Fishing Big Catfish in Israel?Posted on September 9th, 2009
[singlepic id=452 w=320 h=240 float=]When most anglers think of big catfish, they probably think of the southern U.S., the Red River in Selkirk, Manitoba, the probably the tributary rivers and streams that flow into Lake Erie, ON. I have caught my share of good-size channel catfish, and was always intrigued by going after really big cats, some that I have heard can reach weights of over 500 lb. (Mekong River Catfish, Thailand) !! Well, having made 4-trips to Israel, I found out a while ago that they certainly have giant catfish in the Sea of Galilee. Those big cats were not native to those waters, but probably introduced from South America decades ago. It’s interesting that I have fished for similar looking catfish in the Zambezi River right on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Africa, while we were shooting a 1-hr. TV special fishing for Tiger Fish. The largest catfish we caught on that trip was probably close to 7′ long and weighed about 60 lb.
On last Novembers Israel trip, one of the highlights was indeed catching small freshwater sardines in the lower Jordan River, and than using those sardines for bait in the Sea of Galilee for those big catfish. Different country, same principle. If you want to catch big channel catfish here in Ontario, you will do well to catch some gizzard shad, suckers, or buy some smelts and use them for bait. Native sardines from the Sea of Galilee are also the best bait for the Israeli catfish!
No matter how much you fish, catfish are tough to handle once you get them in the boat. As you watch this weeks TV program on TSN, you’ll see me trying to figure out how to exactly hold a 4-5′ long catfish without getting hooked, or spined.
On our trip we travelled about 2,000 km in 10-days, so we did not have much time to spend fishing at each location. The catfish shoot was only about 3 hrs. in length, but we managed to hook about 8-fish and landed 4-5 (the rest either cut our lines, or just got off from fighting so hard).