Sometimes we just try too hard at things and make it more difficult than it really needs to be. Catfishing is a perfect example.
Taken to the extreme, you can make extreme catches, which is certainly great to do at times. But when the weather is hot, as we’re now in the heat of summer, you can simplify things and still make really good catfish catches.
There are many great fishing opportunities on lakes Marion and Moultrie during the hot weather. But one of my favorites is catfishing and there are both easy and difficult ways to go about it.
I don’t mean difficult in the sense that it’s bad. If you want to work, there are excellent opportunities for taking big catfish, even right now in the heat of the summer. However, if you want to just enjoy the day, catch a bunch of fish numbers wise, you can go about it differently.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get out and catch a mess of good-eatin’ size catfish on Lake Marion right now. We have a lot of catfish and often the channel catfish is overlooked, but they are often easy to catch in the 1-5 pound class. On light tackle, that’s a ton of fun. Plus, blues in the same size class are frequently caught with the channel cats.
One of the best methods I’ve found in recent years for the “take it easy” method of catfishing is to use a stink bait to work on the sense of smell possessed by catfish. There are a number of stink baits on the market; my personal preference is Doc’s Catfish Getter Dip Bait. It simply works. Catfish are famous – or infamous – for their ability to smell and be attracted to foul odors and the fact is, a gob of smelly goo can be excellent bait for both the channel and blue catfish.
There are drops and ledges all over the lake that produce well and you can find plenty with your depth finder or graph. Some of the ones that seem to produce best for me are the sand or gravel areas that drop quickly into deep water. This can be especially true if there are some mussel beds around during this time of the year. The water doesn’t have to be deep where you catch the fish, but it’s a good idea to have a drop that goes from shallow water down to at least 20-25 feet deep. That’s especially true if you’re fishing during the middle of a late-June or July day. At night, or early and late in the day, you’re much more likely to find some fish scattered in the shallows, but I’d still stick near the edge of the drop, close to that deepwater access.
For example, one area that’s produced excellent results for years is a shallow flat that slowly drops down to about 5-6 feet deep out about 30-40 yards from the shoreline and then holds that depth for about 30 feet then drops sharply down to about 28 feet of water. Anchor the boat right on the edge of the drop and make sure the boat is secure so it won’t blow around much if the wind gets up. Then I use Driftmaster rod holders to secure my rods and I fan cast my lines all around the boat, putting the rods in the holders and watching for a fish to strike. If it’s early in the day, I get several lines toward the shallow water area, hoping to find some actively feeding fish. But I’ll always cast a couple along the ledge and then some into the deeper water.
Many times the action will begin in the shallows, even in this hot-weather time of the year. But then as the sun gets higher, I’ve noticed more bites will begin to occur along the edge of the drop and then finally almost all of the action will be in the deepwater areas once the sun is high in the sky. It doesn’t always happen this way, but it’s happened that way quite a few times in the past. Cloudy days can keep catfish shallow most of the morning.
One of the reasons this type of fishing is “easy” is that fishermen don’t have to move around as much. Usually moving and hunting the fish down is a good technique, but when fishing like this, the fish are attracted to the strong odor and come to you. The heat drains a fisherman enough, so it’s not a problem to relax a bit in this weather.
Usually, if the action isn’t pretty good within 30-40 minutes, I will reel in the rods and move to another spot. Typically, you won’t have to move more than a couple times before you hit a good bunch of fish and catch all you’re going to want to clean.
While lakes Marion and Moultrie are well known for their big catfish producing potential, there are scads of fish in the 2-10 pound class that are often overlooked by fishermen.
This summer take a break from the heat and the hard work and just enjoy some catfish catching. Take a kid fishing and enjoy the day. The fishing is good, it’s easy and these catfish make excellent table fare.