Drift Fishing For Bluecats

Visit my new site at www.catfishing.tv there's a lot more up-to-date info there.

When drifting for bluecats I've found it necessary to try different ways to cut the bait because the fish seem to bite differently at times ... most of the time the heads work best ... just cut them and hook them through the eyes ... if they're big shad heads and you're using big circle hooks the best hookup rate you can get with that combo is to stick the point of the hook through the mouth and out the top of the head so that when the blue clamps down on the bait the hook is already positioned to slide over to the side of the mouth ... same with bluegill heads too ... on the small heads you can hook them through the eyes and they hold really well like that but when the water starts to cool like during the winter months the fish don't need as much to sustain themselves and a lot of days they won't hit anything but thin strips of fillets or very small shad heads using very small hooks ... it seems like the fish's mouth gets more sensitive during the cold weather and they'll spit the larger hooks almost every time. the position of the bait is also important ... like if you're using a drop rig where the sinker is tied on the bottom and you've got the hook tied onto the line with a dropper loop sometimes the fish won't hit anything over 6 or 8 inches above the sinker but when using the drop rig you got to have plenty long enough leader or dropper loop that the bait will trail behind the mainline ... sometimes they hit better about two feet up and you won't get any hits closer to bottom ... seems like the day after a front or something like that they hit better closer to bottom ... the speed of the drift is also important ... I like to go slow enough that it doesn't even register on my gps ... or at least .4 mph but slower is better and I've found that sometimes they like a little action in the bait too ... oh pray tell how would ya put action in a drift rig ... simple ... use a crankbait ... white crankbaits work great for this but they gotta be pretty sturdy cause ya get a 30 lb blue hit one and they'll put a real whompus on a good crankbait and some stickbaits work well but what I'd do is tie them on carlina style with about a 2 ft leader on normal days that no front has come through in a while ... like a good south wind or southeast wind has been blowing about 10 mph for the last week and the water temps around 55 to 60 degrees I'll look for busted up shad under birds and then make my drift across areas like this with a 2 ft leader and sometimes a 3 ft leader ... the crankbait is tipped with a shad fillet to give it that cutbait scent trail and the big blues will really nail um on days like I mentioned ... when the water is colder ... say about 38 degrees they'll be wintering and if I use a crankbait at all when the water is that cold it'll be a very small one and if there's been a front move through a day or two before the leader I use might be only 6" long or so ... with the super slow drift the crankbait will still be floating up from the sinker but it'll give a good flutter as it's moving ... I also change the hooks out to some good sized trebles so that it'll increase my hookups ... most medium sized crankbaits are made for bass fishing and they've got some pretty small treble hooks on them ... ya gotta change those out to some bigger hooks for bluecat fishin but can't go too heavy without using a float on the line because if ya go too big on the treble hooks the crankbait won't be bouyant any longer. if it's not floating it'll be plowing into the mud ... gotta suspend your baits too if you're just using a hook ... like a standard carolina rig won't work as the bait will be down in the soft silt mud ... my usual drifting rid is a drop rig with a span of about 1 ft of 50 lb test spider wire so that it's limp and doesn't impead the hook's ability to position itself in the corne of their mouth when using a circle hook ... if I'm using a small J hook like it'll be when drifting for wintering blues. I also use balloon rigs for drifting in warmer months by using a collapsable rig set at a predetermined depth by using jugs the day before ... I'll use about 5 to 10 jugs and set them out the day before and find out what level I'm catching the most fish at and then set most of my balloon rigs at that depth. The balloon rig I use is I'll set my hooks at the desired depth and then fasten the balloon on the line by tieing a knot in the balloon and before I sinch the knot down I'll fold over my mainline and stick the fold through the balloon knot and then tighten the balloon knot down on the line so that a good stout pull on the line will pull loose from the balloon .... with a drop rig I'll set two balloons in back of the boat and then two balloon in front by blowing up the balloons really big and set the depth with a single or double hook rig using a splitshot to get the bait down but not so heavy that it'll keep the balloon from drifting fairly quicly out in front of the boat and then set a few standard drift rigs and that way I'm covering a lot of water ... if I want to cover even more water I'll use planers and my trolling motor to surge the planers out from the boat and then stop the trolling motor. Sometimes I'll drift fast enough with this controlled drifting method to keep my planer boards out and this covers a lot of water like that. it's a deadly method using planers, balloons and straight drop rigs. I'll normally have a couple of crankbaits out tipped with shad fillet also. if I don't prefish with jugs I'll set them at different levels and figure it out the day I'm out there drifting.

I won't normally ever drift any more unless maybe it's new waters I'm fishing and I've resorted to drifting as a last ditch effort. but there's lots of options so feel free to experiment with different methods ... always look for busted up shad along subtle changes on the bottom of the waters you're fishing ... a gps is great for drifting as you can download the enhanced lake maps off of the lowrance site and can see where a lot of the bottom structure layout is like humps and what not. they're very accurate on most lakes too ... well, the ones that haven't silted in really badly, that is.

another tip if you didn't already know ... you can freeze your catalpa worms with corn meal mixed in the bag and also yellow grasshoppers can be frozen in corn meal and they'll look just like they did when you put them in the bags. they will look like they're actually alive or will come back to life when you thaw them out. it's pretty amazing how well they keep like that. I'm just guessing it'll work with catalpa worms though ... it works great with grasshoppers. so I bet it'd work great with the worms too. They're never as good as they were fresh but it's just a trick I learned when I was a kid.

