By Pat Carter
August and September are prime time months for catfishing. If I could only fish for catfish two months out of the year it would definitely be August and September. It’s my favorite time of year to fish for them, but I’ll go anytime.
When someone asks me for advice on catching catfish, I usually don’t tell them about a favorite bait or a favorite spot, I talk to them about “Patterns”. Patterns are more important if you ask me because catfish are not always in the same place and don’t always prefer the same bait. You always hear bass fishermen talk about patterns but you never hear catfishermen talk about them. Those bass guys know what they’re talking about. Patterns are just as important in consistently catching catfish as they are in catching bass.
There are many indicators that can give you hints on what pattern to follow. I wouldn’t etch anything in stone though, because there is only one thing about fishing that I know for sure and that is there’s nothing for sure. There have been many times that I have stumbled onto a pattern and not fully understand why catfish are in a particular area or prefer a particular bait. But if I’m catching catfish I’m going with it.
First find them. If water is high, you might want to try shallow. If water is low, you might want to try deep. Are they holding near structure? Are they holding near the drop offs? If so, on the top side of the drop off or bottom side. There are many other variables to finding them also. Weather, time of year, time of day, water temperature, dirty water, clean water, and many others.
Next, bait. Catfishermen have more of a challenge when comes to bait than those bass guys do. Bass fishermen can have a tackle box full of what ever lure they may need. Different colors, sizes, crank baits, spinner baits, rubber worms, jigs, tubes, you name it. They have it right there ready to go at a moments notice. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have good bait when catfishing. Catfishermen need to have a live bait or at least a bait that was once alive. There is stink bait but I have found that stink bait works well for smaller catfish but not so much for larger ones. There’s shad, shrimp, frogs, chubs, gold eye, and many more. All are good baits but none are a catch all, all the time bait. Alot of times bait shops won’t have a certain bait I’m after, so I’ll have to go catch it myself. I like to take with me at least 2 or 3 different types of bait.
I bet almost everyone that would call themselves a catfisherman, could tell you a story about how they went fishing and they were catching catfish left and right using a certain bait or fishing in certain spot but were unable to repeat it the next day. Usually that’s because conditions have changed. If conditions have changed then you should too.
Patterns can be hard to nail down. Patterns can change throughout the day too. There have been times I have been out catfishing, when I was unable to catch anything, so I tried fishing an area or tried a certain bait that normally I would think would never work and have it pay off. So if your out catfishing and your not having any luck, make an adjustment. Try a different type of area or try a different bait. Maybe it’s the size of the bait. Maybe there finicky and want a small bait or maybe the bait isn’t large enough. Establish a pattern and you’ll put more catfish in the boat. I guarantee it.
Posted in: Strategy