On the Water by 5:00 am

I should do this more often.  Catfish are known to be active in the hours before and after sun up and sun down.  I took advantage of an opportunity to hit the water early.  If only every day started like this!


I’m on my way too the mulberry trees by 5 am.

early morning shot of me headed out in my kayak to fly fishing to catfish and carp

I arrive at the first tree and land a nice Channel Cat just as the sun is coming up.  A small black fly did the trick.  I usually start the strip almost as soon as the fly hits the water and mix things up a bit doing a tap tap tap strip wait tap tap wait strip tap tap.  And go slower and deeper as time goes on.  sometimes waiting for depth and then stripping fast…just mixing it up.  Usually im a tap tap tap, wait. tap tap tap, slow strip, kinda guy.  I incorporate multiple jerks in one strip to make it tap tap tap, like a crayfish would swim .  just play around with it.   If there are fish present they should bite.

The key to fishing muddy water for ambush predators is finding stucture that holds fish,  and conditions that fish like to feed in.  It seems to be almost common knowledge that the bite gets good on falling water.  Falling water means a few things to me.  It means the water is getting clearer and it means that everything is being concentrated, and it means current.  In a large creek you need a steep rate of decline in river level to give much current but when you have an oxbow with a narrow inlet/outlet channel current from the draining oxbow can be substantial.  Consider all the minnows and other food that’s being swept out into the main creek channel.  Find an oxbow inlet/outlet channel on falling water and you might have a real hot spot.  Be ready for everything from catfish to hybrid bass to carp and good knows what else ready to pounce.   Other things to look for are under levee vents that allow water into adjacent farmland.  On a river decline these will boil back into the creek.  Baitfish and warm nutrient rich water concentrate here and so do predators.   Also look for any sort of current anomalies like a smaller creek or man made water flow flowing into slower water.  Look for trees with branches in the water, these attract bait fish.  Cast to the base of the tree if you can and as close to the branches as possible.  Look for mulberry trees, or trees dropping fruit and berries.  If a tree is dropping there are sure to be big fish under it.  Also look for downed timber, cut banks, and rip rap.  All of these may hold fish.   Also look for trees right on the edge of a cut bank that have roots exposed to the water, fish like the base of these trees.  I recommend a black fly in muddy waters to aid in visibility but Im not sure the fish really need to see anything to find your fly.  I once landed a 34-36 inch blue cat while fishing a bead head caddis on an indicator in muddy water down 8-9ft with no current.  Thats right, I was bobber fishing a bead head caddis looking around at other things when i notice my float was just under the surface.  I really really should try this method more often, i just cant stand to sit and watch my float. I need to be stripping a fly.  Its always good to try new things, if only I had multiple lifetimes to fish every possible method to its inevitable end I probably would!

Here’s a nice Channel cat I caught at the base of a tree right on the edge of a cut bank.  To make things even better there’s a mulberry tree with an overhanging branch very very close by.  Most fish you see from 2011 are caugh on a small black or brown size 8 fly like this.  a great fly i use for catfish and carp

a small brown fly i use for catfish and carp fly fishingI believe the bead chain eye gets the fly noticed when it hits the water and when its stripped.  When its cast you can hear it whistle, I’m pretty sure it “whistles” when you strip it as well.  All in all its a killer fly.  You can take this fly and catch catfish and 30lb grass carp and the next day catch bluegill at the pond… its the same for trout.


a fly caught catfish fighting me

a catfish i caught while fly fishing

Channel catfish caught fly fishing under a mulberry tree


A little while later #2

fly rod catfish

catfish with a fly in his mouth

I pause for some photos before moving on to the next tree

Missouri river feeder creek St. Louis

fly fishing missouriGot some grass carp under Tree #2 but no catfish so i move on too tree # 3, I didn’t come for the carp today.


#3 has a bunch of grass carp under it and some catfish.  This one had a crazy left eye.

catfish with crazy eye i caught on a fly

No problem with the right eye…I bet that’s why the fly is on that side.

Catfish with a missouriflies fly in its mouth


Cat #4…little guy

small channel catfish caught on a fly rod


I tied on a white size 4 to see what that would do…grass carp on!  They can be aggressive when they’re up under these mulberry trees.

a white fly for fly fishing in missouri



fly rod caught grass carp


Back to the black fly and Cat # 5…got some nice photos of this one

little channel cat with a fly in its mouth

catfish with fly in its mouth

catfish fly


Cat # 6…pretty nice

Nice Catfish caught on a fly rod with a black fly

This catfish was about 20 or more inches.  I think its a Channel Catfish but I’m not 100% on that.

Catfish fly fishing

Cat # 7 a Blue catfish!  Me likey

fly fishing for catfish

Catfish face after catching on a flyalmost had to give him a kiss before i let him go he’s so cute!

It was afternoon and I wanted to stay but I couldn’t justify fishing any longer.  I powered up the creek the mile or so and beached at my takeout point.  This Black Rat snake wanted to hide under my kayak, I took some photos of him and then i noticed these dragon flies and all sorts of other creatures in the water that i couldn’t focus on…next time maybe i will shoot some underwater shots.



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