I think I've covered just about every thing I can think of except maybe no-wind-drifting ... some days you want to drift and there's no wind .. if you've got a good enough trolling motor you can set it so that it'll drift ya real good ... mine will go super slow and it's got autopilot/copilot on it so it makes it really easy to drift with the trolling motor ... the way I do it is I'll drop my trolling motor and then crank it up putting the drift socks out to open them up real good then set it on the #2 speed and that's usually about .2mph with just one sock out ... if I put both of my 60" socks out it'll be slow enough that it doesn't register on my gps and that's about how I like to drift. but like I said earlier ... I don't do it that often any more ... maybe 3 times per year. I guess I should get out there and see if my drift socks ain't dry rotted hahaha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catfish fishing is a great way for folks to relax and have a great time outdoors. The information you find here will make your outings a lot more fun as I'll try to show you how to locate and catch the big ones. It'll require a lot of time to read all the information that I've written here and on catfishing.tv site but well worth the effort. You won't find any hocus pocus tips or tricks here but a lot of common sense information. I've spent years figuring out how fish react to different situations like fronts, storms, wind and just about every conceivable scenario imaginable ... I've studied first hand all of this by being out there sometimes every day. Trying to locate and see how they move when something changes. Catfish Fishing has literally become my Life's Work but I don't consider it work at all. It's just what I do. I hope this catfish fishing information helps you out. Good fishing!
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Catfishing, Let's start this with a little background and life cycle of catfish be it blues channel or flathead. These fish hatch out and are very small ... bottom of the food chain ... the blues and channels have a pretty decent defense with the spines on their sides and dorsal fin that are very sharp and sting like fire when they poke ya ... blues and channel will feed off their young sometimes if they're wounded and I've seen big blues that have been skinned alive by larger catfish ... judging by the marks on them I'd have to guess they were other blues biting them. We'll start at the beginning though ... they're very small and have to fend for themselves and are inherently scavengers as they will feed off carcasses or anything they can knip a little morsel of food off of and they grow fairly fast like this. Once these fish reach about 1.5# they tend to scavenge less and hunt more it seems and when they reach that 3# mark they are predominantly hunters of smaller fish like shad, perch, bass, or anything they can catch and devour. There are usually a lot more fish under 1/2 lb to 1 lb in all waters and they'll be the ones after most prepared baits, punch bait, and dough bait. This is of course dependant upon food supply mostly and health of the fish as fish that have become injured might have to scavenge more ... they are opportunists in some areas more so than others.

Catfishing, Bluecat are my main target fish and you can't catch many blues on prepared baits ... channels are a little different as are flatheads. Channelcat will feed off of prepared baits more so than Bluecat or flathead but there's not nearly as many of them as there are blues so fishing success will be even worse fishing prepared baits or commercial baits as there's gonna be a lot of fiddlers and just a few quality fish that may bite on these ... flathead bite mostly on live bait ... I've seen them caught on worms quite a bit and cut bait at certain times here lately have produced a lot of flathead for me during and just after cold fronts moved through ... don't ask me why cause I haven't a clue, but most of the time you have to use live perch or other live bait to catch flatheads. Don't try goldfish ... I've seen goldfish used for over 5 years and never seen anything caught on them but gar ... now you guys that catch fish on goldfish and catch fish on them don't go getting upset now cause this is just what I've witnessed ... use them if you want to and I'd suggest everyone try things I say that don't work and email me your findings with the type of area you used the things in question. catfishing info,

Here's a posting I asked if I could post by a man that fishes tail waters like I do. He explains stuff better than I do and I never intended to offend anyone or say that I'm a better fisherman than anyone else. If these writings offend anyone that is not the purpose ... this is an info piece to help beginners and experts alike. If you catch plenty of fish and have the bait experience you are happy with then I am not trying to change you or suggest that what I say is better than what you do ... this is just an opinion page written by someone that hasn't used manufactured baits for near 15 years so I don't know how great or not so great the newer ones are. Read this with understanding that I don't use prepared baits any longer and most likely won't try the new ones either ... not because I know they don't work ... because I'm pretty much at ease with what I use now and that's whatever the fish I catch has in it's stomach if I can catch one or two to find out. I don't have to do this in places I'm accustomed to fishin as it's pretty much the same all the time. Just different presentations occasionally work better like shad heads vs. shad fillets or whole live shad. Don't seem like it'd make any difference but it does make a lot of difference on certain days.

Catfishing, Blues don't lay around in holes or areas waiting for a bait to come hit them in the head ... they migrate in schools a lot it seems like ... when they move through you'll catch a lot of fish all about the same size ... schools can prolly be from 5 to 50 fish or even more. Fishing trotlines suspended I've caught several of these blues on bait and empty hooks (unbaited hooks) close or the next hook to where I'd had a bait. All of which would be about the same size. I'm sure there are exceptions to every rule and I'm just stating what I believe is fact as I've not done any underwater survey or junk like that ... I just go by what seems to be happening and try to make sense of the situation. All the channels I've caught were singles between catching blues and all different sizes so I don't think that channels migrate as much and tend to feed more stationary ... these are the fish you might catch more of unless your state laws allow you to bait holes like they do on those fishing shows for catfish. Baited holes will drive fish kinda crazy depending on what was used kinda like the movie "Jaws" throwing fresh blood overboard except you bait the hole or holes several days in advance. I've tried this b4 and it is really weird how it works ... Baiting can be with just about anything ... you can throw bails of alfalfa hay in areas and attract several channels to an area ... they'll rip those bales apart in no time. Usually baited holes are with a fermented grain inside a burlap bag like a 100# tater bag. I won't tell you how this is done as there's no sport to this type fishing and I don't know how much if any damage is caused by this type stuff but baited holes are pretty wild action ... you can catch fish three to four days in this area that had been baited with just about anything you throw at the fish. This is how some bait companies sell their baits and products. These baited fish might hang around this area for several days waiting ... the best way is to keep baiting like every 3 days drop another and then another and then another and then another ... the channels come in like dogs to a feed bucket and will hit anything that's thrown into the water. This technique is used all over and is highly illegal in some places ... Oklahoma has laws against it ... I don't know about other states. It's very hard for the Fish and Game Dept. to catch these individuals though as they'd have to be caught in the act of dumping the hole bait. I'd imagine a lot of the catfish fishing guide services use this type deal to please their customers. I can't say this for a fact though. Carcass dumping has the same fish attractant capability also but most of this is mainly for channels but blues are drawn into the feeding frenzy as well at later stages of the baited hole's life cycle. Any time one species is drawn into an area others will be drawn as well. Dogfood is also another hole bait as it comes in good quantities and reasonably priced enough so that hole baiting with it is possible. Usually with that type baiting someone will take about two to three weeks and drive by and chunk a can full of dogfood in the water ... then the next day again and again and again and in effect kinda changing the feeding habits of the fish in that area ... then when they get ready to go fishin the fish are drawn by the sounds this baiter is makin whether it's the dog food rattle in a bucket or whatever or the splash the dog food makes in the water. They then do the same thing and you can catch a lot of fish on store bought bait as these fish will be scouring the area lookin for dog food and pick up just about anything that resembles it. This is also how the manufactured bait gets used on the fishing shows prostituted to the bait companies get you to buy their bait ... they'll bait the area weeks in advance every day sometimes twice per day and then wehn they get there they'll throw out a handfull of their prepared bait making you think that's what is attracting the fish but they don't tell you about the preparation to get the fish conditioned to bite like crazy on this stuff. "OH MAN ... THIS BAIT IS THE BEST STUFF i'VE EVER USED .... OH WOW ... i GOT ANOTHER ONE!" Now you know how to catch fish on manufactured bait. Kinda like watching pro wrestling ... sorry everyone but that's fake too.

