As a few of you might know, I’m getting married this month. May 25th actually! I’m very excited too. The guys wanted to throw me a deal for the wedding so they set something up that was right in line with my style. We did a camping trip at a place called Praire Creek. Needless to say, we planned to do a little fishing.
The reason why you need to bring your friends with you.
The night that we got out to the camp site, a large storm blew in. It rained none stop the whole night and just our lucky, the tent had a major leak in it… well all over it. We could of been swimming in that tent. We honestly didn’t sleep one minute that first night. Not to mention the storm brought a cold front in and caused the river to start a process of rising fast and then falling hard. The fishing was very tough.
But I’ve got some great friends and we had a great time. We might of been cold and wet the first night but we stayed up the whole night laughing. People probably thought we were insane. Even as the fishing was terrible, we were spending our time catching up with each other and coming up with ideas of where we might find a catfish big enough to eat our bait. We all know that fishing after a cold front can be tough, but bringing a good friend fishing will take those worried away.
So where did we go wrong?
I like to be honest with y’all about how I catch catfish and even how I don’t catch them. That is half of why I’m making this article. The first half is to remind y’all to bring a friend fishing if you aren’t already. The second half is to teach y’all as much as possible about catching catfish. So first let’s start with what I believe that we did right:
- We used a variety of baits. We tried cut bait to start with and then moved to live bait as the day went on. We tried large and small livebait which should of done the trick but that’s fishing.
- We moved regularly. If you have read my other articles, I believe in moving if the catfish aren’t biting. We were on foot so we didn’t move miles but we continued to check areas. Cold fronts naturally make catfish less aggressive so we slowed down and let our bait sit for twenty minutes at a time but after a few casts, we’d move to a new location.
- We stayed patient. Which might of been what we did most right. You only lose when you quit.
- We fished near cover. Every time we moved to a new area, I would cast my sinker out and feel for any cover in that area. Once we found the cover, we’d cast near it. We lost a few rigs but that only means that we were fishing where the fish are.
So where did we go wrong. Now honestly I’m just taking a shot at what that might of been because you can’t really know. But hindsight is 20/20 and you can always think of some ways to improve. Here is what we will make sure to do different next time:
- Bring a boat. We didn’t bring the boat this trip because there were so many of us and the wind was going to be bad. With a boat, we could of moved to a different area of the river where the catfish might of been more active or have more catfish.
- Move out of the Park. This park probably has more fishing pressure than I realized. I believe that in order to beat the pressure you have to either out smart the crowd or move away from it. We tried to out smart the crowd by fishing closer to cover. Since that failed, the next best move must of been to move away from it…back to needing to bring the boat again.
- Or Out Work the Crowd. We stuck with the areas that were easier to cast at. Maybe we should of brought a cutting tool and cleaned us some areas to fish at. Most people won’t go through the trouble of making their own fishing area. I found a few large trees that were blocked by a row of small trees on the shoreline. We could of cleared those trees and fished a fresh area.
- Fish Deeper Cover. Okay this is harder to do when you are fishing from the bank, but catfish are less affected by cold fronts when they are deeper. We should of did a little more research of the area and found some deeper areas. A deep tree in a creek channel or a jetty might of held a large school of catfish. You only have to get one to bite to get the school started.
Well that’s my honest assessment of the weekend. I had a great time and learned a lot. Its this type of trips that really remind you how great catfishing is. You can’t always catch them like you want to. Its called fishing and not catching for a reason. But its still great to be on the lake with your friends. Maybe you too were also able to learn something from my catfishing trip. If you want to learn more about catfishing, you can sign up for the Catfish Today newsletter. Thank you for reading and good luck on your next trip.
This is just a friendly reminder that if you aren’t fishing early, you might be missing some easy fishing. Early morning is the one of the most consistent times to go fishing that there will be. Most of the baitfish have come out from hiding for the night but are still vulnerable to predators in the low light. Catfish sense this movement and take advantage of it.
