Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dog days and catfish

Lately it has been hot, almost too hot to fish if such a time could ever exist.  The bass have hunkered down, the bluegill are nowhere to be found (at least the larger ones), and the carp, well the carp are just plain outsmarting me.  Spring fed trout laden streams are over an hour's drive from where I live, making them out of reach for the casual fishing jaunt.

These dog days of summer leave the fly fisherman debating whether to take cover in some climate controlled environment and tie flies until the heat dome passes, or fish after dark. 

Fishing after dusk presents its own unique challenges most of which involve some form of bumbling around in the dark either tying knots, untying unintended knots, blindly casting or flailing at the incessant onslaught of mosquitoes.

Even at night the bass bite has been slow with only a few takers, usually small fish. One night I was fishing the water's surface using a cicada pattern (Lucky #13), with an occasional bite.  Standing far back from the shoreline I cast just 4' off the bank, instantly something hungry slammed the fly.  I could tell it was a decent sized fish just from the water it pushed during the take.  After a good fight and to my surprise, I pulled a catfish out of the water, yes a top-water catfish.
Later in the week I was back at it, fishing in the pitch black.  Fishing in the dark really teaches one to feel the cast and listen to the loop as it whistles overhead. The surface action was completely dead, so I went with a subsurface presentation ( #10 black wooly bugger).  I was fishing it deep with a slow and continuous retrieve.  I snagged a log or something ( great another lost fly ).  Then I felt a strong tug and my fly rod bent willingly as line was ripped off the reel.  Slowly I tired the fish and landed a nice 16" blue catfish.  After the fight I realized I had used a barbless hook to bring this one in, what a great fight.  Here's to catfish on the fly in the dog days of summer.


  1. Hey man. Nice catfish and way to brave the night. That is awesome that it hit top water! We need to fish soon.

  2. Brian,

    Way cool! I must try fishing past midnight some time. I have caught several channels on a fly, the largest say 5lb., and innumerable bullheads, some to 14" who here take a fly as well as with bait it seems. Good story-keep it up!


    1. Thanks for the feedback Gregg. How are you generally catching catfish on the fly, are you using indicator rigs? If so, what type of flies do you use? Or, do you catch them on accident when fishing for a different species?


  3. Hi Brian,

    No, no indicator, at least with the big boys. Cast and retrieve, my largest with a black bunny leech size 4 with a black bead head, simple fly. The Bullheads all on an indicator casting to bubbles of carp and them, similar except they make smaller ones, usually. My usual carp flies designed to ride hook up, and good ol' San Juan Worm types. All the cats seem to hold onto the fly longer than carp. I caught a 14" bullhead I stupidly tried to simply lift up out of the water like the smaller ones, heavy fat fish almost broke an Orvis T3 6 wt. Yes, mostly by accident, though on one pond in early march (cold H2O) I see whiskers protuding through the surfsce as the channels search the top layer for food, those I cast to for them. But, going after them at night appeals to me.