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Ok, how would you like to have the ultimate fishing raft that you can camp on while you fish all night anywhere on a lake. Your own personal floating dock to fish from but that you can disassemble and tow on the smallest flatbed trailer or truck bed.
Well a year ago I figured out how to build the ultimate fishing raft. I volunteer for a troop of Boy Scouts at my church and when they asked me to plan an annual high adventure for the boys, we built several of these massive rafts and floated the James River in Virginia on them.
There were 12 boys and three adults who floated with us and they all fit on three of these raft along with all their gear and supplies for the entire trip. At the end of the day we pulled the boats onto shore and camped on them.
These rafts were incredible fishing platforms. They are ultra-stable wide so you can walk around and cast from anywhere on the raft with ease. The floated like corks and you could go class II rapids sideways or backwards and it did make a difference. I caught a tremendous number of small mouth bass floating down the James on those rafts.
How to Build the Rafts
The rafts are constructed of three or four 4’x 8’ raft units attached together with 2×4 lumber on each side of the units. Each raft unit is kept afloat with ten 18 gallon sterilite storage bins that are bolted to the bottom.
The rafts are maneuvered by two 8’ 2” x 2” rods that are coupled together by a section of 2” pvc pipe. The 8’ lumber is rounded by cutting the corners off with a table saw. This makes a great 16’ push pole. These are long enough to maneuver the rafts anywhere along the upper James River.
Bellow I have included a supply list of all the raw materials you need and the sections you need to cut them into. Additionally you can see a video of How to Build the Ultimate Fishing Raft.
|Plywood||15/32 all weather plywood (treated)||4’x8′||1|
|The outside edge piece of decking||3 3/4″ (minus 1/2 blade width) x 8′||2 per sheet of plywood|
|the door lids||16 7/8 ” (minus 1 blade width) x 8′||2 per sheet of plywood|
|the center strip of decking between the two doors||6 3/4 (minus 1 blade width) x 8′||1 per sheet of plywood|
|Lumber||1x4x8′ untreated pine lumber||.75″ x .3.5″ x (8’+ extra)||6|
|the long ends||96″ sections||2|
|the middle beam||94.5″ sections||1|
|the short end pieces||46.5″ sections||2|
|the cross members between beams||22 7/8″ sections||8|
|the joint reinforcement||2″ sections (used end pieces from other cuts)||4|
|Lumber||2x4x(12′ or 16′) treated||(strips’ ends should be melted)|
|For connecting indivdual rafts together||2x4x(12′ or 16′)||4|
|Dowel||5/8″ x 5/8″ x 36″ square wood dowel||5/16″ hole through short middle|
|the wood washers that insert into the tubs handles||2″ Sections||20|
|Push Poles||2″ x 2″ x 8′ pine square poles||1/2″ hole @ ends: Short wy: 2 ” from end|
|Octangular: 45◦ cuts long ways @ corners (1/2″ from corner)||8’+||4|
|Hardware||Description (genearl)||Description (precise)|
|Attaches tubs to plywood deck & connect push poles||2 1/2″ x 1/4″ [1/4-20 thread] hex carriage bolts||20|
|attaches 2×4 to indivdual rafts||5 1/2″ x 1/4″ [1/4-20 thread] hex carriage bolts||4|
|connect 1×4 elements together and PVC to push pole||1 5/8″ exterior wood screws (grip rite)||66|
|connect plywood to 1 x4 and for joint reinforment pieces||1 1/4″ exterior screws (grip rite)||125|
|one to secure tub, one to keep bolt from falling out||1/4″ [1/4-20 thread] nuts||40|
|inbetween bottom of decking and nut||1/4″ flat washers||20|
|inbetween hex carriage bolt top and plywood deck top||3/8″ washers||20|
|used for storage and floatation||18 gallon sterilte tubs [23 1/2″ x 18′ x 15 1/2′]||10|
|Wing nuts for attaching 2×4 to rafts and connecting push poles||Wing nuts 1/4″ [1/4-20 thread]||4|
|PVC pipe for coupling 2 8′ push pole sections||1′ x 1 1/2″ diameter thin walled PVC||2|
Even if you are a stranger to this website you should already know my opinion regarding catching catfish and carp. Get out there and try it if you haven’t already.
However, we have some amazing native freshwater fish species here in North America and many of the best are utterly ignored by the mainstream fishing media. If you love to catch fish and you live in North America, this list should be your fishing-bucket list. Put down the bass rod for a few weekends and get out there and be prepared to have your mind blown.