Let me go into a little more detail on how baitfish move from sunset to daybreak. Baitfish understand when they are easiest to prey on. Thus they will try to hide when they get in these situations. During the day, baitfish can see well and aren’t as worried about a catfish, bass or stripes eating them. As the sun begins to set, shad and bream can’t see as well and have to move into cover to hide from predators attacking them in the dark. Remember that catfish can see much better than shad or bream when there isn’t much light out.
As the night moves on, most baitfish will stay in the cover. But as the sun begins to rise, these same baitfish will become active and begin to move out to open water for the day. During this time, the baitfish are very active. The water temperature is warming. The baitfish are hungry and looking for algae. And the light is still low. So catfish have the feeding advantage. Basically the baitfish don’t know what they are swimming into.
We get to take advantage of this by fishing early and actively moving around. I’m convinced that catfish are not patient about eating in the morning. They know that if they don’t eat now when its easy, then they might not get an easy meal for the rest of the day. So if we take this into account, I feel confident that if I put a bait in the fish’s face, he will eat it. And not take long to do that. So this means that if I’m not getting a bite in an small area or on a specific piece of cover, I will move to another one within ten minutes. If you can keep moving, you will find the mother load of catfish.
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Drifting is one of my favorite techniques that I use for catfishing. Its incredible simple to do and just as effective. You don’t need a PhD to drift fish but some people will think you’re the smartest fisherman on the lake when you can bring back schools of catfish. Today I will go over the basics of drift fishing so that anyone that is new to the concept will know exactly how to use it effectively.
What is Drift fishing?
Drift fishing is s technique where you use the wind or river current to push you down a river or across structures. What makes drift fishing so special is that you don’t need a fancy $40,000 boat in order to make it work. I’ve seen guys in Kayaks and Canoes catch catfish by drift fishing. The basic concept is for you to get upriver or up wind of the area that you want to fish. This way you can drop your bait down and allow it to drift through the area as though it is just being washed along by the current. This technique looks very natural to catfish.
How do I make this Technique most Efficient?
The best thing that you can do when drift fishing, is to use multiple rods. I like to use fish rods in my boat that are spaced 5 feet apart. This creates an area of 25 feet that I am fishing as a pass over the structures below. If you can’t use 5 rods, use as many as you can handle safely. If you can only handle one, that’s okay. You’ll still catch fish. I’ve seen guys using 7 rods before and cover a 35 foot line. Its very impressive
The reason why I suggest multiple rods is because catfish like to school. Especially in rivers, catfish will group up when the current is moving. You will drift through an area and hit the school, which causes you to catch 3-5 catfish at one time. You will also benefit from multiple rods are days when catfish are scattered and hard to find. Since you are covering a larger areas, you are more likely to come across an active catfish.
What Kind of Bait should I Use?
I’m a huge fan of shad, whether its cut or whole. In my neck of the woods, shad is the number one food item on the menu. Catfish have grown used to feeding on shad so much that they won’t even think twice about taking a quick bite as the bait drifts by. If shad is not in your lake, just ask yourself what would my catfish most likely feed on? Once you figure what out, all you have to do it find that bait and go fishing.
Are Some Times Better than Others to Drift Fish?
Yes, without a doubt, some days are great fishing days while others are horrible days to drift fish. I consider drift fishing as my searching technique to catching catfish. I also consider it a technique that I’ll use when catfish are actively feeding. These active days typically happen when:
- You have Low Light Conditions (early morning, cloudy days, storms, and sun set)
- The wind is blowing ( wind creates a low light penetration which gives catfish a sight advantage)
- The river current is flowing (this brings food naturally to catfish and causes them to burn more energy)
- Conditions are stable ( consistent weather means consistent fishing)
- and when baitfish are active
So these are the best times to use the drifting technique. As you might imagine, the worst times to drift fish is during the opposite times as these listed. You come up to the river and there is not wind and no current, you might not want to drift fish that day. If you don’t see any baitfish moving and the sun is high and shining, you might not want to drift fish that day. And also if the weather just had a major cold front push in, you definitely don’t want to be drift fishing that day.