Catfishing

I thought I'd do another little bit on bluecat fishing in daylight hours ... this can be very tricky to do in some situations. The hardest being calm, clear, hot mid summer days in a clear water environment. I mean the hardest if you're not sure where to look. Situations like this usually make it very easy to find fish because we know that fish don't like direct sunlight. The are very reclusive in situations like this so fishing structure is the most important thing to focus on in a situation like this. Mid to late summer is my line of thinking on this piece when the oxygen level is depleted very badly below 10 ft deep where there's not current at all. This will help you find the fish because they can't be any deeper than 8 to 10 ft so they must look for shelter in the shallows.

Wind creates waves which refract the light more-so than a calm flat water surface does, this effects fish more than a person can realize. I'd imagine it'd effect all other fish as well but I haven't much experience there. The important things to realize is that the calmer and clearer the water is, the tighter fish will hold to structure and I mean they'll be up under rocks, logs, or anything they can find to make them feel more secure. Large bluecat don't get large by being bold and unafraid of anything in their environment so this lets us know we have to fish as close to structure as we possibly can.

Catfishing, When looking for a place to fish in a new area under these conditions I'll look for an area that's shaded most of the day. Hopefully I'll find a shaded area on the back side of a bluff with some kind of broken rock structure or piled up driftwood, logjam or something the fish can get under. Flooded timber is also a good choice of fishing areas in this situation. Not always will you find areas such as this so if you don't there's always someplace that'll be shaded like the back side of boulders. If there is absolutely no structure or shaded areas in clear still water environment that you're fishing then you should focus on fishing the banks at about 6 to 7 ft deep around the small tributary/tributaries and cover some water. Usually small lakes that have little to no structure will have small tributaries feeding it and these tributaries are a lot of times shaded by trees so start there and work your way around the mouth of the tributaries.

Larger environments such as dammed up rivers aren't so technically involved during this time of year. Usually the fish will be congregated around  any open water source such as water trickling down from tainter gates on a dam or some small feeder creek. Fishing a float and bait shallow around these type places will produce a good amount of fish during the day ... my favorite fishing technique this time of year is a grasshopper under a float thrown right under where a tainter gate is leaking... this creates highly aerated water and the fish are very drawn to it. The fish will hit instantly if I make a good throw and hit directly under the open water source. If I miss a little I'll have to wait until it drifts close to the area, that is, if it'll drift towards the dam at all.

Catfishing, Shallow river fishing is also good this time of year around restrictions in the river. Restrictions that make it hard for the fish to go further upstream like massive log jams with shallow water on the upstream side of the jam. In this situation you'll want to fish directly behind the log jam or if you can place your bait under the backside of it it's even better. Wade fishing is really cool like this. I'd take an old stiff rod and with my bait on a hook with no sinker I'd probe around under the backside of the logjam. I did this in Deep Fork River near where I grew up and was very successful ... the Nerodia water snakes made it a little un-nerving when they'd drop off into the water but they usually won't mess with ya. I tried this in Cimarron also but it was a lot harder there because when a log jam is created in the Cimarron all the sand washes out from behind the log jam and it's hard to wade it so the best way to fish that is to walk on the log jam dropping your bait down into the holes. When doing this you need to make sure you have very strong line and rod so you can just horse them out. It's impossible to fish structure like this with anything less than 40 lb test or so... I'd recommend 40 lb test Ande for doing this. Yellow grasshoppers is also my bait of choice for this type fishing because the fish won't hesitate to grab them. If there's any current you'll need to use a sinker but don't use any more of a sinker than you have to.

 

Here is an article done in In-Fisherman magazine's Catfish Insider I think is the name ... lc sent me this article.

Catfishing, If you're fishing an area that is a healthy environment for the fish and they have plenty of food you'll not be able to catch them on just any old thing ... you will have to use what they feed upon. This is usually the case in most waters in Oklahoma as I've fished near every body of water here and in every tributary just about ... Deep Fork river being the exception to all these. I've catfishing info, bought near every bait imaginable and caught nothing but little bitty fish on them and some I caught nothing at all on when I was younger ... when I'd fish with worms, grasshoppers, frogs, crawfish, shad, perch, or any other natural bait I'd catch fish ... I've bought a truck load of Bait of different kinds and used them with no success and then find something to use on the bank like bugs or toads and start catching some fish and then be unable to find any more and go back to the prepared baits and not catch anything again except little bitty fish and I'm talkin bout sardine sized fish. Every time a new one came out I'd try it several times and also about every kind of homeade stuff you could think of looking for that miracle cure for catfish. The only thing I've bought out of bait stores that worked for cats is shad guts and that was only in Deep Fork river that I ever caught any decent fish ... as most of you Okies know Deep Fork isn't the most sanitary place in the state ... it runs right through downtown OKC and used to got just about everything in the world dumped into it ... don't know about now ... I'd imagine that since Arcadia Lake's tributary is Deep Fork they may have had to clean up their act ... I don't know but the baitfish was almost non-existant forcing the fish to eat just about anything they could find ... Deep Fork fishermen try to use the same methods they use normally in other rivers or lakes and they'd be skunked on a regular basis. Chicken products can catch you fish and always have been able to but most all the fish will be the smaller variety. I've used chicken gizzards a lot catfish fishing with trotlines and baited every other hook or every third hook and catch a lot of fish on the unbaited hooks ... seemed like when one bit the gizzards the others that are with it or are attracted to the line by the caught fish will hit anything around it ... usually the shiny hooks were the only thing there and they'd bust them just like regular baited hooks as I've came back the next day and pulled several fish in a row off the line and there was only every third hook baited. This confirms my suspicions that these fish are hunters ... and also them feeding on whole shad and have a gut full of shad in water running so fast you'd think it'd kill the fish with all the turbulance of 50,000 cfps coming out of the dam ... ya know if those shad were dead those fish woulda had to gathered them up goin down river at a super fast rate of speed and being able to find a bait in that fast of water is totally amazing to me. They do though and they find them within minutes of you hanging your sinker in the rocks. I also use this to catch more fish knowing that they are hunters they'll track down wounded shad in a hurry ... I will cast out in calm water and reel the baited hook back towards me about 50 yds and this increases my catch ratio a lot as when they swim accross where I'd reeled my bait it'll leave a minimal trail of blood and slime/scent in sort of the same manner a wounded fish will and the cats will track it down if they're feeding. The prepared baits are good for spending hours messin with fish that you can't hook due to their being so small and being opportunists but if you wish to catch quality fish out of a healthy environment you'll most likely need to use what the fish are accustomed to hunting which is most of the time shad, perch, and other small fish. If you have to use prepared baits due to not being able to catch anything you should use chicken products such as blood bait and livers or perhaps nightcrawlers or shad guts and save your money on the rest of the stuff.