I usually don’t need to convince people that alligator gar should be on their list of fish to catch. You show them a picture and all the convincing is done. These mammoth prehistoric fish are native to the Deep South, with the biggest specimens usually found in eastern Texas and Louisiana. The largest alligator gar ever record was 9’6” long and 365 lbs. These fish are often caught on cut bait using the same tactics that a trophy cat fisherman would use….only BIGGER.
White Sturgeon are native to the west coast from Mexico to Canada but there are few fishable populations left outside of the North West. White sturgeon grow very slowly. They take 14-18 years to reach sexual maturity, the spawn only once approximately every 4 years and they can live to be 100 years old. The largest sturgeon ever caught on a rod and reel was caught by Michael Snell of Salisbury, England in the Fraser River, British Columbia. It weighed about 1,100 pounds and was 12 feet, 4 inches. It was released.
There are five species of buffalo. Small mouth buffalo, black buffalo, fleshy lipped buffalo, Usumacinta buffalo and large mouth buffalo. Buffalo are not related to carp but are a member of the sucker family and native to North America. The largest of the three buffalo is the small mouth buffalo. The record is 88 lb caught in Lake Wylie, NC by Tony Crawford. Buffalo can be caught using modern carp fishing tactics and baits.
These amazing looking monsters are incredible to see in the water. Because these beasts are mostly plankton feeders most people catch them by snagging. The Largest paddlefish in North America was caught on rod and reel in Montana in the Missouri River by Larry Branstetter. It weighed 147 lb 8 oz and was 77” long.
Bowfin are another prehistoric native fish that is found across the south. Bowfin are aggressive predators that prefer slow shallow water with lots of cover. They can be amazing to catch on top water using bass gear. The largest bowfin ever caught on rod and reel was 21 lb 8 oz from Forest Lake in South Carolina by Robert Harmon
When you catch a long nose gar your first thought is “How badly do I want my lure back?” Those teeth are wicked but worth the risk. Gar a loads of fun to catch. These fish are tremendous predators. They love minnows and live in backwater creeks and rivers across the south. You can make killer gar lure using nothing but frayed white nylon rope on the end of your line. The frayed rope tangles those teeth and catches the gar better than most hooks would. The biggest long nose gar ever caught were 41 lbs from the Red River in Oklahoma and 41 lbs from Lake Panasoffkee Florida.
Here is where I begin to show my Alaskan roots. The burbot is the only freshwater relative of the ling cod and it is found in Alaska, Canada, The Great Lakes and they were fished to extinction in the UK. The burbot is a popular fish to target when ice fishing deep lakes and large rivers. It is typically caught on salmon eggs near the bottom. The largest burbot in North America was 24 lbs 12 oz, caught in Lake Louise Alaska.
Sheefish are rightly known as the tarpon of the north. They look like a tarpon, they are caught using similar tactics and they fight/jump like a tarpon. Sheefish are found in central Alaska in the Yukon, Makenzie, Pah and other large rivers. The largest ever was 53lb from the Pah River in Alaska.
Grayling are not big fish. They are slightly smaller than the average trout, but they are (in my opinion) one of the most gorgeous fish in North America. Grayling are also extraordinarily fun to catch on a lure or fly rod. A small Meps or Super-Duper on an ultra light is a deadly combo. An elk hair caddis or Griffith gnat will also do the business well. Grayling rise to a dry fly like no other fish. Grayling can be found in high mountain lakes and stream of the west, Canada and Alaska. The largest grayling ever was 4 lbs 13 oz and caught in the Ugashik Narrows in Alaska.
Freshwater Drum are good sized, plentiful, tasty, and they will hit just about any lure or bait. They prefer clear water with sandy or gravelly bottoms are found along the east coast and parts of the Midwest. The largest freshwater drum was 46 lbs from Spirit Lake in Iowa.
Virginia is one of the best cat fishing locations in the United States. It is absolutely amazing. The largest blue catfish (143 lb) in the world has come out of Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake) on the North Carolina/Virginia border. The James River is one of the best blue catfish rivers in the world with 60 lb catfish being common. Fishing guides like Chris Eberwien who fish the James River every day give a 30 lb catfish money back guarantee to their clients that is how confident they are in their ability to catch large cat fish.
