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We get a taste of ‘Catfish Heaven’ on the Red By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

DRAYTON, N.D. | I stood there braced in Brad Durick’s G3 riverboat trying to muscle in yet another Red River catfish. Durick stood poised with the landing net on my brother, Dean’s side of the boat. This scenario had been playing out over the past two hours. I couldn’t help but think: “If you are a cat fisherman, you don’t have to die to find catfish heaven. Hit the Red when it’s right and catfish heaven is right here.”

Dean grunted as he heaved back on the 7-and-a-half-foot Rippin Lips catfish rod pulling the 20-pound channel cat to the surface where Durick, with a practiced dip of the net, enveloped the husky cat in the mesh where it continued to thrash and lunge all the way into the boat.

There is no quit in these fish.

It was nowhere near net time for my fish so Durick slipped the 8/0 circle hook from the corner of the cat’s mouth and slipped him back into the silt-laden currents of this magnificent catfish river.

My rod was bowed clear down into the handle, and I marveled at how any rod could take this kind of punishment day after day. You can put a lot of pressure on a fish with 30-pound-test monofilament, and we were. The butt of the rod was jammed into my hip, and I had to move it a bit because it was beginning to hurt. I surmised there would be bruises there before this was done. And there were.

Yeah, catfish heaven.

This all began about a week earlier, when Durick, a catfish guide headquartered in Grand Forks, N.D., told me, “We put about 500 pounds of cats in the boat in five hours yesterday. You need to come up.”

All it took was a call to Dean at his farm home near Worthing, S.D., and he was on board. A day later, Brad said, “We put 63 in the boat today.”

Wild.

I had fished the Red before. I can’t even tell you how many times beginning in the late 1980s at the Mecca of all channel catfishing, which is below the dam at Lockport, Manitoba, just a few miles north of Winnipeg. On our 35th wedding anniversary, Fran and I spent a day there catching 44 fish in four hours.

Brad, who is the veteran of several trips to Lockport, said he could beat that here. Today.

“This is a fantastic pre-spawn bite,” he said. “I have not seen anything like it since the spring of 2012.” [Read more…]

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Living the catfish dream on the Red River By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

For many Siouxland catfish anglers, North Dakota’s Red River is the place where dreams are made. It is where hundreds of dedicated cat men trek to each year to seek battle with one the toughest fish that swim, the channel catfish.

Brad Durick of Grand Forks, North Dakota, lives this catfish dream every day.

He is a full-time catfishing guide on the Red and also can arrange trips on North Dakota’s Devils Lake. He is also a nationally recognized fishing educator and outdoor writer. He is the author of the 2013 self-published book “Cracking the Channel Catfish Code” and his recently published “Advanced Catfishing Made Easy.”

Durick was on hand for last week’s Fish Fest hosted by the Sioux City Scheels store at the mall.

He is in his ninth year of guiding on the fabled Red. He expects a great season this year, but it will be hard to beat last year, he admits.

“It was an outstanding year,” he said. “You just happened to be there on the worst week of the year.”

Brad was referring to an April trip that Gary Howey of Hartington, Nebraska, and I had made. The river was 13 feet higher than normal, running dirty and full of floating snags and trees. But we still managed to catch plenty of catfish up to 16 pounds.

“Last October was just phenomenal,” he said. “Fully as good as Lockport, Manitoba, for numbers and size.

“With the low water we have now, I think it will just pick up where it left off,” he smiled. “If we don’t get some rain, it’s going to be hard on gear. I’m thinking the fishing is going to start really good in about two weeks. Water temperature right now is about 40 degrees, but when it reaches 50 degrees, it’s game on. [Read more…]

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It’s High Water on the Red For Catfish By Gary Howey

Grand Forks, N.D. The water in the Red River was up, up a lot, up thirteen feet with debris, branches, logs and even entire trees, floating by as they headed north towards Canada.

The Red River begins its journey north where the Bois de Sioux and the Otter Trail rivers flow between Minnesota and North Dakota flowing northward through the Red River Valley into Manitoba Canada.

Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. our guide Brad Durick and I found ourselves anchored just above one of Brad’s favorite catfish holes.

Brad, a guide specializing in fishing for channel catfish on the Red of the North, he is the author of the 2013 book, “Cracking the Channel Catfish Code” and a nationally recognized educator and outdoor writer.

