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 Tips on Red River Trophys - Part (1) & Part (2)

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PostSubject: Tips on Red River Trophys - Part (1) & Part (2)   Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:07 pm

From - www.redrivercatfishcompany.com
By Karry Kyllo

My wife Pam and I caught 273 whopper channel catfish on the Red
River in 2006. There are no secrets to trophy channel fishing on
the success on the Red River nor are there any shortcuts, but there
are subtle differences that we've made in our approach to fishing
in the past several years that we feel has greatly increased our
trophy channel catfishing success.

What do we think is the most important aspect of our fishing that
we've changed to increase our catch rates of Red River trophy
channel catfish? For us, the answer's easy. We've consciously
changed our mental attitude or mental approach while fishing for
channel catfish on the Red River. Mental attitude is the most
dramatic change that we've made in our channel catfishing approach
over the past several years and we can't overemphasize enough what
a difference it's made for us. We believe that it can make a
difference for you as well. We would never compare the sport of
fishing with other sports or ourselves with athletes, because we
aren't, but we feel there are comparisons in the way in which we
mentally approach Red River channel catfishing that make a big
difference between consistently catching trophy size channel catfish
or catching mostly smaller fish with only an occasional trophy and
the way in which great athletes strive to get to reach the top of
their game. When interviewed after outstanding performances, great
athletes have stated time and again that they mentally envisioned
themselves succeeding. While we won't be hitting home runs, catching
touchdown passes or making the game winning baskets, we envision
ourselves catching trophy fish on every cast and we aren't satisfied
catching small fish. We have confidence in our abilities and our
fishing tackle. We realize that there are fewer trophy fish in the
Red River than small fish and we mentally prepare ourselves to be
satisfied catching fewer but higher quality fish. We try to approach
every outing on the river as a new game and we're mentally prepared
to search spot after spot to find trophy channel catfish if we have
to.

We've developed a routine that works for us when we go on the water.
We try not to fish memories every time out, we don't give up and we
don't get down on ourselves if we haven't found any big fish. We
try to fish at least one new spot every time out and better yet, a
new type of spot as well. We keep moving until we find big fish. We
WILL find them. We've proven that to ourselves time and again while
fishing on the Red River. In five minutes, a mediocre day on the Red
River can turn into a spectacular trophy fishing outing. We realize
that. When trophy channel catfish aren't where we think they will be
or where they were the last time we were on the water, we start
hitting every type of fishy type structure or area until we find
where they are holding. I once had a college physics professor that
referred to taking the brute force and awkwardness approach to
solving physics problems when finesse techniques simply aren't
working. Channel catfishing is exactly the same. Sometimes you have
to move a lot and make a lot of casts to find big fish. Just don't
allow yourselves to give up until you find them. It sounds like a
simple approach and it really is, but it can be a lot of hard work
some days. Don't think that the big fish aren't biting on a
particular day, because chances are that somebody can always figure
out where they are and how to catch them.

Proof of this is the annual results of the Cats Incredible
Tournament held each summer in on the Red River in East Grand
Forks, MN. The Cats Incredible Tournament is a channel catfishing
tournament that covers approximately 40 or so river miles
stretching north and south of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks with a
$4000 prize for 1st place. It annually attracts 150 two angler
teams for a two day tournament each summer. In this tournament,
some teams struggle to catch large fish while other teams do
extremely well catching large fish and the results reflect this
year in and year out. We've been humbled in this tournament, but it
proves my point. Luck? We don't think so. We think it's all in the
mental approach and ours hasn't been correct.

