Bluecat Catfishing Information

I've got a tooth ache that's evolved into an ear ache and I've got nothing better to do than to yammer on about something. A young feller emailed me a few days ago and allowed as to how he wanted to see me post more on the bps site also cause he's into catfishing so, this one's for you, Myles.

I wrote a book some years back about catfishing that was titled "luck's got nothing to do with it. Catfishing by Tiny" The book never got published. But, the title is what I wanted to start with. Most folks all wish you well when you're headed out to go fishing and the most common thing for them to say is "good luck" well, this statement always makes me smile since I wrote the book but I just say thanks and go on my way but there is a lot to the title of that book that I try to get across to people when I'm writing the articles for my web site and stuff and it's not that luck doesn't play a part in fishing but anything you can do to reduce your dependence on luck then you're that much further ahead. Now just going out to a spot that's easy to get to and knocking down a few cold ones is a great way to spend a relaxing weekend but it's not really the best way to approach catfishing. A lot of people think they can go to a nice hole somewhere and they know there's fish there ... they just have to figure out what they're biting on and this is never the case.

If you throw a fresh cut shad heads out in a spot and it's off bottom a few inches and a fish hasn't hit any of your poles in 30 minutes then there aren't any fish there. Path type areas like rivers you might have to sit and wait for the fish to come through but at a lake you have to find the fish.

I'm a guide as most of you know and I guide on a very high pressure lake where there's 100 hook snag lines about every 200 yds, Juglines so thick sometimes you could almost walk across the dad burned thing (not really but I'm just trying to say there's a lot of juglines) any limb overhanging the water will almost always have a line on it so my point here is, it's a tough area to fish and to increase the difficulty level I offer a 50 lb minimum guarantee and since I've started offering that guarantee I've had 17 trips this spring I think and didn't get paid on only 3 of them with the average take per day being somewhere around 70 lbs per trip. The point I'm trying to get across here is that you can't fish like this by just going out and sitting in one spot and think that the fish are always there and you just need to figure out what they're biting on and my bait arsenal consists of usually two things ... cut bait from live shad or live bluegill and sometimes If I catch a carp or buffalo I'll also use cut bait from those as well as the carp, buffalo and bluegill are bigger fish baits. Fresh cut shad is like catfish candy ... they can't resist it and if there's a fish in the area they'll hit it like a kid on a Hershey chocolate bar. I'm not kidding or embellishing that either.

I sight fish sometimes in the shallows and will ease through 2 ft of water watching for swirls made by catfish and have a pole ready and won't even anchor when I see one and I'll lob that dude out there within a foot or two of where I seen the swirl and won't even have time to set the pole down or anything before the fish takes off with the fresh cut shad head. I'm overstressing the point of the bait so that I get the point across ... if you're using fresh cut shad and you're not catching anything then there's nothing there.

Now what I look for when I first get out on the lake is feeding seagulls as that's the best fish finder ever put on this earth. when gulls are feeding heavy in an area that usually means there's fish feeding below them and disrupting the shad's swimming pattern making it easier for the birds to see the shad. when fish are feeding on shad they'll be swimming sideways and real erratic and exposing their sides to the birds above and a lot of times it's white bass or striper that are the main feeders but on the down current or downwind side of the feeding birds there's usually bluecat on the downwind side or on the side in the direction of the current flow ... like if the current is headed south then the bluecats will mostly be on the south side of the feeding birds ... if it's bluecat causing the shad to swim erratically for the birds then it don't matter much where you are ... you can get right up in the middle of the feeding birds if that's the case and catch the snot outta the fish.

when there's not any birds I start looking for current eddys just off points or slow current going across freshly flooded plains or look for fish activity on the windblown shore of some shallows. I focus a lot on shallow water fishing because when the fish are in the shallows they're feeding ... I'm talking bout sometimes less than 1 ft of water also ... It seems like the catfish can catch shad a lot easier in the shallows. I can't tell you how many times my clients have said "I can't believe these fish are in water this shallow" so when they're in the shallows they're feeding heavily.

