Catfish Basics #012 – Barge Bites – Capt. Ben Goebel

Catfish anglers sometimes joke about “barge bites,” but many believe there is something to it. It refers to getting a bite after a barge has passed by. The theory is that the powerful barge disturbs, and possibly injures the bait fish, causing predator fish to get active. Capt. Ben Goebel (River City Guide Service) has a theory about the barge bite.

“I think the barge churns up the bait fish,” explained Goebel. “That causes the feeding fish to eat, not just catfish, but all types of fish. I think it also scares some fish from the middle of the channel to the channel ledges and occasionally to the flats.”

“Sometimes fish are like humans and other animals,” continued Goebel. “They don’t like to be bothered. I have seen it in my sonar when I got snagged in a tree when drifting. When I try to break the line, I could actually see the fish scatter on the sonar. Sometimes that will actually make them bite, similar to what happens when a barge goes by.”

Goebel is normally fishing with B’n’M Rods and Shimano Tekota Reels, spooled with 80-pound test Vicious Braid. He uses Backstabber 8/0 circle hooks (available from Capt. Scott Manning, Tennessee River Monsters) with great results. Whether he is bumping, drifting or anchored Goebel has one important tip for anglers when they observe a barge approaching. “I use skipjack 90 percent of the time, and combination of mooneye and skipjack for bait in the summer,” instructed Goebel. “Regardless of your choice of bait where you fish, be sure to put on a fresh bait when you see a barge coming towards you. There is at least a chance that you will get bit.”

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