Winter Deep Holes

Winter is a time of deep fishing…nothing new for us but for other fishermen, this can be quite an adjustment. When it comes to fishing winter, we have to think of what catfish need the most. Its kind of like cooking a meal for the family. If you get most of the ingredients right, then the meal might still be okay, but get them all right and you have a happy family.

When it comes to other seasonals, those “ingredients” can be pretty complicated or diverse. In winter, they can be very defined. Number one on my list is shad. Catfish want to winter where the food is. Sure they don’t have to eat but a few times each month but they still don’t want to have to work for it. Trust me, I’d love to have a McDonalds in my house instead of 3 miles away.

Now the shad this year are looking for the most stable water and none or limited current. In lakes, you can expect them to  move deeper in order to reach the water that is unaffected by surface temperatures.

This might be a new concept to some of you guys so let me take just a second to explain. The surface temperature is just one surface that affects the temperature of the water. Below, the ground places a temperature on the water. The ground stays a consistently in the low 60s. This comes in handy for keeping lakes from completely freezing. Thinks of lakes that freeze in the winter. They typically freeze in the top few foot but the fish live comfortable on bottom, where the temperature is greatly affected by the ground temperature around that area.

So we all know that shad are pretty fragile. Temperatures that get in the 40s will kill shad. Those temperatures are common in just about every state…maybe not florida. So shad are better suited to find more stable water than won’t get that cold. So deep they go.

In rivers, the water is constantly mixing but the ground temperature will still make the water warmer than air temps. The kicker is that pockets of nonmoving water will become warmer that the rest of the area. I like to think of it like the winter wind. In the wind, the air is frigid. Yes, cold. But if you can get out of the wind, the sun has a chance to warm that non moving air up and it feels great. Water works the same way. The moving water is colder. It is constantly mixing with colder surface water.

In holes and current breaks though, this mixing isn’t as heavy. Thus allowing the water to warm and cool in layers: the top layer is cold while the bottom layer is warmer. So I think we have covered why you should be fishing current breaks with shad.

But why does everyone talk about fishing large, very deep holes?

Thats simple. Larger areas of non moving water mean that there is more area of warmer water to live in. This means that you have a higher possibility of finding more fish in that given area: shad, bass, catfish, etc. In winter that is a huge plus. Those cats aren’t aggressive so if we can find a few tons of them then we can probably catch a few dozens. I like those odds.

But what about the deeper part?

Well do you remember when I was talking earlier about lakes and how the deepest water is the warmest. Well rivers are the same but just with a little more mixing of layers. The warmest or most stable water will still be the deepest places in the river. You can probably find a biologist that can tell you that after a certain depth the temperature is a nice 55 degrees or something like that but for me, I just want to find those few holes that are larger and deeper than the rest with shad in them. Nice and simple.

The Santee Cooper Rig

In catfishing, we are always looking for new rigs and ideas to try out. The Santee Cooper rig is right up our alley. Not only is it crazy simple but it is highly effective. Maybe the most efficient rig in many situations.

So How did I run across it?

Well I’m always studying books, youtube, and other websites for better ways to catch catfish. Also I’m not crazy about rigs that take a long time to tie. Yes they work great but I’m very impatient at times. But you can probably tell that from my other articles.

When I’m trying to place a bait off of bottom, the michigan rig is a good options in current situations. But in slow current and no current, the santee rig completely dominates.

How does it dominate?

Well its really quick to tie. It takes around 3 seconds longer to tie than a carolina rig but about 3 minutes faster than a michigan rig. It also floats the bait off bottom and even gives you options of additional tackle. Spinner floats! but thats for another blog.

Two great options. Plus you have all the benefits of a carolina rig. Great hook setting ability, long casting, very little chance of tangles, and less hangups. You can use it on live bait and cut bait. Flatheads, channels, and blues alike.

How do I create this rig?

Okay, I am going to over simplify this because its really that easy. Take a basic carolina rig. Now add a float or bobber in front of the hook and there you go. The float allows the bait to off bottom. Obviously, the bigger the float means the higher your bait will float off the bottom in certain current conditions.