I hope that this article has given you an idea of how you can take advantage of the drift fishing technique. It is one that is extremely simple to use but very effective. Good Luck and Thank you for reading
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Everyone knows that many fish are released from boat ramps every year. Bass and crappie tournaments are held at major boats ramps and marinas nearly all year long. In doesn’t take much imagination to see that these areas end up being loaded with these types of fish. Since most bodies of water don’t have major catfish tournaments, we don’t think of these places as being catfish hot spots. But let’s think of it like this, the areas are loaded with the perfect sized food for big catfish.
Most crappie tournaments and bass tournaments see fish released between the sizes of 1/2 lb to 3 lbs. A big catfish wouldn’t think twice about downing a meal like this. Throw in the fact that most of these fish are weary from being in a livewell for a long time and you could potentially have a situation where catfish have learned that there are easy meals just waiting for them at these landings. Let’s also add that most landings have plenty of boat docks, possibly grass, and cedar trees. The landing now becomes a location that will hod fish year round even without tournaments being held.
Now we do have one problem to work around. Fishing Pressure!! Most marinas are loaded with shore fishermen that are just looking to relax and maybe catch a few small catfish. Okay some do catch big catfish but those are generally doing something a little different. Here are 5 tips that will help you catch those catfish by the landings.
Tip #1: Fishing with livebait at all times. I bet at your landing, most of the fishermen are using some form of paste, livers, worms, or dead shad. Any catfish that hasn’t been caught by these baits is now extra wary of them. By fishing a live 3″ bream, you are much more likely to convince a big catfish that your bait isn’t a trick than with baits that they see regularly. If you follow the crowd, you catch what the crowd catches.
Tip #2: Fish Early in the Morning. Day break is a magical time of the day. Most of the baitfish and predatory fish are active and feeding hard. Most of the fishermen are still at the house and sleeping well. This means that you have a chance to catch catfish all to yourself during one of their most active times. Got to love that.
Tip#3: Find the Cover. Most other catfishermen will drive up to a spot and just cast out with no thought of whats out there. If you take an extra minute to fan cast a sinker with no hook around and by dragging the bottom, you will find cover that others missed. This gives you the advantage everything because now you have your bait in a high percentage area.
Tip #4: Fish the End of the Boat Ramps. Most people might not know this but the ends of the boats ramps normally have a hole. This hole is caused by the boat motors being put in forward and reverse to load and unload a boat. Catfish will actually sit in this hole to feed when boat traffic calms down. I’ve even heard of people talking about catfish moving back into those holes in less than a minute after a boat pulls out.
Tip#5: Bring a Rod Holder and a Seat. Its pretty obvious to anyone that has fished from the shore before but there might be a few people new to bank fishing or even catfishing, and I don’t want you to get out there and suffer for not knowing. Bank fishing is a patience game for alot of people. Sometimes the legs get tired or you might not want to hold a rod all day. A fold out seat and a rod holder than you can stab into the ground go a long ways. Catfishing is so much better when you are comfortable as you catch fish after fish.
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When I first got serious about catfishing, I was making an adjustment from bass fishing. I was in search of similarities that would help me catch catfish faster. I’m sure we’ve all tried to do the same thing with other fish. After reading tons of articles and a few books, I realized that catfish and bass have plenty in common. The only difference that I would say that is a huge difference is depths. But one thing that I noticed real quick is that both fish relate to structure or bottom contours. Very quickly I learned that catfish will use some of these structures exactly the same as bass. One of these structures is a ditch. Ditches are tunnels or deeper trails within an area.
