Rigging your Rod
Most fishermen that fish in the area where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers meet use a double hook rig. With a 5 to 10 ounce weight tied to the end of the line and the first hook tied on 12″ above the weight with a 12″ leader. The second hook is usually 12″ to 18″ above the first hook with a 10″ to 12″ leader. Use the lighter weights in slow current and the heavier weights when fishing faster waters, use enough weight to allow you to fish an area thoroughly without the current carrying your baits down stream.
Skip Jack and shad are the preferred bait for monster cat fish in the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. To bait with a shad make a cut down its back and through the ribs being careful not to cut through the belly meat or skin. After the cut is made pull the cut open and fold the halves back toward each other ending up with the skin sides touching and the inside of the shad and guts exposed. Impale the bait on the hook by hooking through the area where the two halves of the back come together. When using skip jack, fillet the sides off for cut bait and also use the head with the guts attached as bait. Many monster cat fish have been caught on a skip jack head/gut combo. Tip: shad baits must be changed more often than skip jack, they loose color, flavor and odor faster.
Where to Fish
The Mississippi and Ohio rivers are very large and it can be hard to figure out where to fish. You need to use your depth finder to find deep holes and the drop offs into the channel.
How to fish a Deep Hole
Starting upstream of the deep hole run your trolling motor to slow your boat down and bounce the bottom with your weight as you drift into the deeper water. Do not drag your weight along the bottom as dragging increases the chances of getting hung. Lift the weight off bottom and set it back down as your boat drifts. When you feel under water structures bumping your line use your trolling motor to hold your boat in place while you fish these structures thoroughly. Cat fish can be caught away from structures but these structures are a hot spot. If no fish are caught on the first pass move in or out a little and make another pass from the shallow water to the deep while bouncing your weight to keep contact with the bottom.
Fishing the Channel
When fishing the channel it is best to fish along the drop off at the edge of the channel. Use your trolling motor to slow your boat so you can fish a little slower than the current is running. Fish all structures that you encounter thoroughly, if no cat fish are caught on the first pass make your next pass a little further up on the drop off. The cat fish may be holding at a particular depth and you will need to find the depth that they prefer.
When using your trolling motor to slow your drift speed keep your boat moving down stream so the bait will have a natural drift even if a little slower than the current. The exception to this rule is when fishing structure, there will always be a calm spot behind structure that cat fish rest in and it will be natural for your bait to settle in this area. Fish these areas thoroughly using your trolling motor to stop the boat and hold it over the structure. Change bait often. If your bait starts looking washed out and pale change it immediately, no matter what you have heard or read cat fish like a fresh bait better than old, stale or rotten baits.
By using the bottom bouncing method of fishing for cat fish you will fill your freezer and win those cat fish tournaments. More fish can be harvested by floating with the current and covering more territory than by anchoring in one spot.