Cats in the Channel

There’s more swimming beneath Oswego County’s enchanted waves than just salmon, trout, walleyes, pike, bass and delicious panfish. We offer trophy bottom feeders, too, particularly channel /br /Depending on whom you talk to, the lowly catfish ranks anywhere from numero uno to number three on the list of America’s most popular species. That’s because it’s found in every one of the Lower 48 States. And while blues and flatheads are household names because they easily reach 50 pounds, our channel cats ain’t no /br /Able to reach 40 inches and weigh over 25 pounds, these slimy, slippery beauties can rip 50 yards of line off your screaming reel as easily as waving goodbye. Their great strength, prodigious appetite, and looks only a mother can love, earn them a dedicated following of anglers from all walks of /br /Cousin Staash respects them so much he calls them the thinking man’s fish: “Just think, to catch a cat, all you gotta do is cast out some bait, put your rod down, kick back, relax and think about anything you want.”br /br /br /div align=”center”a href=””img style=”TEXT-ALIGN: center; MARGIN: 0px auto 10px; WIDTH: 400px; DISPLAY: block; HEIGHT: 262px; CURSOR: hand” id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5512354484471046210″ border=”0″ alt=”” src=”” //aTypical Oswego River /br //divdiv align=”left”strongThe South Rises Again/strongbr /Up until recently, northern catfish were generally considered the game of a highly specialized group called bank-fishermen. And they knew how to keep their mouths shut. Rumor has it their secret was propelled into the mainstream by Southern boys assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort /br /According to legend, most of these guys came up here and were immediately tempted by walleyes, kings, steelhead and the other glamorous names plastering the covers of popular fishing magazines. But glitter only blinds for a little while. Before long, the good old boys longed for a return to the simpler things in life. Some tried their luck on Oswego River catfish; and it was /br /strongTwo-Tiered Fishery/strongbr /This remarkable fishery consists of two /br /The first level runs from the mouth of the Oswego River up to Varick Dam. Influenced by fish migrations from Lake Ontario, the river carries a wide menu of treats year-round – from tiny morsels like alewives to mouthfuls like salmon – and catfish grow fat on the /br /Cats in the lower river are the biggest in the system. Fish up to 20 pounds are available, and “catheads” (die-hards who eat and sleep catfish) have 30-something-pounders swimming through their /br /The rest of the stream offers unusual catfish opportunities as well. Tied into the state canal system ever since Clinton’s Ditch was open for business in 1825, the Oswego River has been corrupted with a host of exotic critters ever since. Massive schools of everything from white perch and alewives to gizzard shad call its hospitable habitats /br /All this biomass dies eventually, creating ideal growing conditions for scavengers like catfish. They typically go from one to four pounds, but a lot of them tip the scale between five and /br /The best bait is a night-crawler, shrimp or a commercial preparation like Berkley’s GULP Catfish Dough. You’ll get a lot of small ones but even they fight well for their age. Larger specimens respond best to whole, large minnows or cut-bait – the best right now is a chunk of /br /Like their name says, channel cats like to hang out in deep, slow-moving channels. In addition, they like fast /br /This means the length and breadth of the Oswego River. Still, some spots are better than others and you can better your chances of scoring by fishing below locks, at the points of lock islands, and in the tailraces of power plants, especially along the edges of the current./divdiv align=”left” /divdiv align=”left”/divdiv align=”left”/divdiv align=”left”br //divdiv align=”center”a href=””img style=”TEXT-ALIGN: center; MARGIN: 0px auto 10px; WIDTH: 400px; DISPLAY: block; HEIGHT: 264px; CURSOR: hand” id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5512354306506660994″ border=”0″ alt=”” src=”” //aFather and son double./divdiv align=”center”br /br /a href=””img style=”TEXT-ALIGN: center; MARGIN: 0px auto 10px; WIDTH: 400px; DISPLAY: block; HEIGHT: 264px; CURSOR: hand” id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5512354297651884450″ border=”0″ alt=”” src=”” //aBoys and their /div/divdiv/divbr //divdiv class=”blogger-post-footer”img width=’1′ height=’1′ src=’’ alt=” //div