By Brandon Butler
Camping, cookouts, and catfish are three pleasures of summer I look forward to all year long.
With bass and crappies hiding in deep water, big bluegills relaxing after a long spawn and walleyes fighting lockjaw, catfish are at the forefront of summer fishing.
From small farm ponds to the mighty Wabash and Ohio rivers, catfish can be found and caught throughout Indiana all summer long.
Catching whisker-lipped bruisers can be as simple as pitching a bobber and nightcrawlers, but there are some fishermen among us who take catfishing quite a bit more seriously than that. And when these diehard local catfish hunters are looking to tangle with cats that could swallow the average farm pond channel whole, many of them head for the East Fork of the White River.
Beginning at the confluence of the Driftwood and the Flat Rock Rivers in Columbus, the East Fork travels 239 miles before joining up with the West Fork just east of Petersburg.
The East Fork is a large river and can be tough to learn how to fish, but there are a few local hotspots that continue to produce year after year.
Williams Dam, located in the small town of Williams just southwest of Bedford, is a favorite catfish spot for many local anglers. With a campground located on site, the Williams Dam Fishing Area provides overnight catfishermen the opportunity to camp and fish in the same location.
According to Bob at Bob’s Bait and Tackle in Loogootee, “Blues, flatheads and channels can all be caught below the dam, and some mighty big ones, too.”
Bob recommends using nightcrawlers, livers or live bait. He also said that Sonny’s catfish bait is some of the best stuff he’s ever used.
“My secret formula is to mix the original scent with the blood scent,” he said. “One summer I won seven out of 11 tournaments on the river with that mix.”
Hindostan Falls, located in Martin County, is the other hotspot Bob points to when considering locations for catfishing the East Fork of the White River. Stripers also can be picked up at both of these spots.
“People usually fish for them stripers with 2- or 3-inch white plastic grubs,” Bob said.
Daytime during the summer is often too hot for enjoyable fishing.
Not to mention, fish often are reluctant to bite during the warmest part of the day.
Catfish cooperate, though, because when the sun goes down and temperatures cool, catfishing heats up. If you’ve never sat by a riverside campfire waiting for a catfish to bite, then you’re yet to experience what I believe to be one of summertime’s best fishing opportunities.
Relaxing by the river is great, but so is running around in a boat checking sets. This can be done on both rivers and reservoirs. Trotlines and traditional limb lines are probably the most popular catfishing tactics other than rod and reel, but I really enjoy jugging and yo-yoing.
With the summer heat slowing down many of the area’s more popular sport fish, perhaps it’s time to pack a tent and cooler, head down to Williams, and try your luck at landing a mess of cool summer night catfish.
By law, you must label your jugs and yo-yos, as well as any other trotlines, throwlines, limb lines and bank lines with the full name and address of the person using the equipment. You must check your yo-yos, or any other lines at least once every 24 hours.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.