If we were doing well last time out, get on the river a week later
and can't get the big fish bites, we ask ourselves these questions.
Has the river level changed? Has the water temperature changed? Has
the wind direction or current changed? Could they be near spawning
sites? Have they gathered in holes or deeper runs? What has
happened to cause them to move? Learning to become aware of natures
signs and reacting correctly is a big step to consistently catching
more trophy channel catfish on the Red River. There are many things
to ask yourself and many mental notes to make in your search for
trophies. We have seen trophy fish gently mouth a bait for up to 30
minutes or longer before deciding to grab it and often times they
will just hold it without moving for a several minutes. Is there
just a small bend in one of our rods with an occasion twitch that
is barely detectable? It's probably a big fish holding on to the
bait. Small fish peck and big ones usually just twitch a bait. Wait
long enough and they will usually grab it. If it makes sense, a big
fish will sometimes bite like a small fish, but a small fish will
rarely bite like a big fish. Learn to recognize the difference.
When you do, if you detect a big fish bite, give a spot more time,
maybe half an hour more. Now you can concentrate on how to get them
to bite. Don't believe what you read about moving every 15 minutes
because it is simply not true. Big fish are wary creatures they
didn't reach trophy size by being careless. You've already got part
of the game won. You know there is a big fish in the area. Take
advantage of it. If you are fishing for channel catfish in a
complex, snag filled area and you have some indication that there
are big fish present, give it an hour before moving on. A good
general rule of thumb is to give complex, snag filled areas more
time for fish to find your bait. The currents within the snags make
it more difficult for channel catfish to follow the scent of the
bait and most times, the biggest fish are deepest in the snag. When
you find big fish and feel that you have caught them all in one
spot, duplicate the spot at your next stop. You'll eventually get a
feel for it. Lastly, don't necessarily believe the fishing reports
in the paper or on the internet. Go fishing when you can and
approach each outing with confidence in your abilities and
confidence that you will catch trophy channel catfish. We can't
count the number of times that we've read fishing reports saying
the fish aren't biting and channel catfish anglers may as well put
the fishing tackle away or that they are only biting on one bait,
etc., and we'll go out and catch numbers of trophy size fish and on
another bait than what was reported to be the only bait they'll
bite on. The reports may not be wrong, but you're only getting part
of the story.

There's much more to the mental attitude than I have described
here and much of it probably seems obvious, but then again maybe
not. I hope that you get my point though. Fishing for trophy
channel catfish only is a whole different mentality than just
trying to catch anything that will bite. If many of you are like
Pam and I, it's a whole new way to think about fishing and can be
thought of in exactly the same way in which some of you hunt for
trophy game. Think of fishing for trophy channel catfish on the Red
River in the same manner. Don't allow yourself to be satisfied with
anything but trophies and recognize that there ARE subtle
differences in mental attitude that will allow you to increase your
odds.

The tackle and related fishing methods that you use will greatly
determine the consistency of your big fish catches on the Red River
as well. This is a topic that is always open for debate, but I can
tell you this. What we are doing works and works well for us and it
suits our style of fishing. I will discuss only in general the
tackle that we use to catch trophy channel catfish and I'm not
saying our tackle and methods are the best, but they work for us.

The rods that we prefer to use are 9 foot, light action rods. We
started using them at the suggestion of a friend that also guides
for channel catfish on the Red River and we have found these rods
to be superior for use with circle hooks. The bites of large
channel catfish, that can often be detected only as twitches, are
easily detectable on these rods. The soft tips also allow the rods
to .load up. slowly before the resistance is detected by large,
wary fish. This soft, slow action allows a circle hook to embed
itself in the jaw of a large fish before the fish detects that
something is not right. We see many anglers using circle hooks on
rods that are too stiff and too short and the result is usually the
same. They have bad opinions about using circle hooks. They
couldn't be more wrong about circle hooks. Heavy shorter rods have
two effects. Large fish will drop the bait and not return when they
feel heavy resistance and if a large fish does grab a bait, the
fast action of these rods will not allow a circle hook to set
itself as it should and many missed fish will be the result.
Learning to use these longer rods with softer tips has increased
our catch rate of big fish dramatically. Circle hook fishing
success is all about the rods. Remember, also, that the angle of
the rod has to be favorable to use a long, soft, rod tip to your
advantage. Keep the rods in holders at a 45- 90 angle to the
direction of the line. This is extremely important. The correct rod
is of no use when the angle of the rod is incorrect.