Ditches tend to happen in areas that used to be creeks, streams, or run off trails before a lake was impounded. These ditches act as great fish attractors because fish use them as highways from deep water to shallow and vice verse. Why would a catfish use a ditch to travel. Well think of where catfish are at in the winter. They are typically in deep water around vertical structures such as creek channels and ledges. When the spring comes, catfish are first thinking about food and then spawning. While catfish may still feed in deep water, they will need to move shallow to spawn. A catfish can follow the creek channel to where it meets a ditch and then follow the ditch to a shallow flat.
The catfish that do follow these ditches are much easier to catch because they will stop at predictable areas. When the school or catfish that is moving on this ditch gets hungry, they will need to stop to ambush prey. They will choose the best locations to do this. Those locations will be in either a turn in the ditch, on cover along the ditch, or at an intersection of another type of structure with the ditch. If you look for the unusual along a ditch, you will find places that catfish will stop to feed.
Before I leave for the day, I’ll give you a good example. Let’s say that you have a ditch in 15′ of water that is moving toward a shallow spawning location. As you use a controlled drift along the ditch edges, you notice that the ditch is very straight. No turns or changes. It also has very little cover. That can happen a lot. But then you run across a laydown tree right in the ditch. You can count that area as a lock to hold catfish. Then 100 yards later, you find a small ditch that meets the ditch that you are fishing. This is another area that I expect to hold a few catfish. I’d be really excited if both of these ditches are large.
I would just know that I’m about to catch a boat load of catfish. And I hope that you find that chance to do the same thing. If you fish in an area where ditches are prevalent, you just might be in for a great year of fishing.
Catfishing can be a great experience. You get the chance to learn about the movements of catfish, the joy of catching a fish of a lifetime, and a way to spend memorable time with family and friends. There is not a better way to live your life. Every year we run across a period of time where the fish that came so easy just weeks before seem vanish. Its not a magic trick or that you are no good at catfishing, its just that time of year. That time when love is in the air and there is nothing that is gonna stop it. Its spawning time!
This time of year can confuse most fishermen. The catfish are anything just easy to catch. They are focused in one thing and that is spawning. This period of time can range from March to June depending on where you live at. In the southern ranges of the states, catfish start spawning in March and the period peaks in April. In northern areas, catfish can spawn as late as June. The timing of this spawn is very dependent on steady water levels and warming water temperatures. When the water temperature reaches 70 degrees, you can expect the majority of catfish in your area to start spawning. Today’s article is gonna give you 5 tips to help you catch more catfish during the spawn.
Tip #1: Fish Near Heavy, Shallow Cover
Catfish will spawn near thick cover when ever available. Why? because catfish can more easily guard their nest from bream and baitfish that will try to eat their eggs. Think of a bank. A bank has a whole lot of money that robbers want to steal and you are the only person that can guard the bank. Now imagine that the bank had 5 doors that lead straight to the vault. Thats a lot of doors that you’d have to guard and a lot of ways that those robbers can sneak in. But what if the bank only had one door. One way in and out. That would make it a lot easier to guard the vault right? Well catfish are looking for the same type of place. They want the cover to be as heavy as possible area them so that the egg robbers don’t steal all of the eggs.
These places can very alot. No specific type of cover is better than another but you want a few elements to make them better. First off, you want large pieces of cover. You want something that a catfish can back into. That way there are less places for bream to steal eggs from. Stumps, laydowns, and rocks can all do this. Thick shallow grass also works. Be ready to try a number of different types of cover but focus your efforts around the best in that area.
The next key element will be depth. You need the cover to be in 5 foot or less of water. Catfish need the sunlight to warm the shallow water so that the eggs can…well…grow. Since only shallow water offers this type of warmth, you should focus your efforts on strictly shallow cover.
Tip #2: Use Many Rods and Be Patient
Its nothing unusual for catfishermen to use multiple rods and to fish slowly but the spawn can take that to another level. Spawning catfish need to be enticed into biting. Add this to the fact that in many bodies of water, we can’t see them on bed. This means that the fishing can be tough. You really need to use as many rods as you can stand and leave your lines in the water for 20 minutes at a time. I would say that the average guy can use 3 rods very comfortably. If you can handle 5 rods at one time, then I say go for it. Cast each rod as close to a target piece of cover as possible. Each cast should be at a different piece of cover. This insures that as many catfish as possible see your bait in a days time. After twenty minutes you should move to the next best piece of cover and repeat the process. Slow and Steady wins the race.
