Catfish season is upon us |

Catfish season is upon us

These hot August days are often referred to as the dog days of summer. This does not preclude fishing adventures, but it suggests nighttime expeditions to escape the heat.

This is the time of year for good catfish angling at many of the reservoirs in the foothills. Catfish are actively looking for food at night and that is when most of them are caught. Good lakes in our area are Collins, Scotts Flat, and Oroville. At Collins Lake, a good area is down by the dam in the overflow camping area. Lake Oroville, by the spillway, has been producing some rather large specimens. In the past week there have been a number of channel cats landed more than 20 pounds. The largest reported was a 32-pounder caught on cut mackerel.

A good plan, if you are interested, is to arrive before dark to stake out a likely shoreline location. The backs of coves are preferred. You want to set up before you lose daylight and start stumbling over shoreline obstacles.

Some catfish anglers set up rather elaborate feeding stations. These can include lawn chairs, lanterns, potato salad, sandwiches, chips, a cooler of adult beverages and a camp fire, if permitted.

This is more of a contemplative sport than an action sport requiring electrolyte replenishment. Quantity is as important as quality. One of the most common pitfalls of this endeavor is to run out of supplies before the fish start to bite. You have to be in this for the long run. A few successful catfishing expeditions have been completed by midnight, but the most memorable ones last well into the wee hours of the morning. Once the homo sapien’s feeding station is established then the catfish tackle is set up.

Bait fishing on the bottom is the name of the game.

Cut mackerel, chicken livers, night crawlers or even power bait are good alternatives. A bell on the end of your rod will signal you when the catfish have found your bait.

Don’t go undergunned when it comes to tackle. Fish 10 pounds or larger are available in most of our local lakes below 3000 feet in elevation. Your sinker will be on the bottom and hangups are to be expected. Heavy line will be helpful retrieving your rig to check the bait. It can be difficult to tie on a new hook after a few hours of serious cat fishing after sun down.

During these dog days of summer, with 100-plus degree days possible, it is reassuring to note that there have been no cases of heatstroke reported among catfish anglers between dusk and dawn.

This is definitely the safe fishing alternative.

Salmon fish counts over the Red Bluff Diversion Dam have increased from 12-18 per day last week to more than 60 fish per day now.

Feather River salmon fishing ranges from fair to good depending on the day, in the Oroville area. Fuller Lake was planted last week. Be prepared to fish at the 5 to 15 feet in depth, where my sources report the best success.


Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. He may be reached via e-mail at

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