Fly fishing for catfish

Fish Sticks

Fish Sticks

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Anyone done it with repeatable success? I live near the susky in the perry/dauphin/Cumberland/Lancaster/York area and a number of tributaries to the susky and have always wondered if any one is targeting them in the area with any consistency/success? If so what species and what techniques?
 
krayfish2

krayfish2

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It's fairly common to stick a few channels on a small steamer or on top during heavy hatches. Flatheads are tougher to come by. I have half hearted attempts for flatheads but struck out so far. Maybe this year I'll buckle down and give a better effort.

Buggers, clousers, sparkle minnows all will catch channels. White poppers and gurglers can work for top action especially during strong Cahill or white fly hatch. During the white fly, you can catch any fish in the river except for musky. The all feast...bass, chubs, big cats and 20-30# carp. They pull really hard so hang on tight and you better have way more than a 5 wt
 
Fish Sticks

Fish Sticks

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It's fairly common to stick a few channels on a small steamer or on top during heavy hatches. Flatheads are tougher to come by. I have half hearted attempts for flatheads but struck out so far. Maybe this year I'll buckle down and give a better effort.

Buggers, clousers, sparkle minnows all will catch channels. White poppers and gurglers can work for top action especially during strong Cahill or white fly hatch. During the white fly, you can catch any fish in the river except for musky. The all feast...bass, chubs, big cats and 20-30# carp. They pull really hard so hang on tight and you better have way more than a 5 wt
Much appreciated, I have a 10 ft 8-weight I plan to dead drift/swing buggers/clousers bouncing the bottom with some shot. I’m assuming when no hatches your hugging bottom or are you fishing mid column when going sub surface for them? I’d also like to try my home stream at night and see if any cars or smallies will hit at night.
 
tomgamber

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Channels are the most consistent victims. I assume because of their feeding habits but bullheads (which will eat anything) are the only other catties I've hooked. Never hit a white fly hatch so...
 
Fredrick

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My best success has been on the lower susky with a black wooly bugger with rubber legs size 2.
I cast down stream in the deeper areas close to moving water and use short strips with pauses. And man do they hit the fly like a freight train
 
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krayfish2

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Like Fred mentioned you have to figure out location where they're likely to hang. If it's a natural damn or something like that they seem to be in the shallow fast water sometimes and other times they'll slip back into the deeper hole below it. You really don't have to bottom bounce so to speak. We've had a lot taking the mid part of the water column. Just show them something that looks like food and move it slow in front of them. They'll eat it and they pull really hard
 
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JeffK

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I've never had consistent luck in a river for catfish on a fly, but at a pond where we give fly fishing lessons they bite well on large white buggers. The first time I taught there I was warned about the teeth on the larger channel cats, but didn't really take it seriously. First cat I went to remove the fly with bare hands and it really clamped down on me and drew blood - was more careful after that.

Also, one day a cold front slowed down the action so I tied a size 12 soft hackle on to my student's tippet and told him to cast for sunnies in the shallows to get some action. A muskie came out of nowhere and grabbed the fly. He even landed it! I never saw that again, but you never know what can happen when fishing.
 
krayfish2

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If you get to a spot where it's a natural rock dam type of obstacle and it's a long riff that is 2-5' deep, run a bh black bugger on the bottom and a yellow or white bugger 18"-24" above it. Run an indi high enough to let the black bugger get within a foot of the bottom. You can dead drift one cast, slow pulse it on the next cast and then slow swing as it turns into a pool.

It may not be stylish or a dream to cast but you will hit some channels that way, maybe a sucker or a big bass that is neutral to feeding but can't resist it hanging in his face.
 
Fish Sticks

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If you get to a spot where it's a natural rock dam type of obstacle and it's a long riff that is 2-5' deep, run a bh black bugger on the bottom and a yellow or white bugger 18"-24" above it. Run an indi high enough to let the black bugger get within a foot of the bottom. You can dead drift one cast, slow pulse it on the next cast and then slow swing as it turns into a pool.

It may not be stylish or a dream to cast but you will hit some channels that way, maybe a sucker or a big bass that is neutral to feeding but can't resist it hanging in his face.
Thanks for all the great tips, I’d really like to fish the susky hard this July and August. I know some people have caught flatheads on the fly rod I’ve seen a couple online. I figure you would probably have to use a musky set up with big flies? I have friends that tournament fish the susky and occasionally find small flat heads floating that are choking to death on smallies in mid to high teens. I’ve also heard reports of flatties burping up 2 lb smallies. One of the guys had a PAFB live well inspection and the flat head burped up a 10” smallmouth and he had to talk the WCO out of a ticket because the thing had obviously been digested and burped up by the flathead in the live well with it.
 