Catfishing, Here's a little trick I used to use when I was a kid is take a pair of hose ... like panty hose and put the liver down in it and tie two knots in it above the liver or whatever that you'd just dropped down in it ... the knots should be about 1/4 of an inch apart and cut the hose between the knots ... this will let you drop another bait down inside the stocking and the second knot will already be there to catch the bait and tie two more knots above the bait again and cut between the knots again ... you can get about 20 little bait packets outta one leg and the fiddlers won't be able to rob you of your bait ... I'd suggest though when/if you catch a decent fish cut it open and see what it's feeding on ... that will tell you more than anything.
catfishing info,

Catfishing, A Lady emailed me the other day asking about locating catfish so I thought I'd write this little piece and give a few bits of info on how I do it here in Oklahoma when I fished the lakes. A lot of people just try anyplace that looks like it'd hold catfish but this really isn't the way to find good to fair catfish action on rod & reel. The main reason is here in Oklahoma we have more blues and if ya haven't illegally baited holes then they're most likely not gonna hold in one particular spot ... I like trying around crappie structure looking around it with a trolling motor ... just cruising through with an outboard motor I never see anything but a few once in a while as the fish usually skeedaddle and move from the path of the boat ... the motor and prop noise is very loud .... the fish are used to the sound of boat motors but will still get out of the way when they hear one coming straight at them and will usually not be underneath the boat unless they're really deep. Using a trolling motor and current you can go right over large schools of blues without making them bolt. They usually don't pack close together like whales or dolphins but they will be in close proximity. They are aggressive and will attack one of their own if it gets injured or hooked if it's small enough .... this doesn't happen much but I have hooked smaller fish on rod & reel and other cats will bite the hooked fish excited by the thrashing or some kinda sound they're giving off ..... perhaps it's the barking noise they make that excites the others or just the electrical impulses of the hooked fish. I'd like to find out if this is the case as duplication of this noise might attract other blues to the area. Might be illegal here though but would be interesting to be able to figure that out.

Catfishing, Structure is always a good place to start and structure can be anything from abrupt to subtle as blues kind of use structure as a holding area like a place that is darker or darkest during the day in that particular area. It doesn't seem like they really like being in direct sunlight during the day as I've caught most of my daytime blues on the shaded side of the pilons. Water temp plays an important part of where fish will be also ..... if it's cold the fish can be deep ..... if the water is very hot during mid summer they'll be suspended as the oxygen level will be very low towards the bottom so in mid summer a lot of times the fish won't be able to stay in shadows. I catch a lot of fish during the summer in the daytime knowing that the fish are up and even on top looking for a good source of oxygenated water so that they can breath and feed in a little better comfort. Streams or water trickling in from a natural spring will hold quite a few fish during the summer months.

IMPORTANT FACT! IF THE FIDDLERS ARE BITING AND STRIPPING YOUR BAIT WHERE YOU'RE FISHING...THERE ARE NO QUALITY SIZED FISH THERE! I can't stress that enough ... When you're fishing and catching larger fish you should be able to notice that those little rod peckers aren't messin with your poles. This is due to size difference mainly ... larger fish will scare off and even drive off smaller fish just by being in the area ... the little ones prolly get gone just out of fear of being eaten like some kind of natural instinct maybe or perhaps the larger ones do actually try to feed on their smaller kindred. I've seen people catch a lot of fish on fingerling blues and channels ... I won't use them as I'm not certain of the legality of it and they don't bite on them very good it seems like but when one is caught on a fingerling channel or blue as bait it's usually a pretty big fish. Catfishing, I've also seen near dead blues about 8 to 10 lbs totally skinned alive by other blues ... I say this because of the more rounded mouth prints on the fish's body ... flathead bite would have been a more straight across imprint. This info will help you not sit there and mess with fiddlers all day. If you're fishing from the bank and fiddlers are messing with you and you are just camping there watch when you start getting good fish on .... the smaller fish won't be biting any more or will at least quit until the larger fish move on through. If you're in a boat these smaller fish are good indicators because if they're there and biting there are no big ones in the area. Depth locator/fish finders are a handy tool in locating good quantities of fish but if you don't have one use the fiddler/small fish as info as well ... move to another spot if there's nothing but smaller fish there and stripping bait off your hooks. If you're camped in an area and just fishing to kill time watch for the fiddlers to stop biting ..... if they do that usually means larger fish have moved into the area and if you're not catching any you'll need to use a different bait ... most likely there's fish in the area hunting for food and probably the best thing to use is live perch ..... smaller ones work well on blues or use live shad or take and cut the head off a live shad or slit it's body cavity open and hook it through the eyes and cast it out .... WAY OUT! and then reel it back slowly letting it rest in the area you want to fish ... if there's current you won't need to do that if the water is moving really good. Doing that though imitates a wounded baitfish to a certain degree and will produce a lot of good fish.

catfish fishing catfishing info, catfishing information

Blues, Channels, & Flathead are mostly nocturnal feeders so knowing this will help you locate fish during the day in winter as well .... the fish will be deep most likely or on the shaded side of rock bluffs or ledges. At night they'll move out into flats to feed. Flathead wintering holes are hard to find if you don't know where to look but flats are easily caught out of their wintering holes but there's not much sport in this ... I have caught a lot of flathead lately during and just after cold fronts move through. Catching them on fresh cut bait (shad heads). The shad were all still alive when I'd cut their heads off and put them on ... the flatheads were biting really fast on them Oct 3rd, 4th, & 5th. I started fishing for them a little bit and caught a lot of nice ones. Then after the front is pretty much played out they quit biting shad heads .... go figure. If you're goin after flathead in the winter on rod&reel all I can say is "Good Luck".  Areas to target flats vary greatly from cement structure to sand/gravel flats ... my most productive areas are around crappie structure or sand/gravel flats where a lot of bluegill or crappie congregate. Catfishing, The crappie structure is best for daylight flathead fishing as the flats seem to lay up under the crappie structure placed there by crappie fishermen to attract crappie ... I fished these with really good success during the daylight hours by placing a fluttering bluegill directly under the crappie structure by dragging it around the cedar trees. I got hung up a lot but also caught a lot of flats like this. 

