"Gear Considerations for Cats"
by Daniel Kiazyk
Updated Catfish Gear Considerations for your boat
I guess a bit of water has gone over the Dam at St. Andrews since I last wrote about considerations of gear for catfishing on the Red River. The considerations I'll make here are not so much upon the terminal gear that you'll use but upon some other ancillary considerations that'll make your catfishing day on your boat that much more enjoyable and practicable.
A primary consideration to make before getting out on the water on what can be some of the warmest days of the summer is how you'll keep stuff that needs to be cool, cool. A variety of coolers now are a part of my consideration on what I need to have available for a catfishing trip. A larger cooler is required for keeping water and other such necessities cool. Not having enough hydration can result in some wicked headaches the following day and not enough grub usually results in a grumpy gang. Of course other coolers might be required to keep your bait fresh. It's probably not a good idea to keep the human food/water with the bait…. My wife becomes especially squeamish at just the thought of the two being together. Ultimately your personal well being should come first to make the day out on the water as enjoyable as it can be.
A point was made saying that your personal well-being is something we all need to pay closer attention to when going out on the water. On that point there's an item that has not lost its importance but has re-emerged in a new form over the past few years. A comfortable life jacket will save your life if you're ever put in situation where you may find yourself in the water. With all of the gear we wear at different times of the year even the best swimmer may not be able to swim or manoeuver in the water for as long as may be necessary. Get a good comfortable jacket and wear it! We really don't have an excuse anymore especially with the variety that's out there. As for your head and eyes a good hat and polarized glasses can be essential for your well-being when out in the hot summer sun. Bug spray and sun block can also provide you with protection from critters and the sun's rays both which can have a severe impact upon your health. Lastly, appropriate clothing choices needs to be a carefully made consideration. It goes without saying that weather can be all over the map on the Red, even in the summer. Being, warm, dry, cool will make any day out on the water that much more enjoyable.
Tools can also be an important consideration for creating conditions of possibility for success while catfish angling. Those tools may also provide suitable conditions for protecting the fish you'll be angling. A good pair of pliers with a long handle will assist you in removing the barbs from hooks as well as assisting you in removing hooks from those fish that are caught. A device that will help you hold onto the catfish caught will also be of some use for those who may not be comfortable holding these fish for photos. A boga grip, although expensive, is an excellent tool for safely holding onto these powerful creatures. Finally a tool worthy of consideration will be a flexible water resistant measuring device. I am particular to a seamstress' tape which is very flexible and is plastic coated.
One particular angling device that it goes without saying is an essential tool is your net. Not just any net will do for me anymore. I've had a variety of nets over the years and I've now arrived at an idea of what might be considered to be elements for a catfishing worthy netting device. First the handle needs to be long enough. I would settle for no less than four feet with 6-8 feet being optimal. It is important that the net float. In the case of the longer handle it is quite easy to fill the handle with expandable foam, making the net that much more buoyant. A final set of considerations for a good useable net has a lot to do about the business end of the net: the hoop. The hoop should be of at least 30" in diameter with 32" being a common large sized hoop that is more than adequate. As for the mesh and size of bag stretched around that hoop some considerations to keep in mind are; A) a deep bag B) with finer mesh. These two aspects of a net's bag make working with giant cats that much easier and safer.
Another important consideration worth keeping in mind for a day out on catfish waters would be a camera capable of undergoing the rigours of a catfish trip. Having a camera that can be dropped and exposed to water and not break down can be an advantage. The capacity to be exposed to water can be considered in a twofold manner. Being able to withstand rain is important but what about those slimy hands that more often than not will touch the camera. Catfish slime may need to be washed off a camera every once in a while and having a camera capable of being washed off even with a damp cloth will only be to your advantage
Over the past two years a device that has made developing a pattern while fishing for catfish that much easier has been the addition of an electric windlass to our boats. An electric windlass allows for the pulling of anchor when it's obvious that catfish aren't in an area. It used to be that pulling an anchor all day could make moving a bit of a chore. Now making moves until we find some active biters is very much a key to being successful on any given day. An important consideration for those who operate such a device is that there should be a provision to secure the anchor manually in addition to the break that is built into the device when traveling.
Finally the rod holder is an item that really can make a difference for your day out on the water. Traveling with rods loaded with terminal tackle affixed can be made that much easier with rod holders that keep these rods easily accessible but far from being in harm's way in quarters as limited as that you'll find in any boat. Rod holders also need to be quite portable and moveable. Being able to put them up and take them down depending on an angler's want/need to have one is a key consideration. Strength and a capacity to get at the rod under strain is a final consideration for a workable rod holder.
OK, there are a lot of other considerations to make when outfitting a boat for catfishing. The ones made in this article are just a few suggestions to making your catfishing day that much more enjoyable.