The tidal Potomac is quickly becoming an amazing blue catfish fishery as the catfish grown with the rebounding gizzard shad and herring populations.
The middle James River, Smith Mountain Lake, the Rappahanock and the Occoquan Reservoir are great location for flathead catfish. And channel catfish can be found everywhere.
Big blue catfish are in all of the big tidal rivers of Virginia and Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake). The tidal rivers and Chesapeake bay are home to commercial blue catfish fishing that provide the US with catfish fillet and live blue catfish that are used to stock watersheds across the US.
Anywhere in Virginia where you find large schools of shad or herring you will find trophy blue catfish. These large 2-3 pound shad are the perfect bite size for 50+ lb blue catfish.
In Virginia the ultimate trophy blue catfish bait is cut shad. On the James river 10 to 12 oz leads on a slider with 10/0 circle hooks and 1/3 a 3 lb shad is the ideal giant blue cat bait.
Cut shad works everywhere but it can be hard to get in many places, including the Potomac river where harvesting tidal shad and herring is not permitted. Cut blue gill, clams, halibut pellets, chicken liver and even worms work well.
Hi-low rigs are very popular for bank fishing for blue catfish across Virginia and in the large tidal rivers.
Channel Catfish are found through out Virginia and 4-5 lb channel cats are common. The state record channel catfish came out of the Rappahannock River at 31 lbs 8 ozs. Channel catfish are feisty and the action can be super hot. Cut bait fish, crab flavored boilies, halibut pellets, chicken liver, worms, punch bait, stink bait and works really well with channel catfish.
Channel catfish in Virginia tend to be along the shore lines and emergent weed beds in the summer time and in the deeper channels in the winter.
My favorite rig for catching channel catfish in Virginia is a fish finder rig with a 4/0 Gamagatsu circle hook and a 2″x2″ piece of cut bluegill or shad.
Virginia does not have the largest flatheads in the states but it still has some great flathead rivers and lakes. Smith Mountain lake and the Middle James river are well known for their flat heads. The New River is also pretty decent. The State record flathead came out of Occoquan reservoir at 66 lbs. 4 oz. The Occoquan reservoir has a small population of flatheads but they are very big.
The best rigs for catching flathead catfish in Virginia is using live bait on a fish finder rig or under a bobber. Flatheads lover live bait and it can be hard to catch them on dead bait sometimes. You can also catch flatheads on lures.
So remember, Virginia cat fishing is some of the best in the US, so if you live in the Virginia area and you have not gotten out and caught some catfish don’t put it off any longer.
Cat fishing in South Africa has never been as popular as it should. Most fresh water guys want to catch bass and carp, these 2 species represent about 90% of the fresh water angling done with only a couple of us die-hards specializing in catfish. But for me, these amazing fish have turned from an interest to a hobby to an absolute obsession and my passion in life. My whole world revolves around the next catting trip. I just need to know what’s swimming in the water in front of me.
Here in Southern Africa we have 2 main species of catfish, the African Sharp tooth Catfish (referred to as a barbel) and the Vundu . The Vundu , unfortunately for me, is not found in South Africa. Both these fish will easily reach and get over the 80lb mark, with specimens of both being caught over 100lbs. In my opinion we have not seen the really big fish come out yet. I believe that fish up to 200lbs are swimming around our waters waiting for me to find them.
The small barbel are easy to catch and generally hold in a large shoal, I can remember one outing when I caught seven fish in under an hour, the bait didn’t even reach the bottom before the shoal was on it. Shoal fish are generally around 8lb in size. When I find a shoal, and I’m after bigger fish, I pull my baits out the water and move to a new spot. Large barbel are generally solitary animals, and being like a grumpy old man, dislike any form of disturbance and will leave an area to get away from the noisy youngsters in the shoal.
Barbel, like most catfish, hunt more actively at night than during the day. This lends itself into the way most of us fish for them. Bank angling is the most widely used angling method, so we camp over a night or two with baits in the water. This can be hit and miss, especially when trying to land decent fish. Also the novice angler can get horribly frustrated with many blanks experienced flogging the water with no fish on the bank.
The normal procedure is to paddle big bait out as far as you can and drop it. However, this can be a waste of time if you do not put your bait in the right spot. Fish are moving around so one needs to understand how and why they are moving and what structure they are using to move along.