Santee Cooper Rig

Larger floats are good for medium currents. Smaller floats are for lighter currents. I also like to use 1.5 foot leaders in current since the bait tends to spiral less in current with shorter leaders. This makes for an easier target for my catfish. Since you should be using this rig in light current, you should stick with the same length, but feel free to play around with this and get a feel for it yourself.

The best way to learn about catfishing is to take new advice and give it a try. Good Fishing

The Bite is Heating Up

Fall is coming in Strong and you need to get out and do some fishing while the bite is on.

As I talked about in my last post, when fall comes catfish go on a feeding frenzy. The cooler weather causes a natural response from catfish to start feeding up for winter.  To add to the fun, we’ve had a lot of rain down here so we’ve had a steady current for the past few weeks.

A steady current will always mean consistent fishing.

So fishing has been great down here. The catfish are pulling out of their deep summer holes to move toward eddy pockets near the bank. This means that we need to refocus our efforts toward shallow water.

Here’s What I’m Looking For!

When it comes to the fall, I’m looking for LARGE eddy pockets to start things off. If I’m fishing a lake, I would begin to check points and ledges heading back up tributaries. I want the largest areas because large areas hold more fish.

Next, I want to know that the pocket has baitfish. In the fall, bait becomes the number one key to success. If you don’t have shad or bream in your area, you are wasting time. I would say that cover should be ranked right up there with bait but blues throw that idea out every time.

How many times have you been fishing an area that doesn’t have much or any cover and caught a good blue catfish? They just don’t care where they find their food at.

So far we have large pockets with baitfish swimming around in there. So next we can finally add that cover. I want to largest or most cover possible. A stump is good but a stump field is even better. A few limbs caught up on a point isn’t much count but a log jam could be incredible.

My belief is that the cover gives baitfish a sense of protection. They can hide within the cover to keep away from predators. Large cover pulls in large amounts of baitfish. Think about any bream fishing you do in that area. You might of noticed that you catch more bream around cover than away from cover.

Oddly enough for those bream, more cover also means more catfish. Its a tough life for a bream.

So our job is to find large eddy pockets that have plenty of bait in them. And then if we find cover to go along with it, then we are in for a great fishing day.

Next we just have to get the bait and get a hook in the water. It’s a very simply strategy.

I’m working hard on creating an Ebook for Flathead Catfish. I’m trying to create a reference for yall to turn to if you ever have any questions. Have you ever wandered what you should look for to find flathead catfish? How about how conditions effect them? Also about how to find the specific bait that flathead’s are feeding on?

I’m excited about the releasing this Ebook in the coming weeks. Its so close to being done.

The First Cold Front of Fall

The first cold front of Fall is a great feeling. You wake up in the morning and think to yourself that you might need a small coat or a long sleeve shirt. No more 6 am and sweating. No more hot nights on the river… well atleast for a few days. And  the best part, much better catfishing. This front can happen anywhere in and around August. When the first cold front of Fall comes in, you can expect changes to be on the way.

The first think that always comes to my mind is that the summer patterns will be breaking up soon. We all know that catfish will be deeper in the summer to avoid those hot temperatures of the surface. But once the first cold front comes through, you can expect cooler surface temperatures. This will allow the catfish to spread out over larger and shallower areas.

When that first front comes through, I will return to those summer holes just to see if the catfish did move. Something the front might not be severe enough to affect deep catfish. If I don’t find them in their summer holes, I will continually fish shallower and until I come into contact with the fish.

This shallower movement might be a lateral or up river search. Daily conditions seem to move catfish lateral while seasonal conditions tend to move catfish up and down river. The first front of Fall is a wash about how well catfish will respond to it. But here is how you can expect them to respond:

  • No Response- the catfish won’t even notice the cold front and continue on their summer pattern. That’s okay because you’ve probably been catching them all summer
  • Little Response- we won’t see a big movement to shallower water but the fish will become more active.
  • Major Response- We’ll see the catfish make a quick move to nearby shallower tributaries and structure. They will also be ready to feed very aggressively. You might have trouble finding them but you won’t have trouble catching them once you do.

Judging the Current

Fishing a current can be a perplexing event. Sometimes your river will be flowing so slowly that you will think that its about to stall out. While other days, you’d be afraid to get too close to the water for free of being washings away. If you want to be a great river fisherman, you need to understand a few simple tips for catching catfish in those rivers.

