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Local

Perfect time for channel cats

See that smile on that young man? See the trees budding in the background, and the river whippin' by?

Heck, there's even a little sun shining down, too.

Well if you're inside playing with your computer, you're missing out on all of that ... and a lot more.

This channel cat, well she's still swimming the waters of the Rock River somewhere around Hillsdale, Illinois. It's a safe bet to say that she is feeding hard getting ready to go through the rigors of the spawn.

Right now with water temperatures on the Rock in the 50-degree range, channel cats like her are mostly out of their deep-water winter haunts and up cruising shallow waters in search of easy meals.

Cheese baits, shrimp, shad and shad guts have all been working already this spring. Soon, big channels will be slammin' rods with wild abandon, and this pre-spawn bite is an absolute blast to be part of.

Big male channel cats will begin to swell up and turn blue in the face and lips. This is what some will mistake as a blue cat.

They will beat each other up to the point where they become just flat ugly to look at. It's not uncommon to see big males bleeding from the head, tail and fins. Big scratches and gouges up and down their bodies. These fish really go to war when love is involved.

Not unlike young men fighting over the prom queen.

The next 4 to 6 weeks will be amazing days to spend on the river. Even inexperienced fisherman can really cash in on some great times and great catches.

The strike zone of these fish really expand as they load up with food for the spawn. I mentioned a few before, but throw in grasshoppers, crickets, chicken livers, nightcrawlers and creek chubs, and there's more, many, many more.

If you are one that has always wanted to get involved in some more activities, this is one you can't miss. No fancy equipment needed. Bait can be free with a little rummaging around the yard, and even if you don't have a boat, there's plenty of bank available. That leaves you almost no excuse to not get up and get on this.

So, maybe I have convinced one or two of you to try something different? If I have, then I have succeeded. But not to get lost in all the channel cat talk, let's not forget it's mushroom time and turkey time.

Turkey season has been one of the best I can remember, with a ton of big birds taken, and though no mushrooms have been found, they will be very shortly. So, have a great week. Go Catfish!

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