I will usually fish 3 rods, 2 with medium sized bait and one with either a large live bass or carp or a big cut bait. The medium sized baits I will place, one shallow one further out and one in the deep water. While placing the bait I will use a portable fish finder on my canoe to find structure and cover I know fish will use.
Any ledge or drop off is worth a very good look, and if I find a good slopping drop off, I know fish will be holding on it all night. My job is to find what depth on the drop off they are feeding on. Once you find the cats you will have a good evening. It is not uncommon to catch 7 to 10 fish a night, but most often it is 2 or 3.
Because we are fishing a very big expanse of water, we need to find the paths these fish are using to get from feeding spot to feeding spot. Or we need to find anywhere that bait fish like to hold. I place bait about 50m away from a spot like this and one close. That way I can try get the fish before he moves into the feeding zone and not disturb the rest of the fish feeding there.
As far as bait goes I am a natural bait man. These catfish can be extremely fussy at times and downright greedy at others. Summer the fish have eaten well in spring and slow down on the feeding slightly, now they eat what they want not was is there. So type of bait and presentation become extremely important.
I mainly use cut bait, as it is easy for me to catch fish when they are biting and freeze them. I am a firm believer of using fish from the same lake or dam I am fishing. This is because they are the species the fish know and are used to eating. You wouldn’t lure a vegetarian into your house by offering them a steak, so why offer the catfish something it does not know. Especially big fish, small fish will take anything.
I usually take a bass, carp or tilapia and cut them in half. Than hair rig the lips to the hook. I always fish a sliding sinker rig, this way the fish feels little resistance when it takes the bait and I refuse to use anything other than a circle hook. I use the same rig for my live bait. Live bait can be a deadly bait and most of my bigger fish all come out on live bait.
Frogs are another fantastic bait and I often use them when fishing from my boat. These can be rigged live or as a dead bait and are deadly, the cats can’t seem to leave them along for long and feed on them greedily.
One bait that may be unusual is dead day old chickens. These are often very easy to get hold of, not for the weak stomach however. I usually skin them and remove heads wings and feet. The reason these are deadly is down to what a fish looks for in a scent trail: protein protein protein.
One of my favorite things to do is find an overhanging tree with birds nesting in it, when the chicks hatch the catfish wait under the tree for the unlucky birds to fall in the water. If you cast a weightless dead day old under that tree you best hold on as it will be attacked with the utmost power and its game on.
I hope you guys find something interesting in this article and look forward to sharing more of fishing for cats under an African sky.
This article was written by Robert Hellig. Robert lives in South Africa and is an avid cat fisherman. Robert Hellig also works with Catfish Africa, an organization dedicated to promoting the sport of catfish angling in South Africa.
Lake Fork is without a doubt one of the premier destinations for a host of species in the United States. The usual suspects come to mind; Largemouth Bass, Black and White Crappie, Channel and Flathead Catfish, White Bass, and others. What people don’t know is that Lake Fork is also one of the best destinations in the United States for massive Smallmouth Buffalo, Mirror Carp, and Common Carp.
Fork is somewhat unconventional when you compare it to the waters generally thought of as carp waters in Europe and other parts of the world where they are revered as prized specimens. It stretches a massive 27,000 acres across the piney woods of East Texas. Fork is loaded with natural cover, huge expanses of flooded timber and other structure. It’s literally a paradise for fisherman of any kind.
So what makes Fork so special? Lake Fork has huge fish, simple as that. The nutrient rich waters are loaded with food and the large amounts of predator species help keep the numbers of carp and buffalo in check so they have the capacity to grow very large quite easily. Fork regularly produces carp over the 30lb mark and frequently produces buffalo in the 50lb and up range. The largest Buffalo and Common Carp captured are an unbelievable 68lb 7oz and 40lb 4oz respectively.
Lake Fork is also home to the now world famous Texas 44 Lake Fork Carp and Buffalo Challenge, hosted by Wild Carp Companies (www.wildcarpcompanies.com) and CarpPro magazine (www.carppro.net). In the past three years, the competition has brought world fame onto the lake, with anglers coming from all over the US and even as far as Hungary, Romania, Italy, South Africa, Canada, and the United Kingdom to fish in the competition. The Lake Fork Sportsman Association and the tournament is having a huge affect in promoting and introducing carp fishing to the area around Lake Fork.
