Posts Tagged ‘catfish’

Set Your Hook

Cleaning Catfish

Unlike trout and most pan fish, you can’t really use the super easy 4 Step Fish Cleaning Process.

Because catfish have no scales, you usually remove the skin when you’re cleaning them. As I discovered with The Queen Mother’s Cataract Lake catfish, removing the skin is easier said than done.

(Take my word for it on THAT one!)

After trying to ‘intelligently’ write up the process, I found a great 5-step process from Iowa Department of Natural Resources that I’ll share with you. (The pictures are theirs as well!)

Materials needed: a sharp knife, pliers, fillet glove, and firm surface.

Step 1. Grip the head tightly with the pectoral fins tucked between the fingers. Slit the skin along the backbone from just behind the head to the dorsal fin. Cut the skin on either side of the dorsal fin.

Catfish cleaning Step 1

Step 2. With a firm hold on the head, grasp the skin with the pliers and pull toward the tail fin to remove.

Catfish cleaning Step 2

Step 3. Grasp the head with one hand and the body with the other. Bend the head downward to break the backbone. Remove the head.

Catfish cleaning Step 3

Step 4. Slit the belly and remove the internal organs.

Catfish cleaning Step 4

Step 5. (Optional) Cut along both sides of the dorsal and anal fins and use the pliers to remove.

Catfish Cleaning step 5

Readers Weigh In:

  • Is this how YOU clean catfish?
  • Do you have a better/easier way to get catfish ready to cook?

Set Your Hook

Catching Catfish

As I got ready to write my article this week, it dawned on me that I hadn’t written an article about the best ways to catch catfish!

Catfish Story:

The “Royal” Family was trout fishing at Cataract Lake in Williams, Arizona. The fishing seemed slow but the lake was packed so we had to walk way past our usual spot. When we got to the lake shore, we discovered that ESP Boss hadn’t brought The Queen Mother’s fishing pole. After a, ahem, ugly scene, The Queen Mother agreed to use ESP Boss’ backwards, upside-down, won’t-catch-anything, left-handed pole. She threw in a test cast and pulled out a catfish! It was the only fish we caught all day.

Channel catfish are well-known for their fighting spirit. Because of this, it’s important that you have a quality rod and reel. A medium action 6-7 foot rod with 12 pound test line will land a large channel cat, but be prepared for a lengthy battle. And, you still might end up breaking your tackle and losing the fish. Isn’t that possibility part of the fun?

Catfish have scattered black spots on a silver or gray colored back and sides with a white belly, but large adults have few spots. They have smooth, scale-less skin and 8 barbels or ‘whiskers’. Length is 10 to 39 inches and weight 12 ounces to over 15 pounds or larger (depending on the waterway, area of the country, fishing habits, etc.) Contrary to myth, the “whiskers” are harmless to touch and used only to smell, taste and feel as it forages for food. However, the dorsal fin and pectoral fins have sharp spines which can inflict a painful wound.

Channel catfish are found in most warm water lakes and rivers and they inhabit deeper stretches of rivers and streams with moderate current. Spawns are from April through early June. In Arizona, they are occasionally stocked in some waterways.


Channel catfish will eat almost anything dead or alive, although, they prefer minnows, crayfish, and aquatic insects. Effective baits are waterdogs, liver, blood bait, shad, shrimp, anchovies, homemade stink baits, hot dogs, minnows and worms. Other popular baits are cut baits (pieces of goldeye, tulibee or suckers), raw shrimp, chicken and beef liver and hearts, frogs and nightcrawlers.

(Before using a bait, be sure to check with your local Fish & Game to make sure that it is allowed in the waterway you’ll be fishing!)

All baits work well, but on some days one will work better than another, so it is best to bring more than one type with you. Fresh cut bait works better than frozen. A float rig with a small hook tipped with a piece of nightcrawler and some split shot for weight is an effective way to catch some goldeye.

We usually use the old standby of chicken livers, but another option is turkey or chicken hearts. They stay on the hook really well and cats love them!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What are your favorite catfish baits?
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