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home : features : nature May 24, 2016

8/12/2014 6:00:00 AM
Lake Mead still holds secrets
DON MARTIN/For the Miner
 Kristen Akers (left) and Bonnie Hendricks hold the big channel cat that Kristen caught at South Cove on Saturday morning.
DON MARTIN/For the Miner
Kristen Akers (left) and Bonnie Hendricks hold the big channel cat that Kristen caught at South Cove on Saturday morning.

Don Martin
The Great Outdoors

When you think about fishing on Lake Mead, I suspect that most anglers think about the striper fishing opportunities or maybe even fishing for largemouth or smallmouth bass.

But fishing for catfish?

Nope, bet that doesn't come to mind for many anglers who fish this mammoth man-made impoundment on the Colorado River.

Due to some insight provided courtesy of Chris and Bonnie Hendricks, friends of mine who reside in Golden Valley, I found out about a fishery that, to be honest, I didn't know existed.

Hendricks told me a few years ago that his family often fished for channel cats just north of South Cove

What was weird sounding to me was that they fished only during the daytime, when temperatures were well over 100 degrees. I asked if they had ever fished at night for the cats and they said no. Hmm, I mused, isn't night time when you are supposed to fish for catfish?

I saw photos of several of the cats they caught, and one weighed about 20 pounds. Hendricks told me that one day they had caught three fish that together weighed 40 pounds.

So last Saturday morning I met Chris and Bonnie, along with their son Drew and his girlfriend Kristen, and set out to see about this daytime catfishing.

As expected, due to the current low water conditions, we were not able to go to the exact spot where the Hendricks had often fished, but we were able to go to a spot where they assured me there were plenty of the whisker fish.

I was a true believer in one hour. In that time span, when the temperature was well over 100 degrees, we were able to catch 30 channel cats.

Yes, they tossed back 10 that they deemed "too small" but still, utilizing only one container of night crawlers, they had 20 good eating catfish in the ice chest.

So, out of bait, we headed back to the dock, a lesson learned for sure.

But the fishing lesson that morning didn't end there.

My sister-in-law Tammy Martin had driven up at 5 that morning to experience chasing striper boils. But due to a situation involving the boat trailer getting hung up on the pipe rail mat at the South Cove dock, we didn't get to go out before the Hendricks family arrived.

So as I was headed back to the dock with the Hendricks family I called Tammy and told her to go to Fisherman's Landing in Meadview and pick up some nightcrawlers, which Hendricks had assured me was the bait of choice for these cats.

As luck would have it, the only bait shop in Meadview was out of nightcrawlers, so I told Tammy to bring anchovies, frozen threadfin and gizzard shad I had in my bait freezer, along with chicken livers and even a pack of hot dogs, a sure-fire bait for channel cats. And I told her to bring the Borden kids, Ryan and Laura, and meet me at the dock.

Catfish are known to eat just about anything and aren't generally selective feeders. At least that is what I've been told.

Enter lesson No. 2.

Back at the dock we switch out people. The Hendricks family loads up and heads home while my new crew loads up.

Within minutes and with temperatures now hovering over 105 degrees, Tammy, Ryan, Laura and I are back on the same spot, tossing out every different kind of bait we had, ready to fill up the boat.

Well somebody forgot to tell Mr. Whiskers that the buffet was set and the feeding was to start.

In one hour, we had just one bite: I brought in one 6-inch yellow cat.

The only thing we collectively got was a good sunburn. Could it really be that these catfish would only bite on nightcrawlers?

I had a plan to find out. You see, I had Dan and Erin Butler coming up later that afternoon for what was to be my last scheduled fishing trip of the summer.

Maybe we would get some nightcrawlers and give it one more try, this time fishing after dark.

ICT - Dr. Mohtaseb

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