Dave_W

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If you get to a spot where it's a natural rock dam type of obstacle and it's a long riff that is 2-5' deep, run a bh black bugger on the bottom and a yellow or white bugger 18"-24" above it. Run an indi high enough to let the black bugger get within a foot of the bottom. You can dead drift one cast, slow pulse it on the next cast and then slow swing as it turns into a pool.

It may not be stylish or a dream to cast but you will hit some channels that way, maybe a sucker or a big bass that is neutral to feeding but can't resist it hanging in his face.
This is good advice.^
Channel catties can indeed be aggressive, but getting them to eat a fly can be very hot or cold. Much of the time, they aren't in the mood. However, in my experience, when you see a cattie in shallow water with current (as Krayfish describes above), look carefully - there are likely multiple others in the vicinity. When catties are laid up like this in riffles, they're often hot to trot. Although it's hard to see 'em in low light or cloudy weather, they are more likely to eat under such conditions. For this reason, dead drifting or swinging streamers in current on summer evenings can hook you up with Mr Whiskers. If you stick a cattie, keep working that spot as there are almost certainly others nearby willing to eat.
 
Fish Sticks

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This is good advice.^
Channel catties can indeed be aggressive, but getting them to eat a fly can be very hot or cold. Much of the time, they aren't in the mood. However, in my experience, when you see a cattie in shallow water with current (as Krayfish describes above), look carefully - there are likely multiple others in the vicinity. When catties are laid up like this in riffles, they're often hot to trot. Although it's hard to see 'em in low light or cloudy weather, they are more likely to eat under such conditions. For this reason, dead drifting or swinging streamers in current on summer evenings can hook you up with Mr Whiskers. If you stick a cattie, keep working that spot as there are almost certainly others nearby willing to eat.
Great advice and much appreciated. I know alot of people tight-line small crayfish jigs for smallies when they are tight lipped in some of the riffle-run areas in the river I always wondered how many channels they got into doing that. Also wonder if night time too water would be effective. I will try mousing once the river this summer as well.
 
krayfish2

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I've caught plenty on rapala floating minnow. They've hit it on full speed cranking as well as blowing it up while dead drifting it on the surface. They'll eat tubes, soft baits, crankbaits flies and just about anything else. Flatheads seem to only show interest in fish patterns (just my experience). Had a flathead hit a rapala floating minnow so hard, snapped the lure in 3 pieces! We had to chase it. I did land it on 8 lb line and it was probably 12#. Without being in a boat where we could chase, I was way under gunned. They are violent and strong.
 
Fish Sticks

Fish Sticks

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I've caught plenty on rapala floating minnow. They've hit it on full speed cranking as well as blowing it up while dead drifting it on the surface. They'll eat tubes, soft baits, crankbaits flies and just about anything else. Flatheads seem to only show interest in fish patterns (just my experience). Had a flathead hit a rapala floating minnow so hard, snapped the lure in 3 pieces! We had to chase it. I did land it on 8 lb line and it was probably 12#. Without being in a boat where we could chase, I was way under gunned. They are violent and strong.
Damn sounds like game changer will get job done. Megan Schall is doing a study using molecular techniques to test for DNA of flathead stomach contents in the Susquehanna drainage I think. Can’t wait to see the results, will post on here when I see final publication. I am wondering if we are going to see threatened Chesapeake log perch, eels or other species of conservation need turn up. From what I hear from the tourney bass guys I’d be shocked if smallies aren’t a staple. You also wonder about rock bass/redbreast sunfish.

 
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Striperbobby

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Anyone done it with repeatable success? I live near the susky in the perry/dauphin/Cumberland/Lancaster/York area and a number of tributaries to the susky and have always wondered if any one is targeting them in the area with any consistency/success? If so what species and what techniques?
I sometimes use a bass popper with a Woolybugger dropper and get them when bass fishing on the susky in the areas you mentioned. When the white fly hatch in July is going on you can get them on the popper . Very exciting to get a decent size channel cat on the surface. It’s as close to salt water fishing as you can get in freshwater in my opinion.
 
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