First off, I want to say that a catfish’s possible location is directly tied to the current conditions. When you plan a day, you are eliminate or add certain areas just by this little piece of information. So let’s let’s start with a heavy flowing current.

The Quick Current

Have you ever tried to walk into a stiff wind? or tried to walk with someone pulling or pushing you? Its tough. Almost impossible if you have a big enough person pulling you. Current is just like that person pulling back against you. A heavy current will stop any movement through the current by a catfish. So what does this mean for us? Basically, we have to focus all our effort on or very near bottom and in current breaks.

Current breaks will offer the only reasonable areas that don’t require a catfish to expend tons of energy just to hold up. You will also find that many of the catfish will be tucked right behind the object that is creating the current break. Why? because this is the safest place for eddy water in that area. Remember, that current breaks are creating by anything that blocks or changes the direction of water flowing

You will also find that catfish will more away from the heaviest flow of the main current. Catfish will move to slower side currents that is created by the faster main current pushing against the slower current that is pushing off the bank and river bottom. This side current slower than the main channel  and also has a tendency to pile cover up on it. You can expect to find log piles, ledges, and points that will give your catfish cover to hide behind.

The Slow Current

Slow currents are a completely different story. You can basically say that all is fair game. A catfish can now freely more around the full extent of his/her river. Let’s say that you have a deep hole on a turn in the river. That’s the home of the catfish. With a slow current, you might still find that a catfish will move to the head of that hole to feed, but you might also find they will move out of that hole to search the bank cover or the flats around the hole. You might also that will move to the back of the holes.

Sure the key areas that I have mentioned in other articles will have a higher percentage of finding catfish, but that’s not the point that I’m trying to convey. I want you to see that the catfish might be spread out and that for you to catch more fish, you will need to be able to fish more aggressively. This is not the time to be sitting on one hole and waiting for the fish to come to you. You will need to use techniques such as a controlled drift or a drop and go technique to catch more fish.

The key to slower currents is actively searching for aggressive catfish. I’m constantly searching for aggressive catfish with any catfishing that I do. The secret to catching these fish is simply to find them. I’ll cover more future articles on the controlled drifts and the drop and go technique.

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Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

I’ve been around some stubborn fishermen before. My granddad might take the cake in his desire to only fish for catfish in one location and only fish for crappie in another. In his mind, I’m sure he believes that those locations are the only good places in the whole state. I’m not going to knock it. The man can catch catfish on a level far higher than most. But sometimes we need to expand on thinking to catch more fish. Today I want to tell you how to take the tips that I and others give you and make them truly work.

Tip #1: Understand the Basics

Any time we take on something new, we should at a minimum understand the basics. When I’m reading an article or watching a video on a new fishing technique, I’m looking for key elements. Those words that stick out as a much. Take most flathead catfishing articles for an example. Some articles can go on and on about the type of rivers they fish or size of hook. But in just about every article, you will see them talking about live bait and timber. So I immediately say to myself, I need to have live bait and to be fishing around wood cover.

Making those types of mental notes can quickly point you in the right direction. Try not to create too large of a list. Only keep track of the most important elements because those tend to be the most important.

Tip #2: DO or DIE

Get out there and do it. Tell yourself that you are only going to target that specific type of catfish or that you will only use a certain technique. Do this for a few fishing trips in a row. You might find that you do terrible the first time, maybe even the second. But you will continue to learn ways to improve your presentation.

It won’t take longer before you figure that new trick out to a point that you are great at it. I’d only give it 3 trips before you are catching fish consistently. And that’s my longest estimate. The big man up stairs typically gives you a good dose of lucky to help us feel more comfortable with new things and fishing is no exception. Just remember to go fishing with nothing else but a plan to use that new trip. All or Nothing.

Tip#3: Ask Questions

I know it awkward but those guys that are already using a technique know best. The guys that bank fish for food everyday are going to know those little tips and tricks to make you better. Be kind and list intently. If you don’t understand something, don’t be bashful about asking for them to be more specific. Most guys are more than willing to go into detail. You might also find that they are excited to do that.

