Are you nuts?

What would make you think that is fun? These are just a couple of the comments I received last year when I got the bright idea to purchase a fleet of kayaks to expand my guide service into adventure catfishing.

I must admit that I was (and still am not) and expert kayaker but the idea of tussling with a trophy channel cat just seemed really fun to me and with the booming market of kayak fishing, it just seemed like a great thing to do.

In my case, I had to take some time to learn my kayak. I equipped myself with an Old Town Predator kayak and rigged it with a Humminbird Helix 5 depth finder and two Driftmaster rod holders. I spent a few weeks in the shallow coulee behind my house getting the feel for paddling and moving around in my kayak with comfort. You see, I am far from a physical specimen of fitness. In fact, I have the stereotypical catfisherman physique.

Once the catfish season got rolling and the water was of a manageable pace, I jumped in with both feet so to speak. I launched my kayak and headed to one of my favorite areas to fish. Still not comfortable with an anchor, I just pinned myself to the bank with a fiberglass post when I wanted to fish. It took nearly two hours to get a bite. Filled with anticipation and uncertainty I set the hook and fought about a 12-pound channel cat. I quickly learned that they are in control when you are stuck in a seat at their level. I landed that fish and had a complete mess of a boat but learned a ton in those few moments.

Over the next couple of months, I went out a few more times catching small to mid-sized catfish with some success and everyone was still a rush. During this time, I got very comfortable in my kayak and learned to anchor comfortably in the middle of the river giving me even more options on locations.

One morning in August I made another step in going out fishing with the kayak alone. I paddled to the general area I wanted to fish, found my spot, anchored, cranked up the tunes and sat back. It was no more than 15 minutes and I had a hit that I knew was not a small fish by any means. This time I was under anchor in the middle and didn’t have a bank nearby should something go wrong. This fish pretty much owned me until I was able to get him vertical and wear him out. I finally landed this 17-pound monster over my legs. For the first time in years, I was shaking and cheering out loud with the excitement of landing a catfish.

As the season wound down, I talked a buddy into traveling to a section of river with heavier current and bigger fish. We had a great time that day landing nine catfish in under four hours. One cat in particular that I caught went 20 pounds, a true trophy. This one I was pinned to the bank and had my second line out when he hit. Once he was hooked up, I pulled the pin and let him tow me down the river during the fight. Right after I was free, I realized this was a bad idea since he was dragging me into a snag pile. With one hand holding the rod, I paddled with the other to try to steer the fish to the middle.

I finally got by the snag, then the fish did a circle getting me backward in the river while free floating and fighting this fish. I am told the commentary I was giving was quite entertaining. After about five minutes I was able to get a grip on the fish and get it onto my lap.

I am still not sure if the Adventure Catfishing guide service is going to make it, but I can say certainty that fighting channel cats from a kayak is an absolute blast and I will be doing it more in the future. It takes an already good fight and makes it into an epic battle.

Captain Brad Durick is a nationally recognized catfish guide on the Red River of the North, seminar speaker, and author of the books Cracking the Channel Catfish Code and Advanced Catfishing Made Easy.

About The Author

Captain Brad Durick

Captain Brad Durick is a nationally known catfish guide, outdoor writer and educator coming from the famed Red River of the North and is based in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Durick owns Brad Durick Outdoors LLC ( is the only full time channel catfish guide on the Upper Red River. He is the Director for the Scheels Boundary Battle Catfish Tournament ( and the Drayton Rod and Reel Rally ( on the Red River and sits on the Board of Directors for the Red River Valley Catfish League ( Durick spends countless hours researching river channel cats to fine tune patterns to catch more and bigger catfish. This research led to the release of his 2013 book Cracking the Channel Catfish Code and his 2016 follow-up Advanced Catfishing Made Easy. In addition to writing two books, Captain Brad writes catfishing articles for various publications. He is also instructs Catfish University seminars each winter around the Midwest. Captain Brad Durick is partner with: G3 Boats, Cat River Anchors, Frabill, Plano, BUGG Products LLC, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Dexter Knives, Big Frig Coolers, Costa Sunglasses and Drift Master Rod Holders.