A week ago my friend Brad and I visited Powerton Lake in Pekin, IL. The target was blue catfish, which are stocked in the warm-water cooling lake. Brad brought a cast net, and we took turns trying to figure out how to use it. Neither of us were very good, but we did manage to catch plenty of small threadfin shad to use for bait.
Threadfin Shad (Dorosoma petenense)
The weather was great, but unfortunately we spent the day catching tiny channel catfish instead of the blue catfish we were hoping for. Nonetheless, we were catching open water fish on a sunny day in January, so we weren't complaining!
Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
Today I couldn't find anyone to join me to try Powerton again, so I made the trek over to Pekin by myself. The weather was not pleasant. It snowed all day, and it was just warm enough that the ground became a muddy mess. Bleh!
I put out two rods, each with a 4/0 and 8/0 hook suspended off the bottom with a length of line to a pyramid sinker. Cut channel catfish was the bait. It didn't take long before one of my baitfeeder reels began to click. I let the fish run for about 10 seconds and then picked up the rod and put tension on the line. With such heavy gear, the fight was pretty short. It was a blue catfish! It was only 26 inches, but it was my first so I was quite happy.
Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) - new hook & line species #263
That's an 8/0 hook in its mouth. It's a little big for this fish, but for a 75 lb blue catfish (which are in Powerton) it would be about the right size to deal with their larger jaws.
In hindsight I should have tried microfishing for a threadfin shad...