Diversion forcing catfish to gang up at cuts

The last week in May usually has most fishermen heading for the coast for Memorial Day weekend.

Grand Isle, Lake Pontchartrain, or Cocodrie are popular destinations to catch speckled trout. With the BP oil spill and the closure of all the commercial and recreational fishing grounds, what are the alternatives?

Locally, the Davis Pond Diversion is running wide open re-routing 8,000 cubic feet of Mississippi water per second with the intention of keeping the oil out of area lakes. The high volume of river water entering Lake Cataouatche has caused catfish to gang-up at the cuts on the north shoreline.

There are seven cuts, and catfish are feasting at the mouth’s of all of them. Bunched up bait fish such as large shiners, pogies, and small bream have made it a place for catfish to get an easy meal.

Launching out of Pier 90, travel south in the Sellers Canal to Lake Cataouatche.  When reaching the lake, turn right and head West.

The shoreline is very shallow, so stay out in the lake about 400 yards. Most Pro-drives and go-devil’s do not have any problems.

After finding one of the cuts, approach it going up current. About 100 yards from the cut, drop the anchor.  A Carolina rig with a ¾ ounce weight and #3 hook baited with earthworms will set the stage for a good fishing trip.

Throw your bait down current and reel in the slack. I like fishing with three rods at a time fanning the back of the boat.  Within a few minutes if the fish aren’t biting, pick-up the anchor and move closer to the cut. Start the procedure over again.

Eventually, you will find good-sized hungry catfish.

Even redfish trips turning up catfish

Last week, David Harrison and I made a redfishing trip to Bayou Perrot and the south shoreline of Lake Salvador. Leaving Pier 90, we crossed Lake Cataouatche and Lake Salvador.

Using market shrimp, we managed to catch one black drum and a 10-inch speckle trout. Throwing a black/white tuxedo cocahoe on a gold spinner, I managed to catch one keeper redfish.

The afternoon was still young, so we decided to fish one of the cuts for catfish on way back to the launch. We caught 25 catfish at the third cut from the Sellers canal.

On our way to the launch, David asked “How do you clean your catfish and how long does it take you?” I explained to him from the time I make the first cut on the catfish, skin, and fillet approximately 30 seconds.

When we arrived home, I demonstrated my techniques of cleaning a catfish.


Cleaning a catfish

• Grab the fish so the barbs are between your index finger and second finger. The top barb, the dorsal fin, will be on top and the head of the catfish will be in your palm.

• Cut behind the dorsal and slide the tip of the knife forward to the head and make another cut on the opposite side of the fish.

• Make cuts on each side of the fish at an angle towards the belly from the head.

• Slide the knife through the stomach to the anus.

• Using skinning pliers, grab the cut skin behind the head, on either side, and pull.  Turn the fish on the other side and do the same. With a little practice, you will be able to do a one pull technique.

• After skinning, break the head from the back bone.

• Place the skinned catfish on a fillet board and cut along the side of the ribcage back to the tail. Turn the fish over and fillet the other side.


It takes about 30 second to skin and fillet. A 12-inch catfish is easier to clean than a 10-pound catfish. Remember, “Practice make Perfect!”


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