Lower Susquehanna River Channel Cats
Though overshadowed by the Susquehanna River's outstanding smallmouth Bass fishing, the river supports an excellent channel catfish population. Fall is a great time to pursue them.
According to Rod Bates, owner of Koinonia Guide Service (717)-805-7082, consistent fishing for the river's channel cats start in May and extends well into the late fall. When water temperatures drop below 45 degrees things slow down. Bate rates the Susquehanna River's channel catfish fishery as excellent in terms of quantity, and good for size. "Most of our fish are in the 15-to-20-inch size range, but each guide trip produces channel cats in the 20-inch class," he noted.
Channel cats are common throughout most of the Susquehanna River. Koinonia Guide Service targets the area from York Haven Dam and south. Bates locates channel cats by searching the bottom with his sonar unit, looking for deeper depressions likely to hold fish. He anchors the boat above the depth change and cast back to the deep-to-shallow transition.
"Once we catch fish, and they stop biting, I'll let out another 10 feet of anchor rope which allows the boat to drift back," Bates said. "We also change the anchor tie from the bow to either side of the boat which allows the boat to swing in the current without changing the anchor position." Once he's thoroughly worked an area,, Bates moves to a fresh hole and starts the process over again.
Forkbaits can be caught on a variety of concoctions. Bates prefers using a prepared fiber bait, Team Catfish Sudden Impact. While most any medium action rod and reel combo will work, Bates opts for baitcasters -- Bass Pro Shops' Extreme MH rods and matching baitcasting reels. Reels are loaded with BPS XPS 17-pound test Fluorocarban line.
"I install an egg sinker, sinker bumper, swivel and then two-foot leader," Bates explained. "I finish off with a No. 4 or No. 6 treble hook." The treble hook is dipped in the fiber bait. If, after five minutes he doesn't have a bite, he rebaits with fresh stuff.
Though channel catfish action continues well into the fall, if you haven't had your fill the fishing can be good throughtout the winter months near warm water discharges. For more information, including instructional videos on how to use the fiber bait described above, Visit KoinoinaFishingGuides.com