Catfishing isn’t super competitive like bass fishing. Guys are genuinely pleased to help another angler. I know that most of the guys, including myself, have no problem making some extra time for you guys. Thats what we are here for.

Now get out there are learn those new techniques. Let’s continue to get better and catch more catfish.

 

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Fall is on the Way

Yep, Fall is coming. Cooler temperatures and better days. I love the heat but let’s me honest, it can make working and fishing outside tough. We’ve been fighting the heat for a few months now and I’m sure everyone is itching for a nice cool down.

So today I’m gonna write up a real quick article to get you started on fall fishing. So let’s just jump write in!

Quick Tip#1: Fishing Shallower works!

Yep the cooler temperatures will open up shallower water fishing opportunities. Those guy that are bank fishing will really enjoy this. You will start finding fish up smaller rivers, near damns, shallower on structure, and in shallower cover. But how do I know when those fish will be there? Easy!

  • Look for falling water temperature
  • Cool rain fall
  • Baitfish in the Shallows

Quick Tip #2: Fish Your Tailrace

Fall starts a big movement up stream to find new feeding grounds. Many of those catfish will become stopped by the dam. Catfish can’t jump dams like some legendary carp of Chinese legend. So huge schools can pile up behind dams.

Quick Tip #3: Those Cats will be Active

Look for a fast bite. Fall is feast or famine. Either the hole you are fishing is on or its not. When fall hits, catfish are usually very active and will readily eat you bait. Take advantage of this aggressive action.

Quick Tip #4: Bring Good Tackle

You’ll be catching a lot of catfish. You want good solid tackle that won’t quit if you forget to retie. I like to get 15 to 20 pound test mono for most of my catfishing. Good swivels and hooks are a must. You can get away with a decent, cheap rod and a solid reel but your terminal tackle is a must.

Okay I hope you enjoyed this quick article. Fall is coming. SO we should get ready for those cooler temperatures and easier fishing.

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The Real Secret to Catching Catfish

Hey Guys,

Its been a busy week for me. Between emails, fishing, work, and doing work around the house, I have been running full speed. I supposed that is just part of the Newlywed life. Honestly my biggest surprise is how much I have to cut grass. It grows like crazy. Literally, I have to tell myself that I have to cut grass before I hit the river.

Luckily after cutting grass, I have this amazing moment of clarity that tells me exactly what I should write about. Today something told me that I should talk about a subject that I don’t emphasize enough. But one that I really should. Its not timing or following seasonal patterns. its not bait or tackle. That’s for another day. Today I want to talk about movement. Making the right move at the right time is critical and today I want to give you a few tips to know when to move and where.

Tip #1: When in Doubt, MOVE!!!

If you ever begin to think that you should move, then you need to move. Doubt can destroy a fisherman’s logical thought. Here’s how things typically go in my head. I make my first stop and catch nothing. I tell myself that these fish are supposed to be here and be biting. Soon after my head starts going, ” What should I do?”. Then I sit there for another hour and catch nothing.

Where did I go wrong?

I stuck around in a location that the fish weren’t biting in. I should of moved the minute I thought something was wrong. That way I’m hitting refresh on my mind. But you don’t need to just move…

Tip#2: Have a Plan!!!

You should never simply move for the sake of moving. Yes, you need to move when you have doubt come into your mind but you must have a plan. Most people might say, “Well the catfish aren’t biting here. Maybe they will biting over there”.

That’s way too basic for us. We should be saying to ourselves,” Okay this location isn’t working. Should I try to fish deeper? Shallower? Is the current too strong in this area? Where is the bait at? Should I be looking for a different type of cover or area of river?” You should be asking questions about why your area isn’t working today and which areas would be better. Use that information to tell yourself where you should try next.

Here’s my classic example. I’m fishing out deep and not catching anything. Its time for a move. Deeps not working. I see a ball of shad swimming on top near the bank. Have the catfish moved to the bank to feed? Let’s move shallow and find out.

In that example, I gained a very small piece of information and ran with it. Bait location is important so maybe that’s a sign that I should follow. Maybe I’m fishing shallow but the water is low and clear. That might tell me to fish deeper. Use any type of information until you find something that will bite.