Reducing the luck factor was my original topic that I started off with so I'll go back to that ... there's several things you can do to "reduce the luck factor" sharpen your hooks so that they're sharp enough to dig into your thumbnail at any angle with just the weight of the hook and they're sharp enough ... once isn't enough for this ... you need to check the hooks every time you reel in and get ready to bait up ... make that a habit ... run that hook over your thumbnail and if it doesn't bite into the nail then sharpen it every time you bait up ... if you make it a habit you'll be a lot better off ... of course you can catch fish with dull hooks or hooks right out of the package and think it's not necessary to be this meticulous and that's your right to be lazy like that if you want. hahaha ... that was blunt wasn't it ... well I'm trying to get points across here and not wanting to waste my time and your's by telling you something that just gets disregarded as unnecessary or you feel it's not that important ... it's important enough for me to write on and on about it so it is important enough to you to take the time to make sure the hooks are sharp ... you'll miss a lot less fish if you'll do this. also if you're using kahles or some other type hook other than circle hooks then they need an offset as well ... you can see how to offset a hook at this link http://www.catfishin.net/bent.html.

If you don't sharpen your hooks and check your line and terminal gear for nicks or abrasions on each cast of the rod then tiny gonna call you a doughbaiter by gawlly. yeah, you heard me hehehe.

Take the time to make something or buy something that'll keep your shad alive until you're ready to put them to the knife. I can't stress the importance of this enough either ... iced down shad is okay for a couple of hours but after that you'll see the bite slacking off ... once bait's been dead for 1 hour and 15 minutes then it's no good any longer for rod and reel fishing ... if you use shad that's been dead for 2 hours then tiny's calling you a doughbaiter again. I know a lot of you won't want to go through the trouble to keep the bait alive but I'm trying to get you to keep them alive until they're cut ... change your bait at least every 30 minutes also and cast to a different spot unless you're on a good piece of structure. I know that certain circumstances cause folks to not be able to carry around a big ole bait tank like my friend john mentioned about people with small bass boats and stuff that just don't have the room for a large bait tank ... well iced down shad works about 2 hours as good as fresh livecut .. I think I'll start calling it that also ... fresh cut bait from live shad I'll start referring to from now on as "LiveCut" that'll save me some typing. Anyhow, if you're faced with this situation that you don't have the room for a bait tank then you should make a bait run about every two hours and change out all the bait every two hours. that is, if it's possible for you to do that. I'd conducted lots of side by side tests on livecut vs iced down shad and also dead shad. just remember that 1.25 hours for dead shad and it's lost it's goody and 2 hours for iced down shad. "That's all I have to say about that!" Forest Gump.

Speaking of Forest Gump ... that name is also a euphemism of sorts ... you can't just forest gump your way through catfishing all the time .. you can sometimes and I tell people to stay away from alternative baits such as chicken livers, dough baits and whatever else for a reason other than the fiddler factor "little bait thieves". I've probably already mentioned it but here's the reason again if I have ... I know i've written this on my tips section in several spots but here it is again ... if you use alternative baits then you're reducing your learning factor by about 10 fold ... thinking that the fish are there ... you just have to figure out what they're biting on ... if the fish are there then they'll bite on livecut almost instantly. there's no two ways about that ... what happens is people sit in one spot for sometimes two days and they've let their bait get rotten and probably the most recent thing they've put on their hook is some dough ball or wiener or some stupid something like fecal doughball laced with wd40 and they catch one fish on that for the whole weekend and say ... yeah ... that's some good stuff ... I caught a fish on that fecal dough ball when I couldn't catch anything on anything else I tried so it's some good stuff ... you should try it. well, you need to get away from that stuff if you're serious about catfishing and swear off it from now on cause you're not learning anything by using stuff like that or looking for some magic potion ... there is a magic potion for catfishing and that's LiveCut ... if you're not catching anything on LiveCut then there's nothing there .... I can't say that enough times either ... I can't shout it from the highest mountain and get my point across any better than I've attempted to here. focus on finding the fish ... not on letting the fish find you. Use your wits and load your poles in your boat knowing that you're going to catch fish today and leave your dependency on luck at the roulette tables where it belongs.

