View Full Version : Unhooking Catfish...

07-14-2008, 04:34 PM
I was just wondering but, how would you unhook a little catfish that ate the entire bait? I'm terrified of unhooking cats, big or little, because of a bad experience, but I'm probably gonna give cat fishing another chance because my brothers says it's a lot of fun. How would you best avoid hooking a little one? Is it hook size, setting time, bait, what's the best solution? I want to avoid the least handling as possible on the catfish. :-?

07-14-2008, 06:31 PM
Well theres probably no way of totally avoiding little cats but there is one way to unhook a cat that swallowed the bait. First cut a willow switch. When a cat swallows your bait stick the willow switch down to where the hook is and get the hook to stick into it the hook should then come out easily and the catfish can then be released unharmed

07-14-2008, 06:46 PM
well, I don't know how others avoid harming a fish that has swallowed a hook, but I would just cut the line to be on the safe side. I do that for all fish that have swallowed the hook and i don't want to keep it. Its a sure way of keeping the fish alive and unharmed.

Hooked Up
07-14-2008, 08:38 PM
Not a catfish, but just the other day a fish was caught with a previously cut hook still in his mouth. It was a least a 4/0 or 5/0 hook. It was rusted a bit, so it must have been there awhile AND it didn't seem to kill his appetite. He was still trying to eat. ;D

07-14-2008, 08:59 PM
Haha. That reminds me of a story I have. I caught a trout and right when I brought it in, I saw that there was something on the side of it's lip. it turned out to be a countdown rapala! Man, what a treat, a big fish and a lure to go along with it.

07-15-2008, 07:14 AM
Some people swear by circle hooks, they are supposed to help on gut hooks. I always just use a bigger hook with some bigger bait. I fish for the sport and practice catch and release for the most part. If I am trying to catch any fish like with my son, I cut the barb off to ensure that the hook will come out better. If I happen to gut hook a fish I cut the line, I have caught tons of fish with hooks still in their gut or belly. My buddy landed a salmon last year that had a crank bait in its gut.

07-15-2008, 07:59 AM
How would you best avoid hooking a little one?Use BIGGER bait.

As mentioned earlier, to make release easier, pinch down the barbs on your hooks. *Makes sliding them back out much quicker and easier. *

I've been using circle hooks a lot more in the last year. *While you will gut hook some fish, 90% are hooked in the corner of the mouth. *I pinch down the barbs on my circle hooks as well to make releasing fish relatively easy.

Barbs are overrated in my opinion. *Keep good pressure on a hooked fish and a barbless hook will not slide out during the fight.

Learning how to hold a cat also helps with the release process. *It's no fun getting spined. *TIP: *If you get spined, rub the affected area on the belly of the fish that spined you. *It will help the pain. *And oh yeah, the big ones chomp down pretty hard if you put your hand in their mouth. *That seems to be my most common catfish injury. *I guess that's a good problem to have :)

07-15-2008, 12:29 PM
i don't know about avoiding little catfish with bigger baits, maybe so if its bigger "live" baits, but if just baits, i don't know, i caught a 5" cat on an entire fillet of a sardine, what a suprise, it was bigger then the cat, it literally took th whole thing inside its mouth :o ;D

07-15-2008, 12:57 PM
Bigger baits typically require bigger hooks. *It's harder for a small fish to get impaled on a bigger hook. *Simple physics apply. *Sure, some small fish will still get hooked, but not as many.

The same concept can be applied in reverse. If you want to catch fewer big fish, use smaller baits. Small baits for quantity, big baits for quality. *Just my opinion.

Avoid stink baits such as the stuff that comes in tubs and smells like an outhouse. *That stuff will attract smallish cats all day long. *If you want numbers, cool. *But if you want bigger fish, avoid that stinky stuff.

Probably the best piece of advice is to just get comfortable handling cats. *There are several smart ways to hold a catfish. *Also, get a good pair of long nosed pliers. *

Best of luck. . . * *

07-15-2008, 07:25 PM
Probably the best piece of advice is to just get comfortable handling cats. *There are several smart ways to hold a catfish. *Also, get a good pair of long nosed pliers. *
That is the best advice I have heard ;) *I've never had a problem with them so if you are careful you should be fine.

*Reminds me of my fear of spiders! *Then one day I ended up becoming a Pest Control guy. *After about 10 years of crawling under houses Im pretty much over it *:( ;D

07-16-2008, 07:07 AM
It was a couple years ago when I last went catfishing with my buddies at Folsom Lake. We caught a nice 4 pounder(it was also my first catfish...) and I had to unhook it cuz it was my pole. I didn't know that channels can deliver a crushing bite to fingers :'( and I got stung by the barbs and didn't even know it. Well, afterward the stinging kicked in and I was in pain for quite a while... Never went catfishing after that but willing to give it another try this week...

07-16-2008, 07:54 AM
Hey A2D, when you get a cat on shore, hold the cat from the under side (belly side). *Extend the pectoral fins and with your right hand, put your thumb under the left side pectoral, your index finger above the right pectoral, and the rest of your fingers under the right pectoral. *With your fingers in place, put your palm against the underside of the fish. *You now have a firm grip on the fish and should be able to lift it up and control the fish. *Hope this makes sense.

When I say to 'extend the pectoral fins' above, I simply mean that if the catfish has it's pectoral fins tucked against it's body, take your fingers and move them so that they point straight out. The pectoral fin on a catfish swivels 90 degrees.*

This link will show you where pectoral fins are: *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_anatomy

Once you extend the pectoral fins on a cat you can use them for leverage when holding the fish. *Once you have a firm grip on the cat, use pliers to get the hook out. *

The tips of the pectoral fins are where you can get stung as they are very sharp on smaller cats, duller on larger cats. *Holding your hand along the length of the pectoral fins is fine, just don't get poked on the tips of the fin. *It's the very end/point that is sharp and can cause pain. *The dorsal fin can poke you too, but it's usually the pectoral fins that nab anglers. *

Good luck. . .

07-16-2008, 05:32 PM
Thanks! Tommorrow evening I'm gonna head up to Folsom and give these cats another try! It's been a while since I could last sit and just watch the fish work themselves. :D