By Dan Kiazyk
Practiced to a greater extent south of the border, up here in Manitoba along the banks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, many opportunities for world class shore cattin’ exist. However few avail themselves of this enjoyable opportunity to go toe-to-toe with some cantankerous cats. Why? I’m not sure, but if a few fellas were to give it a go, they soon fall under its distinct spell.
Your equipment for shore angling will not differ to a great extent from what you’ll use in your boat. (Now I’ll admit that some of the European tackle specifically set up for shore angling will do a better job than the prior -- but as I see it once a guy is hooked he’ll usually gravitate in that direction anyway!) A tough pole and sturdy real loaded up with 15 – 20 lb test line is a good all-round starting point.
Actual tackle will be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. I’ll usually fish with two rigs: a bottom oriented rig and a floating rig. Bottom oriented rigs need not involve more than a few simple components. A 1/0 to 5/0 bait holder or kahle syle hook will suffice for most applications. A high quality (size 6) swivel and an assortment of egg style weights 1 oz. to 2 ½ oz will be all the tackle that is required for bottom-oriented rigs. As for floating rigs, the only other components that are required are a small assortment of split shot, a bobber/float stop (string or neoprene) and floats /bobbers. Rigging in terms of the latter will be the same as what I’ve already described in other articles.
Another key factor to success, while bank fishing will be a means to keep your bait fresh and easily accessible. A smaller cooler packed with ice will keep cut baits and worms (packed in their own Styrofoam container) fresh all day.
Comfort is another significant consideration. If you’re angling in the hot sun of summer proper protection is necessary. A hat, sun block , sunglasses, water, some other vittles all make the day that much more enjoyable and safe. A small chair and a rod holders are items which will make some tasks possible and others more enjoyable (sitting on dirt or rocks for an hour can be uncomfortable as can holding a rod for hours!). Make the day an outing where you can enjoy the environs and the company you maybe keeping. Oh, by the way this is Manitoba……..some type of bug repellant is a good idea unless you’re impervious to mosquitoes the size of small birds!
Some other components that make cattin’ from shore more feasible will be a net, measuring tape, rod holder and box to put all this stuff within. For the latter I’ll use a plastic milk crate to carry all my stuff. The crate not only carries well but it can also serve as a seat and a container in which you can place any fish you might want to keep.
Now there have been some developments in Europe with reference to shore fishing….. At this point I’ll just suggest to the neophyte to have a look and see what a technical pursuit this kind of angling can become. Who knows maybe you’ll be inspired to come up with your own interim solutions.
Perhaps the one real mystique the comes with this type of angling is finding those areas where you’ll find fishing willing to bite. A good “eye” is important to being able to see those areas where cats are likely to hide out. I’ll often bring some of my trout fishing experience to help me to dissect any river. Holes will usually be indicated by still water, sharper banks. I’ll usually try to get at holes at the back end of a curve in the river (there is a washing-out action going on throughout the season). Earlier on in the season I’ll also concentrate on the back end of riffles. Cats seem to like to sit at the back end of these areas picking off whatever food washes their way. Being strong swimmers they would probably have a lot more control than smaller bait fishes in that particular area.
Being able to locate cats on the Red is a little more complex than knowing “where” to fish. Water levels and weather systems, forage cycles, and seasonal movements all impact on where cats will be at any time. However, having a bit more knowledge can only make any cattin’ day on the big ol’ Red that much better
Shore cattin can be an extremely relaxing and rewarding experience. Taking the right tact and developing a repertoire that tries to improve upon each outing will only result in a shore fun “cattin day”.