Fishing for Catfish: Keep it Simple


Anglers pursue catfish in a variety of ways, including using bank poles, trotlines, jugs, yo-yo’s and rod and reel combinations. My wife Lotte and I are quickly turning our focus toward fishing for catfish from the bank with our rod and reels. We have been catching several catfish every night we go out. They have not been the large lunkers we catch on trotlines and bank poles, but they have been the perfect size for the skillet.

Many anglers don’t have the luxury of owning a boat or just don’t want to mess with putting one in and taking it out of the water on a nightly basis. There are many lakes that provide good fishing opportunities without the use of a boat.

We’ve found such a lake, and we’ve had success fishing from its banks. The CIPS power plant lake near Newton, Ill. has many catfish just waiting to be caught.

Arriving an hour or so before dark is when we get our gear ready. We don’t have high-tech equipment, just a couple of Zebco rod and reel combos, number 4 treble hooks, a landing net, lanterns, bug spray, camping chairs and a bucket or wire basket to put our catch in. As far as bait, there are a few different types we have been using with success every night. An old staple has been using chicken livers, which have been producing. We also have been fishing with stew meat bought at the local grocery store, which has put many fish in our bucket. Another good bait is dough bait manufactured right here in Illinois. Cole Cheese Bait is made in Toledo, and is quickly catching on with the catfish.

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We’ve been able to land a few fish as we wait for darkness to set in, but when the stars begin to shine the bite is really on. With our bait presentation setting on the bottom of a lake, it does not take long to feel the thud of a fish getting up close and personal. We set the hook, and the fight is on. Before we know it we have a fish in the bucket.

It’s fun to run bank poles all night long, but fighting a fish with a rod and reel outfit is more enjoyable. Not knowing what is about to strike and then finally feeling it causes my heart to run high with anticipation.

Illinois has plenty of waters available for anglers wishing to use the bank. Enjoying the stars, listening to the owls talk back and forth to one another with the moon reflecting off the water’s surface is a calm everyone should experience. My wife and I get to experience the beauties that Mother Nature provides while also being able to fish for hours.