River Shoreline Secrets
by Brad Durick
For many catfish anglers shore fishing is the way to go. There are many reasons why people catfish from shore. Some fish from shore because its simple, some because it’s what they can afford and others because it poses a unique challenge that they have accepted. Whatever your reason for fishing from the bank, there are a few very simple tips that you can use to be more efficient and successful with your outings.
Off the Beaten Path
This goes for almost all anglers whether they fish from shore or a boat. They fish the spots that are easy to get to. In catfishing, the best spots are usually the spots that you can easily back the pickup to. Because it is easy for you to back up to it is also easy for everyone else to back up to.
To have consistent success get off the beaten path and away from the other anglers. Most of the time this means that the spots are more difficult to reach. With some simple research and a willingness to work a little harder than most can be a huge deal. You have to have the proper gear to be efficient and get where you want.
Do Your Research
There is some simple research that you can do to find the best off the beaten path shore spots. The first is some simple Google Maps recon to look at the river finding some spots that look like they may have potential to hold fish.
Second, you will want to do some personal recon. Walk in and take an actual look at the area you are thinking about fishing. Watch what the water is doing, where the current seams are and if there are any boils for flat spots that point to a hole or other structure in the area.
Third, check out the bank. Look around to see if the water has carved out a cut bank or if it is flat. This can confirm if there is a hole or a sandbar. Also, look up on the bank and see what the trees and plants look like. If there is a pile of deadfall on the bank of an outside corner the chances are there is a hole right below you.
Lastly, and optional is use a depth finder to do some research to prove what you think is there. Today there are many Bluetooth finders that hook to a smartphone and are inexpensive. Companies like Vexilar, Deeper or IBobber have what you need to do this. Hook the transducer to a snap swivel connected to a stout rod with some heavy line and toss it out letting the current pull it downstream. Make notes of depth changes and you can get a basic map of the area in time at all.
Another way to do this is find a friend with a boat to drive you over the area or ask an angler in the area for a few depth readings to get you started.
Many shore anglers don’t match sitting on a bank and efficiency. What bank fishing can be a slower way to fish there are some things you can do the be more efficient. By simply doing your research mentioned before you are already being much more efficient. When you fish an area, try different casts within the area. Cast further to try deeper and faster water then cast shorter and shallower. If you do not have other people fishing near you move up and down stream within your area trying different things. Normally, you can find three to five different spots to fish in just a few yards by simply adjusting your casting distance and direction.
Once you determine that an area is not working make a move. Pack up and go somewhere else. This can be a few hundred yards to a few miles depending on your form of transportation.
Moving is not only a way to be efficient. How much gear you have and how you carry it can also determine how efficient you are. I see many catfish anglers who literally pull a wagon load of gear. I have never understood why so much gear. Most of the time you don’t go through more than a few sinkers and hooks in a day of fishing so why carry everything you own.
Rather than carry everything on your excursion to the path less traveled get a good tackle backpack, containers to hold your tackle, bait and other supplies you may need. A simple Plano Stow Away tray, a dry box all tucked away in an E-Series backpack and you are now light and mobile.
Rods and reels are more of a personal preference. For people shore fishing in lakes or very large rivers you may want a 10 or even 12-foot rod to really get the bait out there. For smaller rivers a typical seven-foot six rod should be fine. A simple spinning reel with or without a bait runner is good or you can upgrade to a baitcaster with a bait clicker.
For the Red River where I fish, a seven-foot Shakespeare Ugly stick two-piece rod matched with an Abu Garcia Black Max spinning reel. There is not a huge investment into this rig and it can handle any channel catfish the Red can throw at it.
Shore anglers seem to think that the fish are only in the middle. For as long as I remember, I have seen people on shore heaving their baits as far as they can throw them. When fishing lakes this can be to your advantage because you need to cast over the shallow shoreline to the break.
I have seen many shore anglers heaving their baits as far as they can into the river and not catching fish when the fish are actually resting or running the shallow break line right at their feet. One time I witnessed this and pulled my boat in upstream of a group and began catching fish three feet from the shore. They noticed this and started just plopping their baits right there and instant success.
The point here is shallow river catfish are often overlooked by everyone and sometimes it is the best place to look. Shore anglers have it in their heads to get to where the boats can go when many times the best fishing is right in front of them. DON’T FORGET TO GO SHALLOW!
People fish from shore for many reasons. Some simply prefer it, others don’t own a boat while others just want to keep it simple. Whatever your reason for fishing from shore, you don’t have to let fate control your success. With simple research, preparation willingness to travel light and get off the beaten path will make a more enjoyable catfish outing.
Captain Brad Durick is a nationally recognized catfish guide on the Red River of the North, seminar speaker, and author of the books Cracking the Channel Catfish Code and Advanced Catfishing Made Easy. For more information go to www.redrivercatfish.com