If you can’t find any additional information to find catfish, then you are completely allowed to say “Maybe they will bite over there”. But always use each stop to find out more information about where the mother load of catfish are.

Tip#3: Fishing 10 Areas is better than 3 Areas

Naturally, catfishermen are very methodical and slow to move from a fishing hole. This actually works against us in most situations. Take channel catfish for instance. These little guys are super aggressive. You can literally catch them within minutes of setting up on a hole. You will rarely have to wait more than 20 minutes to catch channels in a given area.

So using that information, I believe that any time past that 20 minute mark is either used to find bigger catfish, entice inactive catfish, or simply wasting fishing time. I can completely understand slowing down for bigger catfish. But the other two aren’t needed. If that group of catfish is inactive, then you should focus on finding active catfish. As a side note, you have a better hook to land ratio with active catfish over inactive catfish.

If you are looking to catch catfish consistently, you need to focus your efforts on fishing more places within a days time. If you were to move every 20-30 minutes, how many more places would you be able to fish in a days time? How many more areas would you be able to learn about? How much easier would you feel about fishing an area that you’ve never tried before if you can tell yourself that you’ll just move in 2o minutes if it fails?

Here are the Pros to Fishing More Areas.

  • You will learn more information about what the catfish are doing.
  • You find more reliable locations that hold catfish
  • You will learn more about those sweet spots for your areas.
  • You will find more active catfish within a days time.

If you are truly desperate and wanting to do anything to catch more catfish, you need to start by focusing your efforts on fishing more locations. After you have consistently done this for a few fishing trips, then you can refine your approach with things like timing, baits, rod layout, and techniques. You can’t catch a catfish that you can’t find. Good luck guys,

Justin Mott

An Email With Buckshot

Hey Guys,

I recently was emailed by a guy named Buckshot. He was kind enough to ask for my advice and also allow me to Post it on here. Great thing is, he has some great advice already in his post.  I hope yall use some of this information to help your catfishing.

Buckshot:

Dear Mr. Mott,

I’ve been fishing the Coralville Reservoir spill way or tailwater here in Iowa for years and keep having a repeat of results… It seem like I have several variables first being the water level. This area is prone to flooding and the core of engineers is constantly changing the water lake level and tailwater flow rate. Typically if it’s not flooding and conditions are ok.
I can catch flat head catfish like crazy for 2-3 weeks if the tailwater flow is between 3-5000 cubic/yrds/sec.. Well just so you know it’s common for me to take 5 or 10 six inch blugils and catch almost 1 flathead per baitfish ranging from 3-35lbs in about 1-2 hours off bank in an eddy. The problem comes when the water is too fast/slow or high or low cause then the eddy is gone or out of control.. Early june and late may if the level is right you can see the flatheads swimming around and getting stirred up in the current, but as soon as it floods, or the Shad and Carp move in and run the banks the Flatheads disappear and I don’t catch shit no matter how hard I fish. In this eddy i fish there’s lots of rock ledges and undercuts that I study when the water is way low then i expect that the catfish like to lay in these and ambush the baitfish.
My theory is that there’s too many baitfish (Shad) to compete with and that the grass carp running the banks spawning are pressuring the flatheads off the banks.. I’m also considering that the flatheads are moving out to deeper water but i know they have to be around cause I literally slaughter them for a week or two and they turn off and are done.. The mass of shad running the banks along this dam is hard to believe and it’s like this every single year.. I’m addicted to this fishing cause once those big cats swim out in the current they feel 2x bigger than they actually are and tire themselves out 2x faster battling the current.
I usually fish a 8-12 foot rock ledge with a slip bobber and 10″ wire leader and a 6″ bluegill/bullhead/rockbass/ creek chub/ or whatever bait i can find. I set the slip bobber at about 4-6 feet deep and hook the bait in the tail and as soon as they hit the water they swim down into the rocks and the flathead nail them.. I’d love to hear any advice from you to improve my fishing success after the main bite is over.. I’ve fished this area for 14 years and get atleast a 25+  flat every year, but with limited fishing time due to work and river conditions I only get to have about 1 or 2 fishfry’s a year and would like to have a couple more.
Thanks Buckshot
My Response:
Hey There Buckshot,

You gave me a great problem to sort out. Thats what I love about fishing. Its a brain teaser. But let me make sure I have everything right. You have this window of 2-3 weeks from late May to early June where you are catching flathead catfish like crazy. But whenever the water gets high or low, you lose the fish until the water gets back to normal. And after this period, the fish completely vanish.

