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Catfishing on James River

Joined: 03/05/2008
Location: NE
I am looking for some input on trying to plan a trip to the James to try some catfishing with my son this late Spring and Summer (what is best time?) We will be traveling from Valentine, NE.

We want to center our efforts on the section of the river south of the interstate. About the only information I have found for fishing the James has been on this forum and a couple of newspaper articles talking about the state record flathead.

We are more interested in quantity (to keep us busy) than size. Although it would be nice to have the opportunity for both. We would be interested in information on both channels and flatheads.

We have two potential boats that we could use. A 14 ft. jon with a 25hp, that would require some type of boat ramp, and a 15 foot scanoe that we can put a small outboard on and put in about anywhere. The only information I could find on a ramp was one off hwy. 18 near Olivet and Menno. I am sure there are others but don't have a clue.

Also looking for suggestions on bait? Can you catch chubs, goldeye or mooneye in the river to use for cut bait? Can you catch anything for live bait for flathead? Any suggestion for natural or prepared bait?

We have a camper, but with the price of gas it may be cheaper to stay in a motel than continue to enrichen OPEC and Hugo Chavez. It would be nice to know if there are any campgrounds around the river somewhere, whether it be in small towns or recreation areas.

I realize I have almost written a book here but would really appreciate any feedback I could get. We don't have very much time in the summer and want to make the best use of it. We do wrestling camps and summer retreats on our ranch near Valentine and we are going to try to squeeze in a trip or two between our commitments.

Re: Catfishing on James River
by on 03/22/2008 7:21 PM | Reply #1 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 04/16/2007
Location: SD
I know you want to fish the james but up here around mobridge you can catch all of the catfish you could ever dream of. Just find a buy and use any stink bait or crawlers and you will have a blast and they are good eating. If i remember right there are no limits on cats and you have a chance at some big ol kittys up here. There are some realy nice campgrounds and you will have the cats all to your self. I have taken a couple kids out and they can hardly keep there lines in the water when they are going.
Re: Catfishing on James River
by on 03/22/2008 9:57 PM | Reply #2 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 03/05/2008
Location: NE
Thanks for the suggestion. I thought that catfish might be a underutilized fish in the reservoirs with the great walleye fishing you have.
Re: Catfishing on James River
by on 04/13/2008 8:00 PM | Reply #3 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 04/10/2008
Location: SD
Most of the Jim River in SD is a catfish factory, so any stretch you choose will offer good fishing. The lower stretches of the Jim produce the largest cats. I do most of my fishing around the Huron area and my average fish is about 5 lbs, with fish around 10lbs common, and if you want to catch smaller fish just use smaller bait. Its the best catfishing in terms of size and overall number of fish that I've ever seen.

You don't really need a boat to fish the Jim, and some times it can be a hindrance (especially during low water levels, but the river is at a nice level right now). There are low head dams all over the river, about one every five miles, so you can't really go all that far in a boat. I prefer to find a good spot, either a nice outside bend with some logs or below a dam and fish from shore. And options for launching and landing your larger boat are few. I would recommend the smaller boat, it will offer you much more flexibility.

As for fishing spots, try fishing downstream of the rock dam at Milltown. The rock dam at Olivet is also a good bet, and there is a landing there. I believe the landing is upstream of the dam, however. But that's a good stretch of river. The yankton area is also excellent. You could carry your smaller boat down at the old hwy 50 bridge just east of Yankton. One strategy that I consider the most fun is to get on the Jim River road, which runs along the river for much of its length (on both sides in some places) and find a spot with access to the river. Launch your little boat and go find a fishy looking spot.

For bait I like small carp (dead and somewhat mutilated) or gizzard shad the most. Last year's class of carp is too big right now, but you should be able to net some gizzard shad. The Jim isn't a smart place to be pulling a seine, though. The bottom is very muddy in many places and it gets rather deep. I've been using a half a smelt so far this spring and they've been performing admirably. Cutbait works, too. Snag a carp or buffalo or something and chop it up.

You can camp at the place you launch your boat in Olivet. Its a little campground along the river. You could put out lines at night there, too. As for when to come and fish, the fish are already biting and will continue to bite all summer.

Hope this helps.

Good luck and tight lines!

Re: Catfishing on James River
by on 04/15/2008 8:55 PM | Reply #4 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 12/03/2005
Location: SD
That's some good advice right there. I have a 14ft boat and have been able to get around pretty good in the past. Just wanted to add that there is a ramp on hwy 81, just north of Yankton also.
Re: Catfishing on James River
by on 04/15/2008 11:09 PM | Reply #5 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 04/10/2008
Location: SD
Thanks majormaj, that one slipped my mind.
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Posted On: 03/22/2008 4:48 PM
3116 Views, 5 Comments

Tags: james, catfishing, river, summer, valentine, looking, trip, time, spring, plan
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Region: South Dakota

Categories: Fishing
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