Important points to remember: Catfishing, Catfishing

If fiddlers (small catfish) are in the area there won't be any larger fish there.
catfishing info, catfishing information Use trolling motor and fish finder around crappie structure like sunken cedar trees to locate fish and when it gets really cold check deep water with fish finder to locate cats.
Flathead Bait I just remembered and didn't know about that you may try if they're in your area is bullheads. They're a little bitty green catfish that don't usually get much bigger than 1# around here but I have seen them get up to about 3# as I've caught some while fishing for largemouth. I caught them on crankbaits ... bass colored medium diving Bomber. The best thing to catch bullheads on though is worms or chicken liver but they'll eat anything ... usually when there are bullheads in a body of water they pretty much are the main fish there as they populate really fast and are hard to get rid of when they become resident in a pond. Best thing to get rid of them is to throw a couple of flathead in the pond but largemouth bass will wipe the floor with them too. If you put 5 or 6 3# largemouth or bigger in a pond with bullheads they'll clean the pond up in a few years. To fish with them take a pair of wire cutters and remove the spines on them and the flathead will engulf them. For some reason the flathead and larger blues really go after them. This is not something I've ever tried but seen an illegal commercial fisherman using them catching a ton of blues on them with one of them rod&reel boats.

Oklahoma is a great catfishing state. Keystone lake catfish guide, keystone lake catfishing guide, Oklahoma guide service, Tiny's Guide Service, catfishing guide, lake keystone catfish guide, lake keystone catfishing guide, tiny's catfishing,

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Check out my new site at Catfishing.tv

Let's start this with a little background and life cycle of catfish be it blues channel or flathead. These fish hatch out and are very small ... bottom of the food chain ... the blues and channels have a pretty decent defense with the spines on their sides and dorsil fin that are very sharp and sting like fire when they poke ya ... blues and channel will feed off their young sometimes if they're wounded and I've seen big blues that have been skinned alive by larger catfish ... judging by the marks on them I'd have to guess they were other blues biting them. We'll start at the beginning though ... they're very small and have to fend for themselves and are enherently scavengers as they will feed off carcasses or anything they can knip a little morsel of food off of and they grow fairly fast like this. Once these fish reach about 1.5# they tend to scavenge less and hunt more it seems and when they reach that 3# mark they are predomanently hunters of smaller fish like shad, perch, bass, or anything they can catch and devour. There are usually a lot more fish under 1/2 lb to 1 lb in all waters and they'll be the ones after most prepared baits, punch bait, and dough bait. This is of course dependant upon food supply mostly and health of the fish as fish that have become injured might have to scavenge more ... they are opportunists in some areas more so than others.

Bluecat are my main target fish and you can't catch many blues on prepared baits ... channels are a little different as are flatheads. Channelcat will feed off of prepared baits more so than Bluecat or flathead but there's not nearly as many of them as there are blues so fishing success will be even worse fishing prepared baits or commercial baits as there's gonna be a lot of fiddlers and just a few quality fish that may bite on these ... flathead bite mostly on live bait ... I've seen them caught on worms quite a bit and cut bait at certain times here lately have produced a lot of flathead for me during and just after cold fronts moved through ... don't ask me why cause I haven't a clue, but most of the time you have to use live perch or other live bait to catch flatheads. Don't try goldfish ... I've seen goldfish used for over 5 years and never seen anything caught on them but gar ... now you guys that catch fish on goldfish and catch fish on them don't go getting upset now cause this is just what I've witnessed ... use them if you want to and I'd suggest everyone try things I say that don't work and email me your findings with the type of area you used the things in question.

Here's a posting I asked if I could post by a man that fishes tail waters like I do. He explains stuff better than I do and I never intended to offend anyone or say that I'm a better fisherman than anyone else. If these writings offend anyone that is not the purpose ... this is an info piece to help beginners and experts alike. If you catch plenty of fish and have the bait experience you are happy with then I am not trying to change you or suggest that what I say is better than what you do ... this is just an oppinion page written by someone that hasn't used manufactured baits for near 15 years so I don't know how great or not so great the newer ones are. Read this with understanding that I don't use prepared baits any longer and most likely won't try the new ones either ... not because I know they don't work ... because I'm pretty much at ease with what I use now and that's whatever the fish I catch has in it's stomach if I can catch one or two to find out. I don't have to do this in places I'm accustomed to fishin as it's pretty much the same all the time. Just different presentations occasionally work better like shad heads vs. shad fillets or whole live shad. Don't seem like it'd make any difference but it does make a lot of difference on certain days.


Deano
Kaw dam
Tue Nov 23 13:06:17 1999

I went over to Kaw dam yesterday and fished off the walk way thats on the east side of the river and a man fishing next to me was catching 2 to my one he was useing stink bait and I was useing perch .
He was catching blues and channels I was catching blues and flatheads .
He cought 15 fish and I cought 9 but my smallest one out weighted his bigest one he keep all 15 of the fish he cought and I keep 4 of the fish I cought he ended up with around 10 lbs of fish I took around 60 lbs home .All in all we had one hell of a good time fishing.
I think this is what Tiny was trying to say to you ALL yes you can catch fish on man made baits but most of the time you will catch biger fish useing the baits that mother nat. put here for the fish to eat . Im not posting this to try and piss off any one I catch nice fish useing fresh cut and live bait and myself like Tiny have spent money on stink baits but over time we have learned it's all about what kind and size of fish you want to catch I still catch some small ones on fresh and live baits and I know that the info that Tiny has given will help the ones that don't know what to use and they want to catch some big cats . All in all it's what ever you can use and be happy with .
I don't think Tiny or me are trying to tell some of the old timers how to fish isn't this board out to help new fisher people to catch fish and keep this great sport alive .
What do you think some of the younger people think about all this bad mouthing going on here me myself I would like to tell and show the young people we are sports men and it's something they will enjoy doing for a life time . And again I will say Im not getting on this board to piss any one off so if you want to make smart remarks about what I post they will go unanswered by me .Happy fishing to ALL
Deano

Great Post Deano and thanks for letting me use it.


