While many opportunities exist to apply drifting tactics, and while these tactics remain mostly overlooked, in many areas of the country they have caught on. Gary Schrock runs the Mighty Miss Guide Service (309/299-2554) from his Business in Oneida, Illinois. Once summer sets in, Schrock drifts the channel edge in the Mississippi River pools 16, 17 and 18. The pools, though, are incidental to the fact. It’s the technique that’s applicable in cat waters across the country.
On Mississippi river pools, channel edges are marked with buoys to aid barge navigation. An angler can pretty much drift the channel edge by staying just outside the buoys. Schrock, however, uses sonar to stay right on the drop-off edge into the main channel. Channel cats can be found on the shallow part of the edge, up and down the edge, or at the base of the edge. During summer, though, most of the fish are along the deep portion of the edge.
Schrock drifts with his boat perpendicular to the main current, running his lines, set in rod holders, on the upstream side of the boat. He uses a stern-mounted electric trolling motor to keep the boat drifting just so, but two small sea anchors or two five-gallon buckets positioned on opposite ends of the boat accomplish the same purpose. The buckets or sea anchors ride with the current, out of the way on the downstream side of the boat.
To begin each day, Schrock gathers gizzard shad with a cast net, then places them on ice to keep them firm for the day’s fishing. His terminal rigging is the same classic setup most of you use for still fishing: He slides a ½- to 1-ounce Schrock round sinker on his main line using a sinker slide and bead and then adds a swivel on the end of the main line to hold the sinker in place. He most often spools 17-pound-test line on his reels, then adds 24 to 36 inches of 14-pound-test leader to the end of the swivel. He chooses a 3/0, 4/0, or 5/0 Eagle Claw Kahle hook, depending on the size of the shad gathered that day
Schrock says his method for hooking the shad is important. He slides the Kahle hook into the mouth of a shad, carefully runs it along but not through the backbone, then finishes by leaving the point of the hook inside the shad near the tail. The shad bent in a semi-circle by the shape of the wide-bend hook tumbles seductively in current, yet remains debris-resistant. A cat grabs hold of the bait bouncing along the bottom, the tip on a limber rod dips down, the angler lifts the rod from a rod holder and sets, bringing the hook point from the shad into the mouth of the catfish.
The rig is shown on the product page with the Schrock drift rig.
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