Question:

Posted by J-Hat: Good post tiny,I love to catfish and have pretty good luck figuring them out, but this weekend I went to fall creek falls state park to fish, got a bunch of keeper bass (15 inches) and started drifting nightcrawlers for catfish and shellcracker,I got one catfish about 10lbs nad was wondering would the fish school up this time of year,cuz I stopped and put on a fresh cut creek chub which always works and waited fo 20 minutes and nothing so i was wondering if they school this time of year getting ready to bed, the one i caught had just started developing its eggs.
 

Reply:

J-Hat, the fish in keystone this time of year take off up river .. there are two river systems that feed keystone which is the arkansas and the cimarron and people that fish up river this time of year start catching a lot of fish ... "the run" what most people call it is a migration that takes place when the third week of may rolls around the biggest part of the fish leave the lake and head up river and it takes a long time for them to come back too. any lake that has a major tributary with bluecat in it will find that around the same latitude as keystone is which is northeast central oklahoma will experience the same thing. if you're fishing an area that holds up bluecat migration during this time of year like a river that's blocked by a loch or dam then that's a great place to fish this time of year because they can't go any further up or are restricted from going any further up river so around there would be good for bluecat fishing. channelcat this time of year are hammering the shoreline pretty good and cut bluegill is a good bait for channels close to shore or shad and nightcrawlers in areas that don't have a lot of bluegill or something like that. On rivers right now the fish are on the move but you probably won't find very good numbers in the lakes at all ... the larger fish left keystone on may 19th this year ... last year they left around may 21st and then a week or two later they were killing them up around Red Rock, OK on the arkansas which is about 100 miles up river so they don't mess around on scooting up river ... it's almost like they're on a mission. The blues make another migration in the fall in mid october to mid november also when the shad take off up river ... in mid october when the water starts to cool the shad make a mass exodus up river and when a few good november cold fronts move through they almost vanish from the river it seems and then they show back up in the lake. it's kind of amazing to be out there and see that they do this stuff every year and it gives ya a better idea of where to be fishing when you can put the time in. watch and see if this doesn't happen in your area also cause i'll bet that it does ... right now if you can get up river from where you're at to the next dam you'll find the fishing is a lot better up there below a dam or below the dam if there's that kind of lake where you're fishing ... if it's a lake that doesn't have but a small tributary then that makes it easy to fish because you can go up to the smaller tributaries that are feeding it and even if there's no water coming in this time of year the fish will be up in the small tributaries very shallow posturing for the spawn and even doing battle right now with one another ... they'll also hit just about any live bait you put out there ... like live bluegill or something of that nature. large shad heads and skipjack if it's available would also be great baits for the shallow tributaries. when I say shallows I mean shallows too ... 2 ft of water and comb the shoreline along the outside of the tributaries as well as there's only so much area they'll be in ... you catch one big male in an area there's liable to not be any others close by as he'll probably have them run out of there ... you can tell the males from the females too by the muscled up humps on their backs and their heads are broader than the females also. the females won't have the humps on their backs or not nearly as pronounced as the males. we call um shoulders as the humps are big massive muscles that are around the dorsal and forward to the head. in other words ... drifting the main part of the lake probably won't produce much this time of year. go shallow and up in the tributaries as far as you can go ... if they're small tribs use your trolling motor to get up in there and anchor then broadcast your poles around the edges within just feet of the shore and use suspended rigs ... like 6 oz sinker with the hook tied on a dropper loop about 2 ft above the sinker then a small balloon above the hook and slack line the rig so that the balloon or crappie float will pick the line up off bottom suspending the hook. that rig will work 5 times better than a Carolina rig thrown up by the shore because the fish won't have to struggle to get to the bait ... picture a 30 lb bluecat trying to get a bait off bottom in the mud where the water is only 2 ft deep ... it'd be pretty hard for them and they may not even bother with it ... use a bottom float rig and that'll help a lot when fishing as I've mentioned.