Deep water not always best for big catfish

So much for those who believe the best place to catch catfish is always in deep water.

Ryan Gnagy with a Milford blue catfish of about 21 pounds.

Monday Ryan Gnagy found a bunch of nice blue catfish in two to four-feet of water at Milford Reservoir. The best was pushing 21 pounds and the total catch was 17 blues, though all over about six pounds were released.

Gnagy is an avid catfish tournament angler from near Topeka, part-time guide and all-around nice guy and avid outdoorsman. Monday he volunteered to take me afloat at the spring Outdoors Writers of Kansas meeting at Junction City. He didn’t predict much success because Saturday’s angling had been slow for him. The blue catfish spawn is expected to be on and they’re a species of fish that often don’t bite well when “that” is on their minds.

The expert’s electronics showed the most fish on a broad and shallow mud flat near an old river channel. With special rigging, we dragged fist-sized chunks of cut shad about 150 yards behind the boat. There usually was no nibbling as the aggressive blues hammered the baits.

We each kept our limit of five blues, from three to about six pounds. Gnagy likes to release all larger fish, saying their growth rates after about that size puts them into the “Moby Blue” size in just a few years. ¬†We released the one pushing 21 pounds, plus others of about 15, 12, 11, 10 and several around 8 or 9 pounds.

We actually had 16 blues by noon. After lunch we headed to deeper water hoping to find a whiskered giant. In two hours of drifting we landed just one five-pounder.

No doubt, it was a shallow water bite.