“Kitty Cattin’” on the Tidal
Keith Barker & Dan Grulke
most fishermen relax by the fire, drinking coffee, and enjoying
there favorite winter indoor activity Capt. Keith and Dan can be
found on the Potomac River pursuing an American redneck pastime:
This isn’t your average shrimp, treble hook, and 5 pound wimpy
catfish adventure; we’re talking winter-harsh weather and
catfish as mean and brutal as a January ice storm. These trips
aren’t for the faint of heart however, but the fish and rewards
are high. This is
the time of year for a chance at the Maryland State Catfish
with any type of fishing bait selection is the most important
aspect of a successful monster catfishing trip.
These 30 to 60+ pound blue cat beasts can eat shrimp
cocktail snacks by the 100’s count, so big baits are in order.
Since catfish feed by sense of smell and sight, fresh
bait is in order.
Fresh, oily, cut-bait is essential and the mud shad (gizzard
shad) is hard to beat (not to be confused with the American Shad
or Hickory Shad which are illegal to use for bait on the Tidal
baits we have used include white perch, crappie, and bluegills
(make sure fish are of legal size and obey creel limit
regulations). Cut-gizzard shad is best in the winter-early
spring period and perch, crappie and bluegill (both live and
cut) work well during other periods of the year. We cut our bait
into square, soft-ball sized chunks and skin hook the bait on a
The hooks we use are VMC Nemesis 3x circle hook (8382) in
different sizes between 4/0 and 8/0.
We use smaller hooks when cats prefer smaller baits and
are taking the bait lightly (usually high pressure, blue bird
days) and bigger hooks 95% of the time.
The hooks are strong, sharp, hold their point well, and
are “straight-eye” which allows us to either snell the hook
(preferred method) or tie a uni or like knot to the eye.
A circle hook allows a monster catfish to run with the
bait and set the hook itself.
No hook set is needed; instead once the rod doubles over
the angler only gradually increase tension on the
rod/line/circle hook system in order to hook the fish.
correct line for this type of fishing is imperative. We prefer
25-pound test Sufix, Tritanium Plus, in chartreuse color. This
copolymer line is very abrasion resistant, easy to see, and
“slippery”. When you are fishing 4-8 rods and three or four go
down at once, it is important to be able to see your line. This
allows you to “weave” in and around other lines easily and the
“slippery” line prevents break-offs in case they do become
preferred rod is the 110170 Ugly Stick Catfish rod.
Your reel must have a good drag system and plenty of
line. The line, rod
and reel work as a shock absorber system to exhaust the fish and
make it safe to land these brutes.
Trust us, bringing green fish into your boat is a bad
idea. Wear them out
so they can be safely handled--or you will wish you had.
key to finding Cold Water Kats. During this time of year check
drop-offs adjacent to “deep water” and adjacent to flats.
Usually the bigger catfish will be holding on the deep
flat at the bottom of the drop-off behind some current break.
One key hot spot is the entrance to creek mouths where it
meets the main channel of the river. If you don’t get a bite in
20-30 minutes, try another spot.
Monster Cat fishing trip’s contact
Capt. Keith Barker. Remember
trophy season is February-March with size and numbers in
April-May and back again in the middle of July-November. For
specific questions about gear and tactics contact