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Giant Red River Channel Catfish

Giant Red River Channel Catfish

This remains one of the most famous channel cat fisheries in North America—certainly for numbers of large channel cats. The river flows along the border of North Dakota and Minnesota and then into Manitoba, through Winnipeg and Selkirk, before entering Lake Winnipeg.

In the lower reaches near Breckenridge Minnesota, big fish run 8 to 12 pounds. A little farther north in the Fargo-Moorhead area, plenty of 15-pounders are available. Still yet moving northward (downstream), the reaches around Grand Forks-East Grand Forks to Drayton hold numbers of fish exceeding 20 pounds.

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Below the Lockport Dam in Selkirk, Manitoba, just North of Winnipeg, you might expect more than twenty 20-pound fish a day, with 25 pounders common and 30-pounders attainable.

A good bite on the Red occurs during late May and June during the Prespawn Period, especially in tailrace fisheries, but the fishing remains good throughout summer and into October. A good setup for the 15-plus pounders is a 7.5- to 8-foot medium heavy casting rod matched with a quality reel spooled with 30-pound mono or braid. Slipsinker rigs work well, with a 5/0 to 6/0 circle hook and a flat no-roll sinker to match current conditions. Current seams, woodpiles, and mid-river holes and runs usually each hold fish depending on conditions.

Contacts: Guides Brad Durick (Grand Forks area), 701/739-5808, redrivercatfish.com; Donald Pearase (Selkirk area), 204/990-2171, blackwatercats.com.

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