The float rigging and cutbait hit the water at the head of a near-shore 
current break. The float popped upright as the 1-ounce egg sinker settled the bait below. Reel quickly engaged, the float snapped under, I set the hook and in the shallows a giant fish blew up on the surface, spraying water high into the air. Keeping the pressure on, rod tip held high, rod bent into the butt, I cranked hard on the reel each time the fish gave a bit, with it boiling up again and again, thrashing, splashing as the camera rolled, capturing the pandemonium.

A channel catfish of about 22 pounds came to net and swung into the boat, maybe 60 seconds from initial contact to the big swing. No need to pressure fish like that but there’s no reason not to either in the name of great TV action. Guide Donovan Pearase put us on these shallow fish earlier in the day, as we shot another In-Fisherman show segment about using floats to catch catfish. Knowing the fish were holding shallow in several areas, we returned later to do battle with them again. A show segment titled “Combat Cats” was the result of a couple hours of fishing and fits perfectly into a 2014 show entitled “Sportfishing Action in Overdrive.”

The fishing on the Red River below the Lockport Dam near Selkirk, Manitoba, is as spectacular today as it was when I first fished it in 1985. Nowhere else over the intervening years have I found another fishery that compares—where the fish average so large and are so numerous.

On a good day on this section of the Red it’s common to catch 20 fish close to or surpassing 20 pounds. In most of North America a 20-pound channel cat is the fish of a lifetime. So it’s like finding a fishery where you can catch that many 12-pound walleyes in a day—or that many 12-pound largemouth bass. Or imagine a fishery with the potential to consistently produce a dozen 50-inch muskies in a day.

Fishing with Pearase (pronounced pierce), who has been guiding on the river for 20 years (, was a bonus. He knows the river far better than I and was especially helpful in shortcutting our time looking for shallow fish. Furthermore, we usually have readers and viewers who travel to areas we recommend who want to cut short their time finding fish. It’s nice to be able to recommend an exceptional guide, who we know not only will put you on fish and help you catch them, but is also a pleasure to fish with.

Imagine my surprise, too, when he graciously acknowledged In-Fisherman’s influence on his fishing. After his introduction to catfishing, he got the fever, went looking for information, and purchased a copy of Channel Catfish Fever, which we published in 1989. He also started reading articles about catfishing in In-Fisherman. The information in the book and the magazine he says changed the way he fished and subsequently changed his life. He also guides for the area’s famous greenback walleyes, on ice and on open water. He was the co-founder of Manitoba Outdoors, an online magazine about hunting and fishing in Manitoba.

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