When the bite for other fish slows down in the heat of Midwest summers, you can count on channel catfish. They are biting in streams, lakes and many farm ponds.
“Catfish will bite most of the time, no matter what the water temperature,” said Daniel Vogeler, Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries technician. “They’re just as available from shore as boat.”
Bring along two coolers with ice, one to keep bait firm and fresh and another to keep your catch cold.
Catfish have a great sense of smell and taste. Try prepared dip baits, chicken livers, minnows or chubs, green sunfish, bluegill, crawdads, frogs, night crawlers or dead, but fresh, gizzard shad.
Lakes stratify, or form layers, this time of year, with cool, oxygen-deprived waters sinking to the bottom. Do not fish in water deeper than 8 to 10 feet.
Look for areas with vegetation, brush piles or rock. Fish the upper ends of the larger reservoirs where the water is shallower and baitfish like gizzard shad gather. Use baits fished on the bottom or suspended off the bottom with a bobber and let current or breeze move the bait to find active catfish.
Look for fish around downed trees and brush piles, but don’t overlook rock piles or other objects that deflect water and form a current seam.
Position your bait just upstream of brush piles so the scent of the bait is carried downstream to draw the catfish out. Anchor the bait with a heavy weight so it doesn’t drift into snags. If fishing the big rivers, try upstream and on the tips of wing dykes and wing dams.
Study conducted at Harlan
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is assisting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Kansas City District Office to determine the feasibility of a project to enhance sport fish populations at Harlan County Reservoir.
Although the water level is at a record high at Harlan, during summers with typical moisture, important fish habitats in some coves and bays become isolated from the main lake. The project would improve fish passage in and out of isolated coves during the late summer when water levels drop. The project would be funded by the Nebraska Game and Parks’ Aquatic Habitat Program and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 1135 Ecosystem Restoration Program.
A 30-day public notice period has begun. Those who wish to learn more about the project can visit www.nwk.usace.army.mil/Media/Public-Notices/Planning-Public-Notices. Those who wish to submit comments can email Laura Totten at Laura.A.Totten@usace.army.mil. Comments must be submitted on or before Aug. 20.
Recreation areas reopen
Several state recreation areas in the central portion of Nebraska have reopened to the public after closure due to flooding.
Union Pacific, Johnson Lake and Gallagher Canyon State Recreation Areas are all fully open to public use.
In addition, Medicine Creek SRA has reopened to public use, with the exception of four campsites in the Shady Bay Campground. An up-to-date list of park conditions can be found at OutdoorNebraska.org/weatherclosures.
High levels of algae at two lakes
A health alert is in effect for Willow Creek Lake in Pierce County and the southeast beach at Harlan County Reservoir in Harlan County.
The health alert was put in place after high levels of blue-green algae were detected at the lakes during testing by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.
It is recommended that visitors to Willow Creek Lake and Harlan County Reservoir avoid full body contact activities such as swimming, wading, skiing and jet skiing. Non-contact activities such as boating, fishing and camping are not affected by the alert.
Updated lake algae and bacteria levels are posted each week at deq.ne.gov.
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