Last edited by on Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Tips on Red River Trophys - Part 2   Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:12 pm

Tips on Red River Trophys Part 2

from www.redrivercatfishcompany.com
By Karry Kyllo

As I spoke of when I was discussing rods, we use exclusively
circle hooks while fishing the Red River. Generally, we use 8/0
circle hooks with offset points and upturned eyes, but we may
downsize if the bite becomes very tough or possibly sometimes very
late in the year after the water temperature drops below 40
degrees. We use 8/0 hooks because we have found big baits are
usually a key to big fish and we feel that an 8/0 hook allows us to
use very large baits and still have the hookpoint exposed. That is
one of the keys here. Put as much bait as you can get on a hook,
but ensure that the hookpoint is exposed. There is no doubt in our
minds that BIG FISH PREFER BIG BAITS. Always start with big baits
and downsize if you feel that you have to, but we have found
downsizing to be a rare occasion. We generally fish with big,
almost huge baits all year long. Along this same note, also ensure
that there are no scales on the hookpoint after impaling the bait
on the hook and check the sharpness of your hookpoint every time
you reel in your lines. An extremely sharp hookpoint is one of the
keys to circle hook success as well. We also use hooks with offset
points with upturned eyes because we found the hookset to be
exceptional with this combination. Quite frankly, we've never
experienced any reason not to use circle hooks and we miss very,
very few fish. We never use clickers and J-hooks and to those that
do I ask .Why?.. The sound of a clicker going off may be exciting
and sound cool, but it won't catch you any more trophy fish and the
method will only deep hook more fish, causing a higher mortality
rate on released fish. I believe out of all the channel catfish
that we caught in 2006, only two swallowed the hooks. Even then,
those two didn't appear to have life threatening injuries, so we
cut the lines and released them. We prefer to release almost every
fish that we catch and if you really want to do what is best for a
fish, use circle hooks and not J-hooks. A difficult thing to learn
is to exercise patience when using circle hooks. Resist the
temptation to grab the rod until the fish has hooked itself. If the
rod bends and the fish lets go, DO NOT reel it in to check the bait
until you haven't experienced a bite on that rod for at least 15
minutes. It is common for a big fish to mouth it numerous times
before it finally grabs the bait If you have to check the bait,
just move the rod slightly. If you can still feel the bait drop it
because the big fish may still be in the vicinity. If you think the
bait is gone, reel it in, rebait and toss it in EXACTLY the same
spot. Time and time again, a big fish will still be there and grab
it soon after you throw a new bait in front of it. Again the mental
game comes into play. Patience will greatly increase your trophy
channel catfish catching consistency.

The type of line that you use is also something to consider. We
prefer a braided line instead of mono and we use heavy line, 80
pound test for the main line with 60 pound test snells. There are
several reasons for this. We believe this type of line to be
superior in abrasion resistance to mono, especially important when
fishing around the downed trees that are so common in the Red
River. Another advantage of this type of line is that ultraviolet
sunlight does not break down this type of fishing line in the same
manner in which it breaks down monofilament. This line is a bit
more expensive initially than monofilament, but we only have to
respool our reels once before the start of a fishing season and
we've never noticed a decrease in strength through the year. We
think that's a major thing. We never worry about weak line being
the reason for losing a trophy fish and we don't want to have to
worry about losing a fish because the line may break. Trophy fish
many, many times relate to snags, falldowns or stumps in the river
and you can bet that the first place that they will go after they
grab the bait is into the wood. Heavy line puts you, the angler, in
control of a big fish and more often than not, you can steer your
trophy away from cover if you have the line to do so. If your
trophy does get caught in the cover, heavy line allows you the
chance to free it, often taking part of the cover with it to the
boat. If you can't free your trophy, from the cover, feed it some
line and occasionally, a big fish will swim itself out of trouble.
Heavy line also means far, far fewer broken snells and fewer broken
snells means more fishing time. The castability of this line is
also superior to monofilament line of similar test line. Exact cast
placement is extremely critical when targeting trophy fish and long
casts are often a must. A last advantage of heavier line is
survivability of a trophy fish. Get that trophy into the boat, snap
a picture and return it to the water as soon as possible. A
prolonged fight greatly increases the odds of fish mortality and
heavier line allows you to get it in the boat quickly.

