They aren’t headline stars like walleye, steelhead and bass, but catfish continue to perform

They aren’t headline stars like walleye, steelhead and bass, but catfish continue to perform for anglers who love a good battle.

Catfish are common throughout Northeastern Ohio’s and western Pennsylvania’s rivers, reservoirs and ponds. Lake Erie has big cats, and so does the Ohio River. Such expansive range puts them in close proximity to virtually all who fish in our region’s waters, whether from a boat or the bank.

Walleye and bass anglers often catch catfish by accident. Reports from Berlin and Mosquito this spring said the channel cats sometimes outnumbered the walleye anglers were catching.

A growing corps of anglers targets catfish exclusively, with equipment and tactics as specific as those employed by the walleye and bass fans. Special rods, reels and exotic bait concoctions are evident wherever catfish specialists congregate.

From bullheads to channels to flatheads topping 40 pounds, Northeast Ohio is as good a place as any to enjoy a great catfishing experience.

Night fishing for catfish is a great experience. Anglers set up “camp” around catfish flats with lanterns, coolers loaded with sandwiches, comfortable chairs and all manner of rods, reels and bait. It usually doesn’t take long for the action to begin once the baits are in the water.

Mosquito Creek Reservoir will be the venue when the Trumbull County Federation of Conservation Clubs stages its Mr. Whiskers catfishing derby July 17. The event is staged in cooperation with Ohio Division of Wildlife and Ohio Division of Parks. Registration begins at 4 p.m., and official fishing hours are 7 p.m. July 17 through 7 a.m. July 18.

No entry fee will be charged, but anglers may opt into two jackpot competitions. One is for total weight of six catfish, and another for the single largest catfish.

Anglers should carefully read their Ohio Fishing Regulations. Size and bag limits have been established for channel and flathead catfish on Mosquito Creek Reservoir. The intent is to allow individuals of both species to grow to trophy proportions. Anglers may possess only one of each species that exceeds the regulations’ definition for “large.”

Organizers of the Mr. Whiskers event have made provisions for anglers to weigh multiple “large” fish as long as they can be released alive.

Information about the Mr. Whiskers event can be obtained by phoning Trumbull County Federation of Conservation Clubs members Bruce Knodel, 330-872-0674, or Jerry Usselman, 330-847-6295.

Impaired boaters beware

Ohio Division of Watercraft officers will be on alert for reckless boaters this Fourth of July weekend.

“Our focus this Fourth of July holiday weekend will remain on removing impaired boaters from our waterways and enforcing all boating laws,” said Pamela Dillon, chief of the watercraft division.

Last weekend, Ohio officers joined a nationwide crackdown, “Operation Dry Water,” to remove boaters impaired by alcohol and drugs. The operation resulted in the arrest of 11 intoxicated boaters and 198 other alcohol- and boating- related violations.

Boater operators are considered legally impaired if their blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or more.

Many are tempted to party a bit too much before getting into their boats. Drinking and boating is a dangerous — and illegal — activity.

Be safe out there this weekend. Even if you are sober, don’t assume the other boaters are as aware and alert as you.

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