If I am off, please let me know. But let’s jump into figuring out this problem.

Let me start with the low water. I’m going take a guess that the water gets extremely clear during the low water period. The first thing that comes to mind is timing. When I have to fish clear water, I prefer to fish during the low light periods. You know, the times such as day break and sun set. When the daylight is low. Flathead catfish like to feed when they will be most productive and right before dark you can find catfish feeding in your area. They have an eye sight advantage over their prey and they are jumping out of the cover to ambush their prey.

But if you are already fishing during those low light times, you should move your efforts out deeper. Look for deeper cover or some type of structure. If the catfish are still in that area, they will move to deep structure during the low water. As the best feeding times come on, they will move out from that cover and search the best feeding areas. That could mean moving shallow. Moving to the from of the deep structure or father upstream to more cover. Cover is really key. Also try to time your fishing around current generation. You will severely up your chances of catching a flathead when you have current. The flow might be minimal but it will still improve the fishing by a lot.

The low water could also allow those flatheads to spread out and feed over a larger area, so you might need to bring a few extra rods to cover more of an area. If you still don’t contact those flatheads, I would move farther down river and look for deeper water. I understand you might be limited on the areas that you can fish because you are bank fishing. But they might of decided to run south for the summer. More on that later.

Quick Notes Version:
1. Fish during low light periods and current generation times
2. Fish Deeper
3. Increase Your Area of Fishing

Now for the high water. High water can be a relative term so I’d really have to know how much the water rises and how fast. If its a couple of feet change, I wouldn’t see a big problem or a major move by the catfish. But it sounds like your have a 5 feet or more increase over a short period of time. First off, you can expect a day or so for the catfish to reposition and get back to eating. When they  move, you can expect them to move out of the current and into shallow cover. If any of them actually stay out deeper, they tend to be hard to catch. Might be because they are inactive, or it might be because its hard to keep a bait in their face. When the river I fish gets up, the current is far to heavy to fish effectively.
Flatheads can be very hard to find during high water because they have so much new cover that they can move into. But given the options, I’d look for large eddies on inside bends of the river. Or an eddy caused by a large point that comes from the bank. Just looking at google map, I can see two areas that have potential to make a good eddy. Both on the left and right a few hundred feet below the dam.
The biggest point that I have to stress is big eddies in shallow water. Think points, river bends, creek mouths, or anything that will push the current away. Flatheads just can’t stand heavy current. If you can find bait and plenty of cover, you are bound to find a flathead in that area.
After this time period, you might be seeing a massive movement by your fish. You are problem fishing right at the seasonal pattern of post spawn into an early summer, maybe even moving into a summer pattern. Flathead catfish move up river to spawn and will typically stick around for a few weeks to feed and regain energy. After that point, they will move back downriver toward their summer haunts. There have been a number of radiometric studies on this movement. You should really take a few hours to read about this because its a very interesting read.
Most scientist believe that this is a natural reaction to the lower water levels that tend to happen in the summer time. The flathead catfish will move farther down river so that they don’t get trapped in shallow water and eventually run out of food. I personally don’t believe that the high numbers of shad is an issue. Mainly because flathead catfish will eat anything that they see as an easy meal. So your bait will still be the easiest meal available. The carp can be a nuisance and I’m not sure how they will effect the actual fishing. In my experience with carp, they love to stay in very shallow water during the middle of the day when there is no current. But since I focus my effort on the low light periods and when there is current flowing, they haven’t posed much of an issue to me. Your conditions may well be different. If you have your timing right and you feel like your presentations are good, then you might be fishing an area that the flatheads have moved from.
Do you have another area farther downriver that you can fish? A lot of catfishing, whether its blues, channels, or flatheads, is finding the fish. If you didn’t catch them in a certain location, its most likely less about what you are doing and more about the fish not being there. It sounds like you are technically sound and very capable of catching them. So I’d start to check out some new areas. New eddies, deep holes, creek mouths,etc. You’ll find them sooner or later. But once you have found them in a summer pattern, you will have a solid area for a few months.
I apologize for making this email so long. I wanted to make sure I covered all the bases to give you a few ideas to move you in the right direction. Keep experimenting and keep moving. If you keep trying, you’ll find them. Good Luck Buckshot.