Lake Fork isn’t easy, however. The water is loaded with snags and the fish are extremely strong. You have to be prepared to put in hundreds of pounds of bait in order to keep the fish in your swim and the trips can be grueling sometimes due to the sheer numbers of fish that can possibly be banked on a session. Fork really is paradise for the big fish angler.
I have been personally fishing Lake Fork for coming up on three years for carp and buffalo. I have put in a huge campaign over the past three years, logging as much time on the bank for Carp and Buffalo as basically anyone.
My massive campaign has paid off for me in the long run, with numerous breaks on my personal bests and, along with my partner Shane Hine, a win of the Big Four Carp division of the Texas 44 in 2013 and third place on big four buffalo in 2014.
My achievements on the lake include a Smallmouth Buffalo of 63lb 3oz, my personal best; the IGFA junior world record Smallmouth Buffalo at 50lb 6oz; and most recently, a Common Carp of 36lb 10oz. I’ve also had some special fish, including a few of the extremely rare and notoriously elusive Israeli strain mirror carp that can be found in certain areas of Lake Fork.
Lake Fork is known as a world-class carp and buffalo fishery, and it is definitely worth the trip down to fish it. If you are interested on information on fishing the lake, I operate the only guide service in Texas specializing in carp and buffalo employing English and European tactics. I offer trips for short day sessions up to twelve hours, and also long weekend sessions lasting forty hours or longer. All gear, bait, food, and drinks are provided.
Making sure your fishing hooks are razor sharp is absolutely essential. By the time you realize that you got a bite the fish the hook point has usually either driven home or been spat out. When fish a feeding cautiously (the way that most trophy fish do) you cannot rely on the fish to hook themselves with vigor. A sharp hook is essential.
Once a fisherman realizes that they absolutely need the sharpest hooks possible they start shelling out $1-$2 per hook on high end hooks. These same fisherman are probably also tying their own rigs. However, if you are spending that much money and time on each rig you are loathed to throw them away when they become dulled. So you either have to perpetually shell out money to replace expensive dull hooks with expensive sharp hooks or you have to learn how to sharpen a hook.
I don’t mean to sound cheeky, but….You only have to sharpen your hooks when they are dull. High quality hooks will stay sharp for a very long time if they never contact something hard. I have high-end carp hooks that have landed dozens of fish and are still razor sharp, the same hooks can hit their points on a rock or dig their tips into the mouth plate of a catfish and they become dulled minutes out of the box.
So the question is not “How often should I sharpen my hooks”, the question is “How can I tell if I need to sharpen my hooks?” through experience you can generally gauge sharpness by pricking the palm of your hand with the point of a hook but I find a jeweler’s eye much more helpful.
You can buy a $10 30x jeweler’s eye offline without much fuss. The are small and fit in your tackle box. With the aid of the jeweler’s eye you can visually inspect the point of small hooks (sizes #10 and smaller). If the point has been bent or dulled you can see it and then you can again inspect it after sharpening to see if you did the job right. Visual inspection is the surest way to inspect a hook’s sharpness.
What Is The Best Hook Sharpener?
The hook sharpeners they sell in tackle shops are generally not fine enough for anyone who is this concerned about hook sharpness. They work ok on very large hooks where a needle point is not as necessary, but are not great for small hooks.
Here are the tools I recommend:
Start by finding out what is wrong with the point and planing what metal to shave away. Typically this involves altering the angle of the hook point and creating a finer point than what was originally provided by the manufacture.
Hold the hook in the needle nose pliers and lay the part of the hook between the point and the bend flat on the wet stone. Grind the hook with small circle motions. Continuously tilt the hook so that you are grind the hook at different angles not just one. Use the jeweler’s eye to gauge your progress.
Once you have shaved off the metal you wanted, polish the altered metal with the sand paper. Start with the 1000 grit using the same circular motions and tilting. Then repeat wit the 2000 grit paper.
Next, pull out the tooling leather or the 3000 grit paper. Instead of using the circular motions repeatedly draw the hook backwards across the paper, bend first. Tilt the hook as you do this. This should be actually focusing mostly on the point.
Check your progress with the jeweler’s eye and touch up and spots you missed with some sand paper while having the hook in the vice. Your good to go.
If you want to do this in the field, the pliers, the jeweler’s eye and the sand paper by themselves can get the job done in a pinch.
Check out our Youtube video demonstrating how to sharpen a fishing hook.
