Catfishing the Rivers in Alabama

How has everyone been doing? It looks like today is going to be another rainy day down here in the south. I’m from Alabama and we tend to have this type of rainy weather every winter. Its nothing new for this time of year but it gives me some extra time to catch up on some much needed blogging. I want to take this time and tell you about my home state and it’s fishing.

Alabama has some of the best fishing for nearly any type of fish that you’d like to target. With all its lakes and river, you can catch large bass, bream, crappie, and Yes Catfish. The Alabama State Record Catfish are as follows: Flathead Catfish – 80lbs, Channel Catfish – 40lbs, and Blue Catfish – 120lbs 4 ozs. Those are some pretty impressive numbers by any standards. I personally feel that the state record can be broken at any moment. From my experience, very few people target catfish in my area. Even fewer have a system in place that puts them in prime areas for large catfish. Great for me when it comes to fishing success but I want to raise the awareness of anglers and get more fishermen into catfishing.

River Options

In just my area, I have access to the Alabama, Cahaba, and Coosa Rivers. As I’m sure many of yall already know, catfish love rivers. I am also from the City of Selma, where the State Record Flathead Catfish was caught. When it comes to river systems, you have all the options that you could look for. The Coosa River offers shallow rocky water with plenty of current and clear water. The Cahaba is stained and shallow. It has plenty of timber and channel bends. You might call this river a flathead catfish paradise. The Alabama River has shallow backwaters, deep river sections, timber and limestone banks, and plenty of ledges.

This is just in my central Alabama area. You can also fish the Black Warrior River, Tennessee River, and Chattahoochee River, not to mention some of the smaller rivers and creeks that hold catfish. Alabama gives you plenty of river type options. Now I guess the question is how do you catch those catfish.

In Alabama, catfishing works the same as it does in other areas of the country. You need to have a little depth and a little cover. If you area fishing the smaller creeks and river, you will need to find deep holes. Those deep holes will hold catfish year round. The very best holes will be those with the most depth and cover. The best sections are typically the ones with many turns in the river. This creates more deep water and catches more cover.

When you are fishing deeper rivers such as the Alabama River, you need to find structure and cover that will block the current. I love to fish Ledges and Jetties. These areas are typically big and will hold more catfish.

I’m very used to catching 20- 30 catfish in just a few hours when the current is rolling. A typically fishing day for me looks like this. I launch the boat around 3 pm. I’ll throw a cast net for 10 – 30 minutes depending on how many shad are up. If the shad aren’t up, I’ll go bream fishing for bait. I then drive to my first fishing hole that is just a few hundred feet from the marina. This area is simple a series of jetties that holds schools or 3-10 pounds catfish. After a few drifts over that area, I normally have caught around 10 fish.

When it comes to baiting and rigging, I’ll place three small shad or a good sized cut bait a carolina rig that is suspended  a foot to 5 feet open the bottom. I like to use 5 rods at a time and in my area its not uncommon to hook two fish at once. Its definitely not unheard of to have all five rods get bitten at one time.

After that I’ll use this same drifting strategy in other areas. I’ll target current seams, creek mouths, and outside edges of deep log jams. This strategy allows you to catch schools of 3-10 pound catfish. For big catfish, I’ll wait for the night to come. My favorite area is a creek mouth that holds flathead catfish. The creek mouth has a large stump field that holds the catfish in the day and the flatheads spread out around the flat on the mouth at night. This is one of those classic areas that are available in any river or creek in Alabama.

Remember that Flathead Catfish love deep water and Timber. The more timber that you have in the 9-15′ area, the better the fishing will be. You just have the wait them out. If you haven’t had a chance to visit Alabama and see some of this catfishing that I’m talking about, you have to. Its unbeatable.