Tip#3: Use a Shorter Leader on Your Carolina Rig
Live bait is a must during the spawn. I say this because you want the catfish to think that your bait ( choose a small bream) is trying to get to their eggs. In this situation, you need a short leader on your carolina rig. One so that your bait won’t get hung up in cover as often. Two so that the bait can’t get out of the area that the catfish is in.
At first a catfish will try to push the bait away from its bed with its tail. Then if its not gone, they will put the ole jaws on it and crush it. Then they will move it off the bed or swallow it. You want your bait on a short leader so that it can’t be run or pushed away from the bed. Also so that you know when the catfish tries to move it off the bed. You might only have a few feet before she spits the bait out. Be ready.
Tip#4: Avoid the Spawn All Together
Yes you can not even fish the spawn. While the spawn is occurring, you can target pre-spawn and post spawn catfish. Admittedly there won’t be as many catfish in these areas, but they will be much more willing to bite. If you have a large number of catfish in your area, you might not even notice that most of the catfishing are spawning.
My favorite way to avoid the spawn is by fishing an area of your lake or river that is not spawning. Here’s what i mean. Catfish in the shallower up river section of the lake will spawn first. Shortly after that the mid lake section will move in to spawn. And that will be followed by the down river section. If you fish the down river section while the up river section is spawning, you will find plenty of biting pre-spawn catfish. While the down river section is biting, you will find the upriver catfish in a post-spawn/summer pattern. Either way, you can avoid spawning catfish all together.
The catfish spawn can be tough, but you don’t have to let it be. Put the odds in your favor. If you follow these tips, you will find that catching catfish during the spawn is a lot easier than other catfishermen are making it out to be. Good Luck
I remember setting up jugs in a pond a number of years back. We had this idea that if jugging would work in a river, why wouldn’t it work in a pond. To our surprise, we really nailed them. We figured that we’d catch a few small catfish since the pond was stocked a few years back with some blue catfish. But to our pleasant surprise, we found big catfish in that pond. 10 pounders in only a few years worth of growing. That day we learned that catfish can grow extremely well in ponds. Maybe just as good in ponds as they do in rivers.At that point, we were dedicated to figuring out how catfish use ponds. It didn’t take long to figure this question out. Today’s article will help you find those catfish and consistently catch them.
Where are They Hiding?
Catfish have been known to completely fill a pond up. People have electro shocked their ponds and found a population of catfish that could feed you for a year. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t find a peaking order. Small catfish get the bad locations while large catfish take the best holes. Whether you have a healthy population or are over stocked, this will always hold true. Finding the best locations is all about uniqueness. Do you have something in your pond that stands out as completely different?
Have you ever noticed how much someone with pink hair stands out in a crowd? Well a catfish would post up beside that person if that person was in the water. Some more realistic examples would be different types of cover. Imagine if you have a pond that is full of grass. Its pretty hard to find where the catfish are holding in a grass lake. But it you find a stump or tree in all this grass, you find a place that will hold more catfish. Imagine a bank with nothing on it. Now throw in any piece of cover. That piece of cover will hold fish. The key is that it must be unique to the area.
Any number of things can make an area unique. You might have point in an area that is very straight. You might have a deep hole in a flat area. You might find that a few stumps that hold fish are bigger than the rest of the stumps. You might find that a ledge is holding fish in an area with a bunch of points. Or you might find that one of the points that is holding fish, extends closer to deeper water. Anything that make an area unique, but you have to figure out what is it. Changes concentrate fish. If you can find something unique that is holding fish, then you can side similar areas that will give you a pattern to follow. A pattern is a established when you find fish holding in similar locations throughout a lake, pond, or river.