I was too young to remember my first fishing trip. My father, brother and grandfathers all taught me to fish. Fishing is a wonderful sport for bring children and parents closer together. My father passed on a lot of his morals and wisdom as we talked during those fishing trips.Getting kids interested in fishing is great for the sport and is a great parenting tool. So here are a some tips on how to introduce your kids to fishing.
I am a hard-core fisherman. When I go fishing I have one purpose and one purpose only. I want fish! But when I take young kids fishing I have to remind myself that the point is not to put fish on the bank, it is to have fun. If I catch less fish but we have a great time then we have had a successful trip. Kids are much more likely to want to go fishing again if you don’t let catching fish interfere with the kids having fun. If the kids start chasing fireflies and throwing rocks in the water, just be glad they are having fun.
Lure fishing, or even fishing with bobbers can end in frustration if the child is too young to reliably cast or hold a rod still. The best thing you can do is get a rod holders and a bite alarm and take your kid cat fishing or carp fishing. Once you have set up your gear, you put the rods in the rod holder, attach the alarms and then you forget about your rods and pay attention to the kid. Catch frogs or throw a ball around and when the alarm goes off the child can run back to the rods and reel in the fish.
A bite alarm can be as cheap and easy as a fishing bell or you can buy a hi-tech bite alarm with wireless receiver to carry around as you play. As long as you can hear it when a fish bites, that is all that matters.
The main advantage of electronic bite alarms is their volume. Not only does this mean that the kids can hear the alarms from further away, they are also more exciting and they allow you to night fish. My absolute favorite fishing trip involve pitching a tent next to the rods and waking up to the sound of a massive fish setting off the alarms. In the eyes of a child this is the ultimate sleep over and a fabulous way to be introduce kids to fishing.
Constant supervision isn’t enough to keep real young kids out of trouble. Avoid places with swift current, wild animals, sharp rocks, ect. if you are constantly worried it will just make everyone unhappy. Even if the fishing isn’t as good, pick a safer spot where you can relax and the kids can run around without your having to hover and yell constantly.
If a kid fails too much they will get frustrated and hate fishing. A little practice can go a long way to helping a child have a successful fishing trip. Practicing casting and fighting a fish really helps.
To practice casting, my dad would tie a lead sinker on the end of the rod and have me cast at a bucket in the yard.
To practice fighting a fish, have the young angler hold the rod while you hold onto the lead and run back and forth the backyard mimicking a fishing. Use this to teach them to keep the rod tip up, to stop reeling when the fish takes drag and to reel in when the fish starts to tire or go near a snag.
If you don’t mind looking silly running back and forth across a lawn, this can be great fun and an excellent way to teach kids how to fish.
This rule doesn’t apply to ever kid or every boat, but when most kids are in a boat you are constantly having to tell them to sit down, don’t rock the boat, don’t learn over into the water, watch what you are doing with the rod. If you have a bank where the kids can run around, everyone is much more likely to have a good time.
When I take kids fishing and things are a bit slow, its amazing how much fun they can have playing with my other fishing gear. I keep a couple bait sling-shots in my tackle box for chumming and ever kid I know loves slinging bait into the lake. When that doesn’t work, building a fire and roasting marshmallows, catching frogs, throwing rocks, swimming, making a cane pole, or playing a game of catch can turn a slow day into a great one. Always have a “plan B” activity ready in case the fish aren’t biting.
It take a lot of fish to salvage a trip when young kids are cold, wet, tired hungry or sunburned. As an adult I can ice fish without gloves and I do alright, but when I was young I could never stay warm no matter how many layers I had on. Make sure the kids have proper gear, snacks, sunscreen, bug repellent or whatever the need to be comfortable and if the weather turns sour don’t be afraid to call it a day and go out for ice cream or burgers.
If you are going to be fishing for a while, bring a fishing bivy or a large tent to use as a base camp. If you pitch the ten near the bite alarms you can stay our of the sun or rain and stay comfortable and have fun despite less than perfect weather.
Catching fish is key to loving fishing. If I am taking kids fishing to a spot that I go to frequently, I will often arrive a bit early or go the night before and chum the area. Sour wheat and corn are great chums for catfish or carp. Throwing a couple pounds of chum into your fishing hole before hand can really pull in the fish and make for fun and exciting action.
If you have more than one kid coming along or if a kid is hesitant about wanting to reel in a large fish, netting the fish can be loads of fun. I have had more than one kid prefer netting the fish over reeling it in. Having one kid on the net and one kid on the rod gets more kids involved when the alarms go off.
