Work multiple spots for Red River channel cats

Water Body

The Red River of the North – this one has been on my bucket list for awhile.

With a little bit of planning – Alex (Somnio) and Dan (TcCat) were able to join me on a 5 1/2-hour drive to the Red. We left Friday morning at around 6 a.m. and arrived in Drayton, ND, around noon. We unpacked the boat and headed for the water, launching at about 1:30 pm.

Reports at the launch did not brighten our spirits, as most people relayed that the bite is not the best they have seen. When we got there, a couple people shore fishing were packing up their stuff and leaving early, saying this is the worst they have seen it in years. Determined, we threw together a game plan and set out on our journey.

Our goal on Day 1 was to work as far as our boat gas would allow and mark structure, deep holes and other fishable areas for days 2 and 3. I believe this was the ticket for us.

Day 1 yielded a ton of boat travel and about 15 marked spots to come back to on days 2 and 3. We picked up 15 or so channels during the day, the biggest about 29 inches. The best bait this day was cut creek chub and two frogs on a hook.

Dan caught the first big fish at about midnight of the first day. Hitting the tape at 34 x 17, it weighed 14 pounds. Thirty minutes later, Dan picked up another respectable channel that measured very similar to the last – 32 x 17 and 12 1/2 lbs. We fished another three hours or so, picking up another few fish in the smaller range before calling it a night.

Day 2 started a little slowly. Because we were all a little sore from our 13 hours in the boat the previous day, we didn’t get on the water until about noon. Our tactic was to hit half the spots we marked and post up in our big-fish spot at about 6 p.m.

I was able to pick up a quick 32 x 17 at our third or fourth spot at around 4:30 p.m. Realizing we were losing daylight, we headed back to our spot from the previous night and set up camp.

In hindsight, this might have not been the best move. Sitting from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. on our big-fish spot, we caught everything but big fish – sheephead, gold eye (great for bait), suckers, and even a walleye made an appearance (ick). We packed it up around 3 a.m., freezing our butts off and debating tactics for the last day.

Our Day 3 tactic was completely different from all the rest – Run and Gun. We hit the water prepared to hit every spot we marked and add in a few more, spending no more than 20 minutes on a spot – catch a fish, move, miss a fish, move.

This was the tactic we’ been missing the day before. On the first spot, Dan roped in a 37 x 21 monster on cut gold eye, a personal best. The entire struggle was caught on video, and man was it a fight! I believe the video is over 15 minutes long! The fish hit the scale at 20 pounds even.

On our second Day 3 spot, I managed a very similar fish, a 37 x20.5. It was personal best, but I’m pretty sure when Dan measured it, he docked me a half pound to win Big Fish honors for the weekend!

Those two fish made our weekend, so the rest was just a bonus. We fished until about 8 p.m. Sunday, pulling in few smaller fish.

Thanks again to Dan and Alex for helping me cross of an item on bucket list. This trip was definitely one for the books!

Gear Used:

1-3 oz. bank weights

65-80 lb. Power Pro line

Gamakatsu and Team Catfish 6/0 Circle Hooks

Bait Used:

Cut Gold eye

Cut Chub

Cut Sucker



  1. Nice report. That’s quite the resource up there. Those Red River channels sure are another beast entirely!

  2. Best report I’ve seen in a long while. Very, very cool….those fish are bruisers. Whether you fish cats or not, you have to respect a river that puts out fish in that category.

    Congrats on the great fishing, thanks especially for sharing strategies and tactics going into the bite!


  3. Good report guys. When you get tired of shakers you should come south . I’m impressed with your game planning. The Red is on my bucket list but do you leave Mendota to travel 10 hours? I haven’t seen a fish of 37 inches here in some time but I have seen a few. I am glad you got weights on those fish. Fish of the same measurements here are about 5lbs heavier than the river fish. A very good trip.

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