Blues don't lay around in holes or areas waiting for a bait to come hit them in the head ... they migrate in schools a lot it seems like ... when they move through you'll catch a lot of fish all about the same size ... schools can prolly be from 5 to 50 fish or even more. Fishing trotlines suspended I've caught several of these blues on bait and empty hooks (unbaited hooks) close or the next hook to where I'd had a bait. All of which would be about the same size. I'm sure there are exceptions to every rule and I'm just stating what I believe is fact as I've not done any underwater survey or junk like that ... I just go by what seems to be happening and try to make sense of the situation. All the channels I've caught were singles between catching blues and all different sizes so I don't think that channels migrate as much and tend to feed more stationary ... these are the fish you might catch more of unless your state laws allow you to bait holes like they do on those fishing shows for catfish. Baited holes will drive fish kinda crazy depending on what was used kinda like the movie "Jaws" throwing fresh blood overboard except you bait the hole or holes several days in advance. I've tried this b4 and it is really weird how it works ... Baiting can be with just about anything ... you can throw bails of alfalfa hay in areas and attract several channels to an area ... they'll rip those bales apart in no time. Usually baited holes are with a fermented grain inside a burlap bag like a 100# tater bag. I won't tell you how this is done as there's no sport to this type fishing and I don't know how much if any damage is caused by this type stuff but baited holes are pretty wild action ... you can catch fish three to four days in this area that had been baited with just about anything you throw at the fish. This is how some bait companies sell their baits and products. These baited fish might hang around this area for several days waiting ... the best way is to keep baiting like every 3 days drop another and then another and then another and then another ... the channels come in like dogs to a feed bucket and will hit anything that's thrown into the water. This technique is used all over and is highly illegal in some places ... Oklahoma has laws against it ... I don't know about other states. It's very hard for the Fish and Game Dept. to catch these individuals though as they'd have to be caught in the act of dumping the hole bait. I'd imagine a lot of the catfishin guide services use this type deal to please their customers. I can't say this for a fact though. Carcass dumping has the same fish attractant capability also but most of this is mainly for channels but blues are drawn into the feeding frenzy as well at later stages of the baited hole's life cycle. Any time one species is drawn into an area others will be drawn as well. Dogfood is also another hole bait as it comes in good quantities and reasonably priced enough so that hole baiting with it is possible. Usually with that type baiting someone will take about two to three weeks and drive by and chunk a can full of dogfood in the water ... then the next day again and again and again and in effect kinda changing the feeding habits of the fish in that area ... then when they get ready to go fishin the fish are drawn by the sounds this baiter is makin whether it's the dog food rattle in a bucket or whatever or the splash the dog food makes in the water. They then do the same thing and you can catch a lot of fish on store bought bait as these fish will be scouring the area lookin for dog food and pick up just about anything that resembles it. This is also how the manufactured bait gets used on the fishing shows prostituted to the bait companies get you to buy their bait ... they'll bait the area weeks in advance every day sometimes twice per day and then wehn they get there they'll throw out a handfull of their prepared bait making you think that's what is attracting the fish but they don't tell you about the preparation to get the fish conditioned to bite like crazy on this stuff. "OH MAN ... THIS BAIT IS THE BEST STUFF i'VE EVER USED .... OH WOW ... i GOT ANOTHER ONE!" Now you know how to catch fish on manufactured bait. Kinda like watching pro wrestling ... sorry everyone but that's fake too.

Here is an article done in In-Fisherman magazine's Catfish Insider I think is the name ... lc sent me this article. Bait Company Article

If you're fishing an area that is a healthy environment for the fish and they have plenty of food you'll not be able to catch them on just any old thing ... you will have to use what they feed upon. This is usually the case in most waters in Oklahoma as I've fished near every body of water here and in every tributary just about ... Deep Fork river being the exception to all these. I've bought near every bait imaginable and caught nothing but little bitty fish on them and some I caught nothing at all on when I was younger ... when I'd fish with worms, grasshoppers, frogs, crawfish, shad, perch, or any other natural bait I'd catch fish ... I've bought a truck load of Bait of different kinds and used them with no success and then find something to use on the bank like bugs or toads and start catching some fish and then be unable to find any more and go back to the prepared baits and not catch anything again except little bitty fish and I'm talkin bout sardine sized fish. Every time a new one came out I'd try it several times and also about every kind of homeade stuff you could think of looking for that miracle cure for catfish. The only thing I've bought out of bait stores that worked for cats is shad guts and that was only in Deep Fork river that I ever caught any decent fish ... as most of you Okies know Deep Fork isn't the most sanitary place in the state ... it runs right through downtown OKC and used to got just about everything in the world dumped into it ... don't know about now ... I'd imagine that since Arcadia Lake's tributary is Deep Fork they may have had to clean up their act ... I don't know but the baitfish was almost non-existant forcing the fish to eat just about anything they could find ... Deep Fork fishermen try to use the same methods they use normally in other rivers or lakes and they'd be skunked on a regular basis. Chicken products can catch you fish and always have been able to but most all the fish will be the smaller variety. I've used chicken gizzards a lot fishin with trotlines and baited every other hook or every third hook and catch a lot of fish on the unbaited hooks ... seemed like when one bit the gizzards the others that are with it or are attracted to the line by the caught fish will hit anything around it ... usually the shiny hooks were the only thing there and they'd bust them just like regular baited hooks as I've came back the next day and pulled several fish in a row off the line and there was only every third hook baited. This confirms my suspicions that these fish are hunters ... and also them feeding on whole shad and have a gut full of shad in water running so fast you'd think it'd kill the fish with all the turbulance of 50,000 cfps coming out of the dam ... ya know if those shad were dead those fish woulda had to gathered them up goin down river at a super fast rate of speed and being able to find a bait in that fast of water is totally amazing to me. They do though and they find them within minutes of you hanging your sinker in the rocks. I also use this to catch more fish knowing that they are hunters they'll track down wounded shad in a hurry ... I will cast out in calm water and reel the baited hook back towards me about 50 yds and this increases my catch ratio a lot as when they swim accross where I'd reeled my bait it'll leave a minimal trail of blood and slime/scent in sort of the same manner a wounded fish will and the cats will track it down if they're feeding. The prepared baits are good for spending hours messin with fish that you can't hook due to their being so small and being opportunists but if you wish to catch quality fish out of a healthy environment you'll most likely need to use what the fish are accustomed to hunting which is most of the time shad, perch, and other small fish. If you have to use prepared baits due to not being able to catch anything you should use chicken products such as blood bait and livers or perhaps nightcrawlers or shad guts and save your money on the rest of the stuff.

Here's a little trick I used to use when I was a kid is take a pair of hose ... like panty hose and put the liver down in it and tie two knots in it above the liver or whatever that you'd just dropped down in it ... the knots should be about 1/4 of an inch apart and cut the hose between the knots ... this will let you drop another bait down inside the stocking and the second knot will already be there to catch the bait and tie two more knots above the bait again and cut between the knots again ... you can get about 20 little bait packets outta one leg and the fiddlers won't be able to rob you of your bait ... I'd suggest though when/if you catch a decent fish cut it open and see what it's feeding on ... that will tell you more than anything.


