Red River Catfish

Manitoba is host to a wide array of incredible angling opportunities, however we are probably best known for our trophy greenback walleye on Lake Winnipeg and arguably the greatest sport fishery on the planet with our world class channel catfish on the mighty Red River.

Sure it’s the greatest channel catfish fishery, but the best sport fishery? Come on now!

Well let me explain. I understand that not everyone is into catfish. Some anglers prefer the pursuit of musky or northern pike, while others chase the elusive walleye, still more won’t even bat and eye for anything other than a bass and so on and so forth. What I am saying is if you take the world’s best fisheries for each species and then compare the numbers of large fish you can catch consistently on those systems throughout the year, you would have a hard time finding many if any that compare to the Red River and her mighty channel catfish.

The Red River channel catfish fishery is a modern utopia of catfishing. I am going to steal a comment from Doug Stange, Editor and chief of In-Fisherman. Imagine a waterbody where you can catch 10lb walleyes all day every day and describe it as average fishing? Imagine a place where you can catch 5lb smallmouth bass and 10lb largemouth on every second cast and not really get excited about it. That is what we are talking about when talking about fishing the Red River for channel catfish. Across most if not all catfish waters across North America a 10lb channel cat is considered a big channel catfish. On the Red River of the north we try to shake them off the hook without a picture or a measurement if it’s 15lbs or less. An average half day of catfishing generally will produce 12-20 catfish from 18-25 lbs if the bite is average to good. As an angler it is something you should experience once in your life even if cats are not your thing.

Stats on Cats:

The catfish in our neck of the woods don’t do stink baits. They are the top predator in a river loaded with baitfish and food sources. Other than very specific times of the year, they will generally be caught on the freshest natural bait you can catch or buy. They are the ultimate match the hatch predator. Fresh sucker, fresh goldeye, fresh tullibee etc…. fresh fresh fresh. On occasion shrimp, squid, beef hearts and other stinky or drippy concoctions can work well but rarely is it the best. The key with all fishing is being versatile, so be prepared to switch it up if necessary.

Other than some tweaks to traditional presentations or corking (aka float fishing), as the always changing water conditions present these opportunities, the go-to tactic is anchoring and dropping a slip sinker rig or “catfish rig” on bottom with a 4-8 oz no roll slip sinker, 2 foot lead and 5/0 – 8/0 circle hook. My personal preference a 7/0 Owner needle point offset bait hook as I don’t often use circle hooks myself, but that is another whole article. (You must fish barbless in Manitoba)

Both Selkirk and Lockport, Manitoba, on the shore of the Red River, are drive to locations with easily accessible pay to use boat launches and an abundance of accommodations and restaurants. My website below contains several links and information.
Season is open for business as of May 13th 2017 and the cats will be waiting!

Special Opportunity:

As my season starts to book up I would like to make an offer to all fans of AnglingBuzz reading this article. If you are interested in tackling the bottom dwelling fury of the mighty Red River with me as your guide and host please mention you read about this in AnglingBuzz and I will offer you 50% off your rooms at the luxurious Canalta Hotel in Selkirk, Manitoba when booking a 2-3 day catfishing adventure at This is a limited time offer as I only have so many discounted rooms available and once they are gone, they are gone.
Book your world class catfishing adventure today!
(Picture included is a rare once in a lifetime catch from last spring. Blackwater Cats guests caught a 34 inch master angler Albino catfish. A true Lifetime accomplishment)
Donovan Pearase
Blackwater Cats Outfitter

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