Canepoling Cats

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Published on: Jul. 2, 1998

Last revision: Nov. 1, 2010

of a telescope.


Rig a pole with a durable braided or twisted primary line and a 4- to 6-foot monofilament leader. For the primary line, use 100-pound test fishing cord. Braided or twisted line works equally well, however, you won't have as many problems with fraying if you use braided line.

Since you normally fish hard cover, such as boulders, rootwads and snags, and you are seeking a fish with a reputation as a fighter, you'll want to use 20-pound test line for your leader.

This line is durable, but can be broken with some effort when snagged. Bright colored monofilament line is visible in the water but won't scare the fish.


For channel catfish, flathead catfish and blue catfish, use #6 treble hooks. These fit in the mouth of any keeper catfish you encounter, and three barbs help guarantee a good hook set. You can fish treble hooks snagless, by covering all of the barbs with your bait. Because some snags are inevitable, however, I recommend using brass hooks that, when pulled, will bend out of snags with hand pressure.


Fishing with a pole requires split shot to keep the bait down. One or two small split shot placed 12 to 18 inches above the bait normally will do the job.


Some people consider channel catfish to be 'possums of the fish world. That's because they are opportunists and will consume virtually any food item that comes along. Grasshoppers or crickets, night crawlers, dead minnows, chicken entrails, crayfish, cut-bait or prepared blood-baits are effective for channel catfish. During float trips you can collect bait as you go by setting minnow traps while you fish or by seining.

Miscellaneous Equipment:

A simple canvas nail pouch will hold tackle on canepole fishing trips. Adding Velcro or snap closures to the tackle pouch will complete the outfit and prevent items from getting away from you as you wade in the water. A hemostat or needle-nose pliers, spare leader material and a cache of hooks and sinkers is all the equipment you need.


Like most other game fish, catfish lurk in or near some type of structure. When searching for the best place to drop a bait, keep in mind depth, flow and substrate. Any natural structure that results in a change in any of these three factors can be good.


Rootwads are my favorite places to fish. Almost without exception, the heavy root ball of a fallen tree will point upstream with

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