Note added Aug 24, 2005

george brought some danny king punch bait into my boat the other night so my panties is still in a wad over that ... I told him when we was leavin that if he wanted to catch even more hell to bring some wd40 to squirt on his bait and some ivory soap to fish with next time ... at least it'll smell better. ole george was puttin that punch bait on with his hands too so the bait tank ended up stinkin like danny king punch bait ... he wouldn't give up on it neaner ... even when we caught like 100+ lbs of fish and he caught two dinks about 7 to 8 inches long on the punch bait ... he nursed that stuff all night long hahaha. as for the ivory soap taste I've tasted it in the shower and it gives ya a burning sensation in your mouth and about as noxious as wd40 in your mouth ... or even worse. ivory soap is organic though and a fish will eat it most likely but nothing takes the place of or works nearly as well as fresh cut and live bait that the fish are accustomed to eating. people I think look at this bait thing as a way to enhance their fishing when they can't catch fish on natural baits either ... if you're using natural baits like fresh cut shad or fresh cut bluegill, carp, buffalo or anything the catfish have available to them naturally and you're not catching fish it's not because of the bait and that I think is where people go wrong ... they think the fish are there so maybe they're wanting something else and they'll sit in that spot for hours on end trying this and that and when they've given up on conventional bait they'll switch to whatever wive's tale or perhaps be using it all along and this is a form of desperation in a way to try anything or everything they've heard of to try to catch fish where there aren't any. if you're fishing with fresh cut bait and you're not catching anything then there's probably not any fish there or you're fishing on bottom when the fish are staying suspended or any number of things such as you're just not in the right spot, the fish may be holding tight to structure or staying out of the current or in the current ... my suggestion to people is to not try to catch fish that aren't there ... the easiest way to fish is to sit in one spot all night and just put all your hopes into the fish will be there and that's hardly ever the case ... you have to find them and they'll be located in a different area just about every time you go fishing for one reason or another. dogyeller has seen this when fishing with me as we'll fish one spot and catch a lot of fish there and then they just shut off and we'll move to try to predict their movement rather than sitting in that same spot and throwing ivory soap at them ... conditions change instantly or the fish are migrating together due to food sources or paths that that fish take or whatever ... I'm not sure if dogyeller remembers the first time he fished with me but I had already established a pretty good pattern for the fish the few nights before he went with me and the fish were in a migratory movement every evening ... when we first anchored in the one spot I caught several fish and I was in the back of the boat and then he started catching them and they stopped biting for me in the back of the boat ... when they eventually stopped biting for him after he'd landed about 10 or 15 there was a laps in action for about 30 minutes so we moved ... I knew they'd either go east down the edge of the structure or go northwest to the other edge along a weed line ... we moved east first and only caught maybe two and it was very slow there so we then moved to the west side where we picked up several more ... if we'd have kept fishing we'd have had to move on north up the western edge to stay up with the fish ... we ended up with something like 29 fish on the stringers and we'd thrown maybe 5 or 6 back for about 4 or 5 hours of fishing ... there are other times we fished areas that if they were any shallower we'd have been fishing dry land and catching fish in 8 inches to a foot deep when we couldn't get a bite hardly anywhere else ... we didn't alter our bait thinking that it was the bait's fault .. we moved to see if we could establish where the fish were holding and this is how I fish ... I cover a lot of water sometimes to try to establish a pattern and I'm not really all that happy unless I am catching a fish about every 5 to 15 minutes ... if I'm not I'll try to see what the fish are doing or where they are and I don't ever question the bait or think I'm not using the right bait. My point is mainly that if you're not catching fish and you're using what the fish eat naturally and it's cut from live shad or whatever then you need to try to figure out where they are and not what they're biting on cause they're always biting on natural baits ... the only thing that prevents them from biting natural baits are good strong cold fronts and other things like that and sometimes that's just a matter of changing patterns or locations ... suspende vs. bottom fishing sometimes and this is things that have to be figured out everytime a person goes fishing and not a bait issue. I view using alternative baits as something that is of very little value and even kinda foolish when location and fish habbits are the most important part of fishing. getting to know the area you're fishing and watching for signs of activity are very important ... going out to a creek/river bank and just sitting on bank is a great way to fish as I've done that a lot but don't ever question whether or not you're using the right bait when you got a shad head on your line or cut bluegill or something of this nature cause if there's fish feeding in the area they'll hit it and be sure to change your bait every 30 minutes or so and this will maximize your success at bank fishing. this is very important in the summer also cause the hot water cooks the bait pretty fast and the fresher the bait is the better off you are.

I've seen people a lot of times ... well most of the time they'll come up to a camping area and not focus on anything other than just water ... they'll walk down from where they're camping ... set up a lawn chair and start fishing for a two day excursion which is fine to do and I've done it but these same people think since they're not catching anything it's not because of the location or the fish's habits or anything ... they think it's their bait ... the fish just ain't biting and they'll say that ... fish weren't biting at all this weekend and that is hardly ever the case ... there may be a few fish in this area once in a while but public fishing/camping areas get more pressure on them than anyplace and any fish that happens through there will get caught and there usually isn't very many fish that'd ever come to the area anyhow. mostly all you see in areas like this is little dinks hitting your line and you never catch them because they're too small to get the hook in their mouths and no magic potion or anything at all is going to help a situation like that. Throwing all different kinds of bait at them isn't going to help either ... that'd make about as much sense as a bass fisherman going out and anchoring in the middle of a lake and then tieing on different lures all day in a deadzone where there is absolutely no fish and then going home and telling someone that the fish weren't biting and I tried everything ... they may have tried every bait in the box but they weren't where the fish were and this is about the same deal that catfishermen actually do ... you absolutely have to go to the fish because there isn't very many times that the fish will come to you or circumstances where they will. I've just drawn a diagram of the area I'm fishing lately and I'll explain some things below the picture.


the arrow marks the current direction the line from A to C is a shelf that roughly shows where the water goes from 1.5 ft deep to 3 ft deep ... the 3 ft deep side is where A is. B and C is roughly about 1.5 ft but it's not sharp ... like instantly going from 1.5 to 3 ft deep ... that's about 50 yds in transition from A to B ... the heavier current runs from B to A and about where C is there's a little current there but it's not nearly as fast as B and A ... the shore line to the right of A is deeper water.