Small kids can have a lot of trouble reeling in a 10-20 lb carp or catfish. When the butt of the rod is half their size, this can make things hard. If you have a very enthusiastic young fisherman, I like to use my 12′ rods because the long rod makes the fight harder which they love. If I have a young fisherman who is unsure or less enthusiastic I bring my 6′-7′ rods so that it is less intimidating.
If I am catching decent sized carp or cats, and a kid is overwhelmed or shys away from wanting to reel in the fish then a cheap saltwater fighting belt can really help making fighting the fish more enjoyable. A lot of small kids lose interest in reeling in the fish because having the butt of the rod dig into their crotch or hip hurts. Sometimes we adults forget how small they are. To a 60 lb kid a 20 lb carp feels like a 80lber would to me. A simple fighting belt can take the discomfort away and makes the kid feel like he is wrestling Moby Dick to shore.
My dad had a hard time teaching me catch-and-release. As a young boy I would cry or throw a fit when he would put my fish back. Young kids want to show off their catch. A keep net or carp sack can be a good way to humanely keep the fish alive while you take pictures or get mom to come over and take a look. And it is a lot of fun to turn all the fish loose at the end of the day.
Some of us just love gear, and your kids can be the same. Having your own rod or tackle box can be a really big deal for a kid. Being able to take my tackle box fishing and catch my own fish with my own gear was a big deal when I was little. Just hold off on getting them any hooks until they are old enough to not leave them lying in the carpet.
Fishing for carp in the winter time can be a tricky matter. When the weather gets cold the fish often change locations and school up. One of the big changes is that carps’ metabolisms slow down and their ability to digest food also is reduced.
This means that when winter fishing, you need to chum a whole lot less and you need to use baits that are very easy for carp to digest.
So, when it gets cold, my go-to bait is a classic winter stick mix containing bread crumb and sweet corn. I use sweet corn in the winter because it is easier to digest than deer corn and because there is less problem with nuisance fish stealing the bait.
Bread crumb in another easily digested simple carbohydrate. The carp love bread, its easy to digest and it doesn’t fill them up too easily.
Because the carp eat less in winter, we use much less chum in the winter. This means that you have to be much more precise with your chumming. A stick mix is a perfect way to chum exactly on top of your hook at extreme distances.
Take whole wheat sandwich bread and put it in a blender/liquidizer. Blend it until it creates a light fluffy pile of super fine bread crumb.
Next get a can of whole sweet corn kernels. Drain off the water and dump the kernels into a paper towel. Squeeze the kernels in the paper towel and squeeze out as much water as you can without crushing the kernels.
Spread out the kernels and pat them down with a dry paper towel and try to get off as much water as possible.
Next, put the kernels into a ziplock bag and add your favorite PVA friendly flavor. I like Nash’s Sweet Corn Syrup or Korda Goo Corn Twist. Sunflower oil can also be a good additive. Add just enough flavoring to coat the kernels without any liquid pooling in the bottom of the bag.
Too create the ultimate winter stick mix, the next thing you need to do is mix the flavored corn with the bread crumb and mix thoroughly.
Then take a modest handful of bread crumb and corn and put it into a PVA funnel web system. Pack it tight with the plunger but do not crush the kernels. The water inside the kernels will melt the PVA so don’t crush the kernels.
If done properly, the PVA stick will not dissolve for several hours, but eventually the water from the corn will seep out and destroy the PVA.
I like to use an inline lead with my stick mix. Simply thread on the inline lead of your choice, then the protective sleeve, and then a swivel with a quick clip. Tie a hair rig with few kernels of corn using the hook of your choice (I like Korda widegap #6).
Leave about 8-10″ of leader coming off of your hook and either tie on a micro swivel or just a loop to the end of the leader.
Next, take your PVA stick with the bait inside and push a baiting needle through the middle long-ways. Attach the leaders micro-swivel or loop to the baiting needle and pull it through the PVA stick. Pull the hook into the PVA stick until the point enters the PVA mesh. Make sure the hook point is not embedded in a corn kernel.
Once the PVA stick mix is threaded on the leader, attach the leader to the mainline with the quick clip and cast. I like to keep a few PVA stick mixes already threaded on a leader waiting and ready while I fish. That way I can just unclip the bait-less leader and attach a rig that is ready to cast so I maximize fishing time.