Fishing in Lake County: Channel Catfish

It tastes with its body, has cat-like whiskers, and the biggest ones can weigh as much as a seven-year-old boy. It’s the channel catfish.

It may be news for some, but channel catfish are delicious. Once you get the thick skin off, you’ll find that the meat is white, crisp and juicy. Breaded and deep-fried, broiled or pan-fried, you’re in for a great meal.

Channel catfish are primarily bottom feeders. During the day, they seek out dark, deep pools, with submerged logs, rocks or other debris. Night is their favorite feeding time.

Like all catfish, channel catfish lack scales and instead have a thick, tough skin. They also have exceptional senses of smell, taste and touch—using their eight ‘whiskers’ and taste buds along the surface of their body to find food at night and in muddy water. Channel catfish can grow up to 50 pounds, but, realistically, 10 pounds would be a great catch. Five pounds is average.

You can land channel catfish with a lightweight spincasting setup. But even a throw line will do. A popular bait is an odorous blend called "stink bait,” but channel catfish will also hit on pieces of meat, worms, and artificial bait. Be patient; catfish are slow eaters.

And take care when handling a catfish. They have three sharp, poisonous spines— one in the back fin and one in each in the side fins.

Nighttime or daytime, it’s the right time to fish for channel cats in the beckoning lakes and rivers of Lake County.

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