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The blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus, is one of the largest species of North American catfish. Blue catfish are distributed primarily in the Mississippi River drainage including the Missourimarker, Ohio, Tennessee, and Arkansasmarker rivers. These large catfish have also been introduced in a number of reservoirs and rivers, notably the Santee Cooper lakes of Lake Marionmarker and Lake Moultriemarker in South Carolinamarker and the James River in Virginiamarker also in Powerton Lake in Pekin Illinois. The current angling world record is 124 pounds and was caught by Tim Pruitt on May 22, 2005, in the Mississippi River.

Blue catfish are opportunistic predators and will eat any species of fish they can catch, along with crayfish, freshwater mussels, frogs, and other readily available aquatic food sources (some blue catfish have reportedly attacked scuba divers.) Catching their prey becomes all the more easy if it is already wounded or dead, and blue cats are noted for feeding beneath marauding schools of striped bass in open water in reservoirs or feeding on wounded baitfish that have been washed through dam spillways or power generation turbines.

Due to their opportunistic nature, blue catfish will usually take advantage of readily accessible food in a variety of situations, which from the angler's perspective makes cut up or dead baits, and even stinkbaits an excellent choice to target these fish. Blue cats will also respond well to live baits, with live river herring and shad usually a top choice followed by large shiner minnows, sunfish, sucker, and carp. All of the above baits can be used as fresh cut baits with good success and freshwater drum also work well in this capacity. Generally a fairly large piece of cut bait (4-12 inches long) on a fairly large hook (3/0 to 9/0) is a good choice in rivers or reservoirs where large blue cats (50 pounds and up) are a possibility. Depending on current conditions sinkers ranging from 1/2 to 6 or 8 oz. may be required with 1-2 oz. a good choice for many situations. To catch large blue catfish in rivers the more current the better usually, although fishing along current edges and breaks is often a good option. Blue catfish tend to favor deeper water in larger rivers and reservoirs, but will make feeding and spawning forays into relatively shallow water.



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