One of my personal favorite types of unique locations is a big laydown in a stump field. Most of the times, you find that ponds are old flooded fields or valleys. Sometimes the creator of the pond will let a timber crew cut the area before the pond is built. This means that a stump field is sure to happen. But finding catfish in these fields can be hit or miss. Add a laydown tree and I promise you that it will consistently hold fish. Think about it.
But what about a Dug Pond? I understand that most of these types of ponds don’t have cover. and that’s okay. Because unique areas don’t have to be cover. They can be changes in the bottom or structures. If you are fishing a dug pond, here is a place that almost always holds catfish. The corners of your pond. Typically catfish will sit in the middle of the pond while they are inactive. When they turn active, they will travel to shallower water and start doing a lap around the pond. They will swim until they have to change directions or swim around something. Call them lazy but turning left or right will make them stop for a few minutes to rest. At this point you can find that those corners of the pond that are created by dams will hold the fish. Some might even use those corner to travel up and down from shallow to deep water. All I’m concerned about it that they are there and that I can catch them.
I’m sure this has given you a few idea on how to catch your pond catfish. Let me know what you think and what ideas come to mind when you think about finding pond catfish.
We’ve all been through it. Those days where catching a fish is nearly impossible. These days always come when we least expect them, but they still happen. Today I’ll be talking about a little talked about topic. What do you do when fishing is completely horrible? How do you salvage a bad day? Not from the catching fish perspective but from the just enjoying the day side of things. Most blogs and magazine will tell you that you need to slow down and fishing smaller bait, and do this and do that. Let me be the first to tell you a little known secret that you might not like to hear. Sometimes catfish are just not interested in feeding. There is no reason to torture yourself over the lack of fish that are eating. Here is a list of things that you can do to make this time on the water a good memory. “Remember that Time that We Didn’t Catch Anything But We had a Great Time….”
Number 1: Bring a Friend!
A Spouse, Kids, Best Friend, or Complete Stranger! Okay maybe not the complete stranger but bring someone with you. Find someone that you haven’t seen in a long time and spend the whole time catching up. This is a great time to play catch up with friends. Or get the wife out of the house. Women love the water. Make a trade with her. Half a day on the beach and half a day fishing. I do this all the time with my Fiance and it works great.
Number 2: Bring a Radio!
Its something about music that really makes things pleasant. Yep if the fishing sucks, music is the one thing that can keep your mind off of how bad things really are. Just make sure that you and your fishing partner like the same music.
Number 3: Bring Skiis or go for a Swim!
In the summer, things can get hot. When the catfish aren’t biting, you’ll know it. The sun will have you beaten and ready to give in. A quick dip in the water or thirty minutes worth of playing is all it takes to get your head back in the game… or at least enjoying the day again. When the weather gets right, I’m all for taking a swim even when the fish are biting.
Number 4: What Fish are we Trying to Catch Again?
Its time for a change. A change to something easier. Sometimes when I’m playing a Video Game, I’ll beat a few of the easier levels just to get a feel for what I’m doing. In fishing, sometimes you need to catch a few to catch a few more. If the catfish aren’t biting, it might be time to do some bream fishing. These little guys are always biting so you can almost bet on catching a dozen of these guys on a bad day. After you catch a few of these guys, you might find that the action for the catfish has picked back up….or if you are fishing with kids, you might want to stay with the bream. You’re call.
Number 5: Check out the Local Wild Life!
Or as my fiance says, ” Look for Gators”. You can see what you can find near the water. Some places are full of gators. Others have tons of deer. Some places have a wild amount of fish near the surface. I personally enjoy watching the squirrels race around trees near the water. My nieces enjoy watching spoonbill leap out of the water. If you can figure out where the wildlife is in your area, you will always know where the entertainment is.
Ok guys, Its your turn to add to this article. What other things can you do in order to salvage a bad day of fishing? Can you think of anything that most or even a few people can do to enjoy themselves? Thanks for contributing and good luck catfishing.
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