Catfish are typically far down the list of favorite fish for Idaho anglers, which is odd, considering they're abundant, large, tasty and not that difficult to catch.
OK, that last point is debatable, but let's take a look at the others first.
They're abundant: The Snake River and its reservoirs are the mother lode of catfish in Southwest Idaho.
The population is so healthy and under utilized that Idaho Fish and Game uses the Snake as a source for transplanting fish to other areas.
Channel cats can also be found in Lake Lowell, and in many ponds throughout the Treasure Valley.
They're large: Catfish are common in the 2-to-3-pound range, and go up from there. It's rare to catch a channel catfish under a pound. They are long-lived fish, and routinely grow larger than 10 pounds.
The state record is a 31-pound monster caught from Mann Lake in north-central Idaho in 2001.
They're tasty: It's common to find catfish on the menu at restaurants ranging from fast food to fancy. Those are farm-grown catfish, but wild channel catfish will yield big, tasty fillets for a fish fry.
They're not that difficult to catch: OK, here's where things get a little tricky. Most people catch catfish while targeting other species, such as bass. Others catch them simply from sinking bait to the bottom and hoping something eats it, and occasionally, it's a channel catfish.
But channel catfish are like any other fish. The more time and effort you devote to catching them, the more you learn about them and the easier they become to catch.
Beyond stinkbait: For many anglers, sinking a wad of catfish stinkbait is Plan A, and they often lack a Plan B.
But if you want to get serious about catching channel cats, do some homework and then be prepared for trial and error.
There are a lot of misconceptions about channel catfish, such as they're mostly bottom dwelling, nocturnal scavengers that like swampy water.
They're actually native to fairly clear-running streams (the fish aren't native to Idaho). They feed on a variety of food both day and night, and they're adept hunters (most channel cats over 18 inches prey predominantly on other fish). Depending on season and water conditions, you may be more likely to catch them near the surface than on the bottom.
Your new Plan B: We've all heard of someone's secret stinkbait recipes. If you have one and it works, use it.
But you can also use nightcrawlers, chicken livers, crickets, crawdads and cutbait to catch channel cats.
There are other tricks to catch them besides bait dunking. Channel catfish will take many bass lures and even crappie jigs, but those that imitate bait will often work better than lures that attract bass by making a ruckus.
Channel catfish in reservoirs will linger beneath overhanging willows waiting for insects to fall out. Dangling a cricket beneath a bobber can catch them.
During summer, large schools of channel cats occupy riffles and moderately shallow water on the Snake River. Find an area fairly clear of weeds, try drifting bait similar to drifting bait for salmon and steelhead
During summer, they can often be spotted in the evenings aggressively feeding on insects on top of weedbeds. When it happens, fly anglers will occasionally target them like saltwater fish on the flats.
Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors