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10.10.12


Dave Mull

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Fall Catfishing for the Big Boy Flatheads

One of the things on my bucket list is to catch a big flathead catfish and I had that chance the last week of September, fishing the Kalamazoo River at Saugatuck with Capt. Tony Wolte of Frostbite Charters. Also along was Bob Gwizdz, one of the most widely read outdoor columnists in the state, who also works in communications for the Michigan DNR.

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CAPT. TONY WOLTE SETS UP HIS ARRAY OF CATFISH RODS

Tony, who I first fished with 10 years ago, is an experienced river rat, living on the banks of the K'zoo up at Richmond. He guides clients on the big lake during the summer, and on the river, mostly after steelhead , but in the last five years or so, he has been diligently figuring out how to catch big flatheads. A week or so earlier, he'd actually trolled up three of them--one a monster 38-pounder--while probing the lower river for salmon. Although most of his catfish trips are a way up river in holes he has discovered, this night would be an experimental trip to see if he could catch lower river flatheads.

We took off just as the sun was setting in his big flat-bottom Tracy Craft boat, a custom jobn that's as a nice of a river fishing boat as I've ever been on. It's great for steelhead fishing; just as good for anchoring and setting up for catfish.

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A GREAT BAIT FOR BIG FLATHEADS IS A LIVE BLUEGILL ON A 3/0 CRICLE HOOK

He runs six rods for cats, all spooled with heavy, 50- to 65-pound braided line, set up to run three-way sinker rigs, with pyramid sinkers holding the bait in place on the bottom. Two rods are spinning rods, the other four are casting rods. No real special tackle--the baitcasters included a Daiwa linecounter or two, and the rods were all formerly used for downriggers.

Four rods got live bluegills and two got chunks of salmon bellies.

Tony said most times the big flatheads prefer live bait, though some nights the cut bait reigns.

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WOLTE POSES WITH AN 8-POUND CHANNEL CAT

We set up a couple of places without a good bite--Wolte noted small channel cats pecking at the salmon belly rods, finally anchoring in front of two barges down towards the pier heads. Within five minutes a spinning rod's tip shot down towards the water's surface and Tony handed it to Bob, who soon had a nice channel cat at boat side.

That ended up being the only fish of the night as we quit around 10. Gotta tell you, I can't wait to get back out there and try again.

For charters, Tony Wolte can be contacted at 616-836-8452.

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I do quite a bit of cat fishing in the summer months bobber fishin' in the river.

I never really fish them much until I put together a program. It's enjoyable for my son and I to land 30 cats a half day of fishing.

It definitely helps keep the attention of a young one.

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What rivers you fishing for them?

I do quite a bit of cat fishing in the summer months bobber fishin' in the river.

I never really fish them much until I put together a program. It's enjoyable for my son and I to land 30 cats a half day of fishing.

It definitely helps keep the attention of a young one.

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