The highly developed senses of trophy size fish make them more
susceptible to boat and motor noise also, so it is of extreme
importance to back up to within casting distance an area that you
will fish rather than driving over it first. Trophy channel catfish
didn't survive long enough to get to trophy size by being careless.
Also, keep the noise in the boat to a minimum while fishing. We
have noticed a greatly decreased catch rate in our boat when the
kids are with us and they are moving around and making noise. It's
like Elmer Fudd used to say .Be very, very quiet. We are hunting
rabbits.. A good rule to follow is to be very, very quiet, You are
hunting trophy fish. Lastly, we use nothing but baitcasting reels
and we NEVER use clickers as I mentioned earlier, but that is our
personal choice. We might be missing something by not using
clickers, but we see absolutely no advantage whatsoever of using
clickers. I know that we don't want our trophy fish heading for
cover that we won't be able to get them out of and with a clicker,
that is exactly what will be allowed to happen. We want to get
control of our big fish as soon as we can. We feel that the
combination of heavy line and circle hooks gives both the angler
and the fish advantages. We don't have to worry about break offs or
swallowed hooks which allows us to can get a trophy fish into the
boat and back into the water quickly and efficiently. We have the
drags on all of our reels set quite tightly as well. Unless the
fish is in the 18 pound . 20 pound class, we use almost no drag. We
have yet to pop a circle hook out of a big fishes mouth because the
drag is set too tightly and we have never broken a line on a trophy
channel catfish. If we find that the fish is very large when we
them nearer the boat, we will adjust the drag if necessary only at
that time. The key to landing Red River trophies is to keep the rod
tip up, keep the line tight at all times, and don't .pump. the rod
in the traditional sense. Use the rod tip to your advantage to tire
the fish and as you feel the fish tiring, reel in more line. Even a
very large channel catfish should only take several minutes to land
and for the benefit of the fish that you release (and we hope that
you practice catch and release as we do), get them into the boat
and back into the water as soon as possible. This is especially
important in warm water conditions.

If you read almost any publication or search any internet websites
these days about channel catfishing, almost all of them will
advertise a multitude of concoctions specially formulated to catch
catfish. Wicked Sticky, Rednecks. Catfish Bait Soap, Bill's Catfish
Bait, Cat Tracker Bait company....the list goes on. These baits may
all be used to catch channel catfish and even probably large
numbers of small fish, but if you want to consistently catch larger
Red River trophy channel catfish in the trophy class, don't use
them. In our experience, they just don't consistently appeal to
trophy size Red River Channel catfish. Remember, as I mentioned
earlier, trophy fish didn't live long enough to attain their large
sizes because they are easily fooled. Trophy fish reach old age
relative to their worlds by being wary and careful. A new scent or
taste that is foreign to their environment more times than not will
put them on their guard rather than put them into the feeding mood.
We're convinced that there aren't any secret baits or concoctions
that are going to consistently catch large fish on the Red River.
Red River trophy fish generally want baits that are native to their
environment and in our experience, it is usually a very good bet
that trophy fish can be caught on suckers, goldeye, creek chubs, or
frogs. Suckers and goldeye are our most consistent baits throughout
the year and we never go fishing without either if they are
available. Suckers you can buy at bait shops along the Red River
while you'll have to catch the creek chubs from small rivers in the
area, goldeye from the Red River or it's tributaries and frogs can
be bought at some baitshops later in the summer or you can catch
them in damp, marshy areas near the Red River. Goldeye can be
caught near dams, around snags or better yet, look for them
surfacing near the shorelines and fish for them where you see them
surfacing. You can often catch several dozen in a short time if you
are in the right spot. Put a small jig baited with a night crawler
1-4 feet below a bobber, toss it in to a likely goldeye spot and
wait for a bite. We usually search for goldeye at the same time we
are fishing for channel catfish and many times, if we are catching
goldeye, we are catching some nice catfish as well. We believe that
the trophy channel catfish relate to areas that contain high
numbers of goldeye for a reason. Goldeye are one of the favorite
natural sources of food for trophy channel catfish. If you find a
large number of goldeye or see goldeye breaking the surface, check
the area thoroughly for channel catfish because in our experience,
there are probably large fish nearby. It's natural for a predator
to follow its food source. At times, you can even see large channel
catfish feeding along the shorelines on small, young of the year
minnows, immature fish or goldeyes that gather near the shoreline.
You may not always catch these fish, but on more than one occasion,
we've seen large fish feeding near a particular shoreline, backed
into the area as to not spook the fish, casted into the area and
been rewarded with a trophy. The way we look at it, if you can see
them surfacing, you've already located them. Give it a try.

Mental attitude means everything when fishing for trophy channel
catfish on the Red River. Believe that you will catch trophy
channel catfish, visualize yourself catching trophy channel
catfish, and do the little things that will put the odds of
successfully finding them, catching them and landing them in your
favor and you will. Consistently.
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Tips on Red River Trophys - Part (1) & Part (2)
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