Best used in shallow water, limb lines are simply string tied to a limb with a hook and bait that is dropped several feet into the water. It is common to tie several dozen limb lines along the riverbank and leave them to check later or overnight.

Art Preller, Owner of Port Arthur Instant Limb Lines with deep family roots along the Arkansas Delta, says this technique is effective for putting your line right in the path of passing fish.
“Limb lines work best because you put your bait close to where the catfish run as they search for food,” said Preller.

This is why limb lines are so effective at night when catfish are hungry and on the prowl. Limb lines are preferred because they require little maintenance and monitoring.
Photo by Art Preller jr.

Bow fishing

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The use of bow and arrow for hunting has transcended many cultures over thousands of years. This is where bowfishing for catfish eventually emerged, and like other techniques became less about food and more about sport over time.

Bowfishing is popular in areas with expansive, shallow water, no more than two feet in depth. Bowfishing can be done by wading or with use of an airboat, which enables you to get to areas that are inaccessible, by foot. Usually done at night with the use of spotlights, bowfishing is quite successful for catfish as long as you have good aim.

Bowfishing utilizes specialized archery gear that is equipped with a barbed spear attached to a line for easy retrieval. Catfish are targeted by sight so polarized sunglasses are essential during the day to cut down on glare and adequate spotlighting is necessary at night.
Photo by Mike Wintroath

Fish Traps

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One of the most ancient and most primitive forms of catfishing is trapping. Indigenous Australians used fish traps made out of branches and trees to catch meals for their families.
Fish traps were significant to the commercial salmon fishing industry in Alaska before they were banned in 1959 and stirring up controversy ever sense.

Various versions of fish traps were used in nearly every culture around the world because they were simple, efficient and easy to make out of natural resources.

Fish traps are permanent or semi-permanent structures (usually a wooden box) equipped with a funnel-type cylinder that makes it almost impossible for fish to escape once they enter. The boxes are set downstream where they literally trap the fish in their path of navigation.

Today, fish traps are mostly outlawed in the United States except for strictly regulated commercial fishing in some states. You will also find wilderness survival courses that teach this technique as a last resort method for finding food.
Photo by Willow Haven Outdoor

Gigging

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While not very common, gigging is an old-school method that some people still use and that some states still allow. This simple method involves using a large gig to spear fish. Gigs typically have three or four sharp prongs attached to a long pole. Oftentimes, anglers attach the gig to a rope to target catfish by sight in shallow water.

Jerry Dishman of Kansas who showed me some antique gigs in his collection says gigging was a common method for hunting food in the early 1900’s. In fact, the white Kansas corn came in handy for anglers because they could throw it into the water using it to easily see the shadows of the catfish as they came near.
Gigging is another method that originated out of necessity and evolved over time to sport. While some states like Arkansas and Missouri allow gigging, it is strictly regulated and used infrequently by anglers.

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

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When it comes to fishing baits, you won’t find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. You can buy many of these “stinkbaits” at your local tackle shop or discount store, and they work great for catching the eating-size whiskerfish most of us want to catch.

If you’re a hardcore catfisherman, however, you should try making your own catfish baits at home. Most are foul-smelling, stick-to-your-fingers concoctions that could gag a maggot, but they’re also inexpensive, easy to prepare and, when made with the right ingredients, sure to entice lots of cats.

One old-timer told me, “There are more stink bait recipes than there are food recipes, and not all of them have been invented yet. The fun part is experimenting. When you come up with a brand-new formula, you’re just as proud as you’d be if you made a delicious new barbecue sauce or a tasty marinade.”

Here are three basic recipes to get you started. Each works great as is, but feel free to add some of your own secret ingredients—rotten fish, Limburger cheese, soured grain or special oils and essences, for example.

Giving a recipe your own special touch may make it even more attractive to those whiskered warriors you want to catch for your next fish fry.

Mr. Whisker’s Dough Balls

All photos courtesy of Zach Sutton

All photos courtesy of Zach Sutton

For this bait, you need four ingredients: 1 cup flour, 1 cup corn meal, 1 tin of sardines (packed in oil or water) and a 1-ounce bottle of anise extract. You’ll also need some water to add for the right consistency.

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Start by thoroughly whisking together the flour and corn meal in a large mixing bowl. Then break apart the sardines and pour into the flour-corn meal mixture, along with all of the juices from the tin. These little fishies give the bait a scent and flavor catfish find hard to resist.

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Use the whisk to mash all of the sardines into tiny pieces. Then stir everything well so the juices are absorbed by the flour and corn meal.

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Anise extract can usually be found in the spice section of your supermarket. Catfish are attracted by its licorice-like aroma. Add a full 1-ounce bottle to the other ingredients and stir well.

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You should now stir in some water a little bit at a time until the mixture has the consistency of Play-Doh. Don’t add too much water or the bait will turn out too thin. It needs to be thick enough you can use your hands to form it into balls.

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Form the dough into pieces the size and shape of golf balls and drop into boiling water. Allow to cook about 3 minutes. This hardens the pieces so they’ll stay on your hook better.

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Use a slotted spoon to remove the dough balls from the water. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool. The bait is now ready to use. Store in a plastic container or zip-seal freezer bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to go fishing. Impale on a big single-barb hook, lob into the water and get ready for action.

