Catching Big River Blues
structures and/or cover, such as wing dikes, bluff holes, log jams and cut banks. Some wing dikes have notches that produce a downstream scour hole where blues can be found. Although it is most efficient to access blue cat habitat by boat, many of these locations are accessible from the bank.
In urban areas such as St. Louis, an abundance of additional structures such as moored barges and bridge piers are available. Chris Morrow, a veteran blue cat angler from Troy, Missouri, focuses on these structures when fishing.
In a recent article for In-Fisherman’s Catfish Insider, Chris explained that his favorite targets are moored barges that have been in place for a week or more, usually for repair. Carl also fishes by moored barges where he suspects that all of the artificial lighting attracts insects and baitfish at night, which further attracts big blues.
Both Chris and Carl fish day and night, depending on their work schedules and the season. During the cooler times of year, they often fish during the day. In the summer, they are usually on the river in the early morning hours or at night to avoid the heat. Although many long-time blue cat anglers insist that nighttime offers the best fishing, Carl notes that many catfish tournaments are held during the day and they regularly produce huge blue cats.
Catching the cat
Appropriate gear is important when pursuing big river giants that can exceed 100 pounds. The typical rig for blues includes a 7- to 8-foot rod with a strong back and a sensitive tip. Carl feels that a rod with too stiff of a tip will spook big blues when they pick up the bait.
Many companies now design rods for big river cat-fishing. A heavy-duty bait-casting reel loaded with 30- to 50-pound monofilament line works well for blues. Chris uses braided fishing line, which is becoming more popular among catfish anglers. If you don’t want to get too fancy, there are plenty of affordable, heavy-duty rod and reel combos that will do the trick on big river blues. The most important thing is that you feel confident in your equipment when you go into battle.
Tackle should include slip sinkers weighing from 3 to 8 ounces. Attach a piece of 12- to 24-inch line to a two-way swivel below the slip sinker and tie a 6/0 to 8/0 circle hook to the end. Most blue cat anglers swear by circle