Justin Mott

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Geez at the Rain

Alabama has been getting pounded by the rain recently. Literally, its been a two week period of on and off rain. That would be great if I could go fishing whenever I wanted. But I work during the week, like most people that read this blog. So the most of my fishing is during the weekends, and that has been when teh most of the rain has come. So what I am to do? It looks like I’ll just have to wait it out and spend the extra time working on my boat.

The rain actually worked out great for getting my motor put together. For a few people that have been reading the blog for a while, they know that I bought a project boat for $1000, my first boat actually. Its pretty exciting. The only problem is that for $1000, you really have a lot of work to do. Growing up, I have spend plenty of time working on my dad’s and granddad’s boats. So this isn’t a problem for me. Its just a matter of time until I can get back on the water.

We had a big rain not hit yesterday, otherwise I would have made a trip with my dad and granddad. Since we don’t get to fish for long hours with my granddad in the summer, we have to make some educated guesses about the location of the catfish. Basically we are looking at the conditions and saying that the fish should be doing this. Today, even though we didn’t get to go fishing, I will tell you my thought process of what I would have tried.

Let’s start by looking at the conditions that we were looking at.

  • High, Rising Water
  • Cloudy Skies
  • Early Summer Pattern
  • Muddy Water

There where plenty of factors that you could of taken notes of, but I like to focus only on the ones that i find most important. I don’t caught up with every factor that you can possibly find, such as temperature changes, lake type, etc. They may make a difference but those differences are minimal when compared to large factors. I like to find a few concrete factors that I can say “If this happens, then this must happen”. For example, If the water is high, I know the catfish should be shallow or moving shallow. That’s a very concrete statement, meaning that it will stay true 99% of the time. I want you to look for factors just like this.

You might even learn about a combination of factors. You might say, ” When situation A happens at the time as situation B, then the catfish will most likely do this”. Keep your mind open and think hard about what factors truly affect a catfish’s location. Or you can use this types of factors. Here are the factors that I look at.

  • Seasonal Pattern
  • Water Color
  • Water level ( High, Low, Rising, Falling)
  • Sky Conditions (Cloudy, Sunny, or in-between)
  • Current and/or Wind Conditions

That’s it! If you can figure out how these five affect a catfish’s location, then you are in the money. Or atleast you will be guessing correctly more often than you have been before. I won’t go through that today. But you can easily Google these.

Instead, I will tell you exactly what I was thinking when it came to this day. First off, I knew that the river has been high and running for atleast the past 4 days. That tells me right off the bat that the fish have moved out of the main channel current to the bank current. Mainly because the channel current is strong. But also because of the new food sources from the high water. Since we are in an early summer seasonal pattern and the water was muddy, that only reenforced my shallow water thought.

In the early summer, catfish can be just about everywhere. The water hasn’t gotten too hot to drive the catfish deep in the main river channel yet. So I can still find catfish in the shallower rivers and creeks. Why is this important. Well when the water gets high, catfish want to move to places of less current. The mouth of major creeks and rivers have big current breaks when the water gets high. Also, I will have two completely different concentrations of fish moving into these types of areas, creek catfish and river catfish.

This should double my odds. Now one more thing about the muddy water. Does it make a difference? Not really. Is clearer water better? Yes! Catfish will still feed in muddy water but if I can find clearer water I can find a more aggressive fish. So if I can find a creek that is pushing clearer water into the river, even better.

So what was I going to look for?

  • Look for shallow eddies with large schools of catfish
  • Intersections of creeks or rivers may be best locations
  • Clearer water may improve fishing quality

For one last note, all my guestimations are simply that, guesses. This is why I say “may” in my notes above. Be ready to throw those notes in the trash and change gears when you don’t find catfish. Catfish are wild animals and sometimes they don’t follow logic. Luckily, most of the time they do.

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