Tech which makes Sense

Some of the most enjoyable fishing I’ve done in the Inland Northwest has been spending nights fishing for catfish on Sprague Lake.

One of the reasons I wanted to write an article about catfish fishing in Sprague Lake is that I recently learned of the WDFW’s (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) proposed plans to rehabilitate the lake this fall. It appears that the density of anglers has dropped in recent years to one of the lowest in the state. WDFW surveys say the lake attracts fewer than five anglers per acre annually. You can read the full story of Spokesman-Review’s Rich Landers on his website.

While you can fish for catfish during the day on Sprague Lake, I have always had the best results and experience at night.

I for one would miss the magic of catfishing at night in Sprague. My son and I usually head out with plans to be in the water before sundown. The best times for us are hot summer nights when the air temperature stays in the 60s and above after dark. Far enough from city lights, the stars overhead shine brightly and the band of our Milky Way can be clearly seen. The stars seem close enough to reach out and touch.

Another part of the magic is the swarms of bats, which feed on flying insects, swooping in so close that they often mark the line when you leave the tip of your rod in the water. In addition to being harmless to humans, bats eat their weight in mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects every night, which might otherwise be feeding on you. Despite this benefit, I still recommend the use of a good repellent spray or lotion that contains deet. The best I have found is the Avon product called “Skin-so-Soft”. It is by far the best smelling repellent I have ever used and it is still very effective.

Harper Island at the southwestern end of the lake is an extremely active bird nesting site and even at night the sounds of seagulls and other waterfowl fill the air. I have often wondered if the birds on the island ever sleep. If they do, you wouldn’t know it from the noises coming from there, even long after dark.

Since the nature of catfish fishing is a waiting game…much of that time is spent talking, telling stories of previous fishing trips, and whatever else comes to mind. We usually bring a small propane BBQ and cook burgers and hot dogs. Good flashlights are essential, and one of the foam-mounted headlamps that can be attached to your 12-volt battery can be very useful for navigating to and from the jetty, along the shoreline, and around Harper Island (see map above) at the southwestern end of the lake. Usually an angler holds the light for the person fighting the fish or head mounted lights can also be great. The east side of Harper Island has been our favorite spot for nocturnal cats, but I’ve heard from others that Cow Creek, at the southwestern end of the lake, is pretty good, too. Either location is within walking distance of the public launch at that end of the lake.

Now let’s move on to the equipment you will need for these monsters.

rods: First you will need a good strong rod. Any heavy to medium heavy rod that is 6 to 7 feet long will probably suffice. Ugly sticks will do the job well enough.

Line: The line requirements are pretty simple as well, 15 to 25 pound monofilament or braid or heavy test fluorocarbon. If you are fishing for trophies that are much heavier than 20 to 25 pounds, you may want to increase your line to 30 or even 35 pound test.

the right hook: The correct hooks may be the most important factor to consider. Since virtually every bite you get from your bait is swallowed, you want to make sure that when you set the hook you don’t gut or hook your fish. A circle hook will slide up the throat and then usually hook into the jaw.

In addition to setting without rod action, circle hooks are preferred in commercial fisheries because they hook and hold fish, even on slack lines. They also tend to snag fish in the jaw, causing less mortality than standard J hooks. Be sure to use a heavy gauge hook. Jacks have been known to straighten thin wire hooks.

The set of hooks: Using circle hooks requires some attention to your hook set. With reels with a clicker, you would set your drag light and turn on your reel clicker. When the clicker begins to click (indicating that the bait has been bitten), squeeze the drag and slowly bring the rod tip back in one smooth motion. Casting the hook too early or too aggressive can knock the bait out of the catfish’s mouth.

What bait to use? I have the best luck with a golf ball sized piece of fish on a size 3/0, 4/0 or even 5/0 circle hook. Trout chunks work great (but you didn’t hear that from me), and some people persist in using earthworms, chicken livers, stink baits, and even corn flakes, oats, and flour concoctions. The truth is that almost anything edible with a strong odor is likely to attract and entice a catfish to bite.

Coils: Without a doubt, big bait-casting style reels have the starting power to move these big fish. Spinning reels can and do work and are used by many catfish anglers. Just for fun, my 31 year old son hooked and played a large catfish with a kids Scooby-Doo stick and even his bottom reel could have carried him over the side of the boat if the line hadn’t snapped on the outboard motor. rail.

Other tackle: Some people use weights to keep their baits on the bottom. With a big chunk of fish on your hook, I haven’t found it necessary. Also, the rocky bottom of Sprague can cause your weight to hang on the rocks. Some cats like to roll when hooked up, so a good ball bearing swivel can be an advantage. Bobbers can be a good idea both from the point of view of being a bite indicator and (if you are blowing slowly across the surface) you can drag your bait along with it and present it over a larger area. I prefer to watch my line and the tip of the rod. Usually there is not much question when you have a catfish. Last but not least, a good big net is an essential element for navigating these behemoths.

The fight: I’ve heard some people say that catching a big catfish is like pulling a big log, or some other kind of nonsense. These comments are usually made by someone who has never caught a large catfish before. I can attest that a good sized Sprague Lake catfish usually puts up a great fight.

Get there: The city of Sprague is only 37 miles from Spokane, WA. After exiting I-90, head through town to South Shore Highway and follow it to the public access road near the southwest end of the lake.

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