The Dog-Fish Days of Summer, 9-05-09

Water Body

After this steady warm weather and no rain, there is no denying that we have officially entered into the ‘Dog’ days of summer. This being said, Kevin and I decided to mix it up a bit and target a species that most anglers attempt to avoid; Dogfish!

Bowfin, Grindle, Swamp-Muskie, call em’ what you’d like, all I know is that if you’re looking for a change in pace, these guys are more than willing to attack a variety of baits and keep your drag squealing!

Locating Dogfish this time of year is relatively simple, focus on backwater areas off the main river channel, for us, the Vermillion River. Look for low to no flow areas and focus special attention on shallow shoreline banks (1-3ft) that drop off into slightly deeper water (5-6ft). While scouting, keeping your eyes peeled for jumping minnows and swirls/breaks on the surface. This can be very helpful in locating an active group of feeding Dog’s. Don’t be surprised if you catch a few northern, gar, and bass as well.

Our gear was kept simple; consisting of Med-Lite St Croix spinning rods spooled up with 8lb power-pro. This setup made it easy to throw small crankbaits long distances, and really made fighting these fish an absolute blast!

For tackle we mainly used shallow running crankbaits, but I’m more than confident that they would hit about anything. For us the RapaIa SR5’s and Bomber 4A’s seemed fit the bill and worked just fine. When using the SR5’s, I preferred to remove the stock hooks and replace them with a slightly larger size helping increase my hook-up ratio. Casting the baits tight to shore was crucial as many of the fish bit in 2FOW or less. Also creating as much racket as possible, literally dredging a channel to the boat with your bait, helped triggered these dogfish into attack mode.

One word of caution that should be noted when entering and maneuvering around the small river’s and backwaters of the Mississippi, Please Go Slow. Well… This is unless you enjoy a visit to the prop-shop

Log’s and submerged timber seem to always be moving around, much of which happens just under the surface. I’ve watched WAY too many folks come flyin’ along, only to run into a pile of stumps

All that can be said about specifically targeting dogfish is hold on tight and really… don’t knock it till ya try it! While I do consider Dog’s to be a nuisance fish at times, when the goal is to specifically target them, it can be a lot of fun! Dog-Fishing is a great option to change it up and explore new water. It’s also a great alternative for guests in your boat that are looking for fast action and don’t care the species! Our average size fish was right around 5-6lb’s, give or take. They strike your bait like an out of control freight-train and fight like a pike on steroids! The best part of all is that anybody can do it, and more than likely you’ve already got the equipment and tackle to do so.

If you’re just looking to spend an evening out on the water catching fish and you really don’t care what kind, Dog-Fishing is something you’ve truly gotta’ try.

We’ll see ya out there



  1. Three quarters of a millions posts on IDO and yours is the first “I fished for doggies on purpose” report I can remember. And that actually looks like fun. I’d keep the good cranks in the storage and have at it with something “doggie-proof.” I know those fish fight like no other. How many did you land in a day?

  2. Quote:

    Three quarters of a millions posts on IDO and yours is the first “I fished for doggies on purpose” report I can remember. And that actually looks like fun. I’d keep the good cranks in the storage and have at it with something “doggie-proof.” I know those fish fight like no other. How many did you land in a day?

    There is a 1st for everything I guess
    Both BK and my Dad were the ones saying it would be neat to do a report on.

    This last trip numbers were a little lower, but typically speaking, 10-15 or so per trip isn’t out of the ordinary. Peak ‘Dog-fishing’ is really around mid July through mid August, however I had my sights key’ed in on walleyes during that time this year. I grew up catching them with both my dad and brother, mainly because it was great fun and easy to do.

    Have you ever run into them down on Pool-4?

  3. Awesome report and photo’s Pete!!

    I’ve caught them in the Vermilion on P4…and they are a hoot!

    Thanks for the report and don’t be surprised if I give you a call for some more info.

  4. You have 10 days to get rid of that smell before jumping in my truck and heading to the GTG.

    Great report Pete
    I love the fight that those Dogfish can give a person. I never even thought about targeting them.
    Nice job thinking outside the box for a very unique report.


  5. Never thought of catching them ‘intentionally’
    I do remember the first time one on those caught me, I thought I had the Northern Pike of the day on and cash in hand for the bragg’in bet in the boat. Then this thing shows up.

    However, nice report.

  6. Used to fish a little lake for bass and they would pop our frogs and make you think you had the new record on.A whole lot of fun to catch,but not fun to unhook from a rubber frog.
    Good report Pete.

  7. Great report Pete. I know guys hate em but a person has to appreciate the power of these dinosaurs. Nothing can destroy a good gill and crappie brushpile faster than a dog
    Have also heard that they make good table fare(nope, never knifed one myself) but there seems to be a commercial market out there.
    Again, nice write up

  8. Pretty cool report Pete!

    We’ve caught them on occaison over here on the Wisconsin river also. Never actually targeted them though.

  9. This is great! Good report Pete, love the photos.

    In a past life I was a flatty fisherman like BK, and lost more than a few good bullies to those things. When they could get a bully down the gullet, I was amazed at how voracious these things really are. On Med. spinning tackle, I’m sure they’re a hoot.

    BK’s right too, the Vermillion is chock full of ’em. Can’t tell you how many fat white bellies I’ve seen when they roll on the hookset…..every time I’m fooled into thinking they’re a monster eye. Then they actually fight and I know better.


  10. Still laughing here… You neglected to mention how you cooked them? I usually feel like an odd ball as I chase channels cats more often than not. Finally someone is below the bottom feeder moniker so often sent my way. We used to stick some monster doggies on a little back water called woodman lake off the Wisconsin River. They would eat anything alive or dead.

  11. eating them is a deathwish. i just did a report on mercury pollution, guess which fish had the highest ppm out of 30 freshwater species? their 0.96 average is only 0.92 over the EPA toxic level. nothin’ says lovin’ like neurotoxin in the oven.

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