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Red River

Species: Catfish

Season: Spring: Mid-May to mid-June

Coordinates: 50°23€² 7€³N, 96°48€²39€³W

Location: Flows through Red River Valley, Minnesota, and North Dakota; empties into Lake Winnipeg

Length: 885 kilometres

Hottest spot: Current scours just downstream of the Selkirk dam

Why we chose it:

Best for channel catfish

American anglers wet their pants talking about the channel cat fishing in the mighty Mississippi. I can’t imagine what they’d do if they ever ventured north and dunked a bait into Manitoba’s muddy Red River, home to simply the best channel cat fishing in the entire world. Here we’re talking about mammoth fish approaching four feet in length and weighing more than 30 pounds. And you don’t expect to catch just one of these big cats in a season or a lifetime. No, you can look forward to landing several giants over the course of just one day. What’s even more remarkable about this wonderful fishery, which is carefully managed on a catch-and-release basis, is that it shouldn’t even exist. Even during the peak of summer, the Red River barely warms up enough to trigger the channel cats to spawn, and it never reaches the temperature these fish find optimal. Somehow, though, they’ve managed to adapt. It doesn’t hurt, mind you, that the fish take refuge for most of their 20-year juvenile life in enormous Lake Winnipeg, into which the Red River flows. There the channel catfish remain largely inaccessible to anglers until they reach adulthood and finally venture into the Red for the balance of their lives—giants ready for action.

Hot bait: Fresh carp and shrimp on a barbless circle hook

—Gord Pyzer

Learn more: Blackwater  Cats

Gord Pyzer

Gord Pyzer

Fishing Editor Gord Pyzer is widely regarded as Canada's most scientific angler. Known in fishing circles as Doctor Pyzer, he worked for 30 years as a senior manager with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources before devoting all his energies to fishing. A member of the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame, the award-winning writer is also an internationally sought out speaker, tournament angler and field editor with In-Fisherman Magazine and Television. As well, he co-hosts the Real Fishing Radio Show with Bob Izumi. Catch Gord on the Outdoor Journal Radio Show live every Saturday morning 8:05AM EST. If you're in southern Ontario, tune your radio to Sportsnet 590 The FAN AM or visit www.fan590.com and listen live online.

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