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

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Using the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) world record database and its extensive network of members around the world, we produced a list of some of the most popular catfish species in the world.

Not only will we examine where to find these fish and how to identify them – but more importantly, we’ll tell you how to catch some of the world’s biggest catfish.

Here are the world records to beat and tips for how to do it:

As the largest catfish species found in North America, the blue cat has long been a favorite target of freshwater anglers looking for a bullish fight to test their skill and tackle.

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Blue Catfish World Record
All-Tackle Record: 64.86 kilograms (143 pounds, 0 ounces), Kerr Lake, Va., USA

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Channel Catfish

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Highly valued for both its food and sporting value, the channel catfish is one of the most popular catfish species in North America. The widely distributed channel cat is found in throughout most freshwater lakes, rivers, streams and ponds of the United States, southern Canada and northern Mexico.

The channel catfish can be distinguished from other catfish species in North America by its spotted body and deep forked tail—making it unique from the blue and white catfish that are not spotted.

Small fishes, crustaceans (crayfish), and insects—alive or dead—are some of the channel cat’s favorite prey items, so consequently these are also some of the preferred baits of anglers targeting channel cats.
A variety of artificial and “stink” baits, fished in the lower water column or on the bottom, are also effective when targeting these fish. When hooked, the channel cat makes strong, determined runs.

Channel Catfish World Record
All-Tackle Record: 26.3 kilograms (58 pounds), Santee-Cooper Reservoir, S.C., USA

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Flathead Catfish

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As the second largest catfish species in North America, the flathead is an extremely popular freshwater game fish and is naturally distributed throughout the United States and northern Mexico, with introductions occurring throughout the world.

Flathead catfish prefer to inhabit debris laden pools, within small to large rivers, where it can ambush, or scavenge for, their next meal. While its general coloration of mottled yellows and browns does not differ greatly from other catfish, the flathead is very distinctive in appearance and is not easily confused with any other species. Its flat head is accentuated by oval shaped eyes and a protruding lower jaw, making it easily recognizable.

The flathead’s diet consists mainly of smaller fishes and insects, with the preference seemingly on fish. Its large size and great tasting flesh make the flathead very popular with anglers. When targeting flatheads, anglers will look for slow-moving pools within a river, where logs and other debris have gathered.
Dropping a small fish to the bottom of these pools is one of the most effective methods for targeting flathead. Once hooked, these powerful fish test not only the angler’s skill, but also their tackle, as they oftentimes use submerged debris to break the angler’s line.

While using natural bait is the most popular method of fishing for this species, anglers targeting crappie and bass with artificial baits are often surprised by a large flathead taking their plug, jig or soft plastic lure.

Flathead Catfish World Record

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All-Tackle Record: 55.79 kilograms (123 pounds), Elk City Reservoir, Independence, Kan., USA

Goonch

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The goonch is a mysterious catfish species that inhabits the rocky, swift moving rivers of central Asia’s Ganges, Mekong and Chao Phraya river basins—with some of the largest specimens taken in India, where they commonly exceed 45 kilograms (100 pounds).

Goonch World Record

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All-Tackle Record: 75 kilograms (165 pounds, 5 ounces), Ramganga River, India

Lau-Lau (Piraiba)

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The lau-lau, or piraiba, is the largest catfish species on the IGFA record books, but there have been even larger specimens reported in the 200-kilogram (440-pound) range.

Lau-Lau World Record

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All-Tackle Record: 155 kilograms (341 pounds, 11 ounces), Rio Solimoes, Brazil

Giant Mekong Catfish

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While the giant Mekong catfish is critically endangered due to over-exploitation, this massive catfish is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.

Giant Mekong Catfish World Record

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All-Tackle Record: 117.93 kilograms (260 pounds), Gillhams Fishing Resorts, Krabi, Thailand

Redtail Catfish (Pirarara)

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The redtail catfish, or pirarara, is highly sought after for its game fish characteristics and is considered to be one of the best fighting catfishes. Its brownish back, yellow sides and blood orange dorsal and caudal fins make the redtail catfish easily recognizable among other catfish species.

Redtail Catfish World Record

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All-Tackle Record: 56 kilograms (123 pounds, 7 ounces), Rio Amazonas, Amazonas, Brazil

Sharptooth Catfish

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Probably the most widely distributed fish in Africa, the sharptooth catfish is found throughout the woodland-savanna zones of the Afro-tropical region from the Nile River, to as far south as the Umtamvuna River in South Africa.

Sharptooth Catfish World Record

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All-Tackle Record: 36 kilograms (79 pounds, 5 ounces), Orange River, Upington, South Africa

Spotted Sorubim

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The spotted sorubim is a beautifully colored game fish, patterned with eloquently random black splotches and spots. Although oftentimes confused with the barred and tiger sorubim because of the variation in their spots, the large size of the spotted sorubium—which is reported to grow up to 100 kilograms—separates it from its smaller sorubim relatives.

Spotted Sorubim World Record

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All-Tackle Record: 53.5 kg (117 pounds, 15 ounces), Rio Parana, Corrientes, Argentina

Wels

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Not only is the wels one of the largest catfish species in the world, it is also one of the largest freshwater fish in the world—with catches reported into the 600-pound range.

Wels World Record

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All-Tackle Record: 134.97 kilograms (297 pounds, 9 ounces), River Po, Italy