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Midwest Hotspots for Channel Catfish

When the weather turns sultry, these Midwest locales offer prime action for channel catfish.

Midwest Hotspots for Channel Catfish

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Red River

North Dakota & Minnesota

Fish Here: You can nab big channel cats anywhere on the river, but fish get consistently larger as you follow the north-flowing river downstream. Eight- to 12-pounders are often caught in the stretch near Breckenridge, Minnesota. The Fargo-Moorhead area a little farther north is home to plentiful 15-pounders. Continuing downstream to the Canadian border, you’ll start catching numbers of channel cats weighing 20 pounds or more.

Use This: Whole dead baitfish and cut bait (goldeyes and suckers) are tops for trophy channel cats. Pieces about the size of pickled herring work well, maybe a little larger for heavier cats. Fillet strips 4 or 5 inches long also work great. Re-bait every 20 to 30 minutes, as the river’s current washes out the scent. Riprap along shore and near dams and bridges is worth targeting wherever you find it.

Sherman Reservoir


Fish Here: Although catfish lurk around structure and cover throughout this roughly 2,800-acre lake situated in the south-central part of the state, Fisherman’s Bridge is the reservoir’s most popular catfishing spot. This area, which has lots of riprap nearby, provides bank fishing access to the canal below the lake’s inlet structure.

Use This: Bait up with minnows, bluegills, shrimp, frogs, chicken liver or shad. Top months for trophy-class fish are July and August, followed by April, May and September. Anglers often register Sherman channel cats weighing 12 to 21 pounds in the state’s Master Angler Program.

Grand River

Iowa & Missouri

Fish Here: The best catfishing is in the lower reaches of the Grand, just above its confluence with the Missouri River. Waters in the vicinity of the Bosworth and Brunswick accesses (both in Missouri) are considered the best trophy cat waters. Bosworth Access is 22.4 miles above the Grand’s mouth, near the town of Bosworth on Highway M in Carroll County. Plenty of cats are caught along the bank here near riprap, logs and other cover. The Brunswick Access, at the intersection of Highway 24 and Polk Street in Brunswick, is three miles from the juncture of the Grand and the Missouri. Anglers float-fishing from there to the river’s mouth catch lots of monster cats.

Use This: Many Grand River anglers fish from shore, drifting cut bait, nightcrawlers or hot dogs beneath a float. This allows the bait to move naturally downstream, responding to the current. Use a slip-bobber on the line above your baited hook, and, as the rig drifts, guide it alongside catfish-holding structure and cover like riprap.

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