On this trip, we were after channel catfish, which have poor eyesight, but a tremendous sense of smell as they have receptors in, along the outside of their lips and on the barbells protruding from either side of their month. Catfish use these receptors to follow the scent coming down river, helping them to locate their meals, even in the muddiest of waters. When you are fishing for channel catfish, you had better use bait that is oily and smelly the better if you want to entice these bottom dwellers into biting. We were using chubs and goldeye for cutbait, both oily fish and when cut into inch and a half to two-inch pieces, they leave a scent trail, which is easy for the fish to follow. [Read more…]

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Red River Channel cats on the bite By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. | It was the Mother of All Cold Fronts that swept through Grand Forks, N.D., and other parts north a couple of weeks ago.

“The river is up about 13 feet from where it was a week ago,” Brad Durick told me over his cell phone. He was on the Red River with noted outdoor photographer Bill Lindner and staff, doing product still and video filming.

Gary Howey and I were pounding down the interstate on our way to Grand Forks after flying out of Ontario’s Carroll Lake. We were to fish with Brad the next day.

We had battled the effects of that cold front for the past week, all the way from Lake of the Woods to the Ontario fly-in. For the next few days the sun would be shining and we hoped the catfish, for which the Red River is noted, would be in a biting mood the next day.

As it turned out, they were.

The tip of Brad’s Rippin Lips catfish rod took a heavy dive and stayed down while the Rippin Lips 8/0 circle hook did its work. I picked up the rod and began battle with the channel cat.

It was a 10-pounder and like all his brothers, he fought to the end before we finally got him in the net.

“That cold front dropped the water temperature several degrees,” Brad said, “and that slowed the fishing. It was really great before.”

But the fishing was bouncing back and the next rod dipped with the bite of a 4-pounder.

Durick is widely known throughout the cat-fishing world. He is now a full-time cat-fishing guide on the Red and also can arrange trips on North Dakota’s Devils Lake. He is also a nationally recognized fishing educator and outdoor writer. He is the author of the 2013 self-published book, “Cracking the Channel Catfish Code.”

Prior to the cold front, the Red was running very low. The area had received little snow so there was no runoff, kind of unusual for this area.

In fact, in 2011 the river was at near flood stage the entire year. Now, with the river running 13 feet higher than earlier this year, Brad says the level is just right for good cat fishing.

“We just need it to warm up a bit,” Durick, a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, said.

We had launched Brad’s 19-foot G3 aluminum boat at the Grand Forks boat ramp and headed downstream, which is north on this side of the divide. We hadn’t run very far before Brad pulled above a river hole just off the main current and dropped his Cat River anchor (made in rural Hinton, Iowa, by the way) over the side.

With all three of us licensed to fish, we could put out two rods each. Each rod was rigged with 30-pound test mono on Abu Garcia Ambassadeur reels. A no roll, 2-ounce sinker rode above a swivel and a 2-foot leader of mono ran to the hook. The rigs were baited with cut sucker pieces. [Read more…]

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Red River catfish guide talks catfishing By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

Mention Red River of the North to any fisherman in Siouxland and visions of big channel catfish will begin dancing in their minds.

There is no place on earth that produces the number of big channel catfish than does the Red.

It’s a 545-mile-long river that is born from water spilling out of the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers near Beckenridge, Minn. It flows north, forming the border between North Dakota and Minnesota before flowing into Manitoba on its way to Lake Winnipeg.

Brad Durick has guided on the Red for the past eight years, working out of Grand Forks. Currently, Durick has turned to full-time guiding, writing and educating catfish anglers.

“Catfishing on the Red should start about May 1 this year,” Durick said. “Of course if we get another weeklong cold front that sees highs in the 40s, that goes right out the window. Of course catfish bite right after the ice comes off and there are guys catching them right now, but I don’t get too excited until the water temperature hits 48 degrees. When it gets into the mid 50s, I really start getting excited.”

Durick was on hand for last week’s Fish Fest hosted by the Sioux City Scheels All Sports store at the Southern Hills Mall.

“We’re going to have very low water conditions this year,” he said. “There will be no flood this year or the threat of one.

“I would not say that low water makes fishing tough,” he continued. “It just makes it different from what you are used to. You fish more in the channel of the river than you do when dealing with high water. The fish will be working the current seams just as they do in high water, but it will be more toward the middle of the river.” [Read more…]