Right now I'll start out at A for just a little while because if they're in the heavy current they'll hit instantly ... when I'm fishing from the boat I also cover about a 50 to 60 yd radius in all directions to maximize coverage of the water. if I don't get a hit pretty fast at A I'll move up between B and C and fish in the heavier current and try to reach the slower current where C is this has been where I've caught most of the fish the last few weeks and then back down along the island just south of A. The deeper water hasn't been producing very well and in a few days Island B will be under water due to the rains we've been getting and the fish will most likely move up on that high spot and just south of it.

when they have the dam open and generating electricity the current is pretty strong from B to A but when they shut it down it slows way down and that causes the fish to move out ... once they quit biting we don't think there's something wrong with the bait ... we make an educated guess as to which direction they move and we move with them ... we don't strap on some ivory soap or danny king punch bait thinking the shad ran it's course or is no longer any good. we continually search for the fish until they're located and sometimes they move north of C when the water is shut down or sometimes they move up river ... both places are too shallow to run a boat in so the next move we make is south of A or back to A. moving accomplishes a few things also ... it allows you to freshen the bait on all the rods and it also gives you experience as to the fish's habits in certain situations or environmental changes ... staying in one spot and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them will fail time after time with only once or twice catching anything to speak of ... like george insisting that danny king's punch bait was the shiznit cause he caught a few nice fish on it ... we caught fish all night long while he nursed that danny king punch bait all night stinkin up the boat and not catching anything on it but two little dinks ... a person might catch a nice fish or two on stuff like that over the years but it ultimately costs you the price of the bait plus the time wasted not catching any fish when you could be focusing more on how they're reacting to the environment around them.
 

There are like three main types of spot fishing I do and focusing in mostly on places that draw fish into them. I look for areas that draw fish into them because this is the place they'll usually hang out at most of the time. Structure type areas I don't focus on too much at keystone lake other than drop-offs and humps, that sort of thing. If the draw area is too vast I'll start out at where I think they'll come into the area which would be a path type area. Path, Draw and Structure. Food sources are the main thing that draw fish into an area. Areas where the bluecat can catch shad easily. Multiple sources of food are what I'm normally looking for when locating the fish. Birds sometimes help me out but not too often. when you see the Turns working an area hard for several hours that means there is some feeding going on and catfish are probably kickin some butt under the birds. Most of the time I'm looking for an area with a good source of forage fish and other things that'll draw a catfish into the area like vegetation and what not. I'm getting a sense of de ja vu after I typed that last sentence so this may be a reproduction of one of my other tips section articles. Anyhow, That's all I have to say about that.

Anyhow, catching fish requires you to be where the fish are. If you're not catching fish it's most likely because they're not there and no ungodly spectrum of prepared bait is going to change that. Spend your time locating the fish and not locating some new fangled sure fire concoction of bait because the best bait is already at your fishing hole. You just have to spend the time it takes to catch it and keep it alive. Once that's accomplished all there is left to do is locate the fish ... If you're fishing with fresh cut shad and not catching fish in under an hour then you're not in the right spot.

The main problem with changing to alternative baits is that the learning process is nullified to a certain extent. Here's a for instance, You're fishing with cut bait and prepared baits in one spot and you wait for hours and usually you've let the cut bait sit on the rod for several hours with the prepared baits getting hit by every fiddler in the neighborhood. It's a constant process of replacing the prepared baits and then finally after hours of catching nothing you finally catch one on the prepared baits that's a keeper. The rod with the cut bait on it has probably been reeled in a few times and the bait was still on it and thrown back out and the bait wasn't changed. Then eventually you catch another on the prepared baits and perhaps check the cut bait pole a few hours later then throw it right back out. The problem with that is that the cut bait probably lost it's effectiveness about an hour after it was thrown out or even 15 minutes if it was the hot part of the summer and now that bait has been on that rod for 8 to 10 hours or even more or perhaps changed once or twice all night. The score is now probably 3 on prepared baits and 0 on cut so now we assume the prepared baits are the key to the success of this night's fishing. I'm going to make a point, directly, but it's taking me a while to figure out how to explain it because it's kind of hard to explain since you're now thinking that the prepared baits saved the day when it actually dumbed down the learning process by taking the learning process completely away from you. You see, using alternative baits give you another variable into the equation of the feeding habits of the fish and also take your attention away from using real baits since you're fighting fiddlers all night and replacing the bait while you're letting the cut bait pole sit forever. This doesn't give you any insight as to the habits of the fish at all because you've thrown in several problems in your fishing technique when you using something that's gonna attract so many non-target fish keeping your mind off the cut bait rods when your focus should have been on the cut bait/live bait rods in the first place as that is what the fish you're after are wanting anyhow. The fiddlers want your prepared baits more so than the quality sized fish do as they've graduated to adult food, you might say. Fiddlers have to make a living just like the bigger fish do and their feeding habits are "eat anything that they can nip a little off of" They have to do this because they're too small to catch and eat live bait. They're seeking out the chicken livers, nightcrawlers and prepared baits. It gets worse too cause the more you use them in one spot the more it'll attract, just like flies to a rotting carcass. Then all of a sudden they shut off and nothing happens for hours and gradually start to come back and start pestering your prepared baits all over again. What happened was maybe a quality fish or two ventured into the area and when larger fish come into an area the small ones will leave. They'll hide out cause they're on the menu of the larger fish. Once the larger fish leave then the smaller ones will return to the food source they can consume which is prepared baits and the like. If you'd have noticed this halt in the fiddler action you could have put on some fresh cut bait and probably caught several larger fish.

Taking the prepared baits and alternative baits out of the equation does several things. It allows you to focus on what's important and not on replacing the prepared baits all night long. It allows you to focus more on fish habitat/structure/current/location and other scenarios that you normally wouldn't be focused on if you're sitting there messing with fiddlers all night. It allows the thought process to kick in because you know you're using what the fish make a living on and that's natural forage fish that they eat every day to survive. They have no problems with eating a fresh piece of cut bait at any time, anywhere, anyhow. But, the fish absolutely have to be there else you're not going to catch anything anyway. If you're keeping the bait fresh by changing it every 20 to 30 minutes and you're focusing on structure, contour  or current eddies or something of this nature then you're now focusing on what you should have been focusing on all along instead of just assuming the fish are always there and you just have to find what they're wanting and usually this fishing spot is just some camping area or maybe a deeper hole in a river channel or something where a person is just casting out over and over into the same spot instead of looking for an area that the fish may be attracted to. This also helps people get over the "wives tale baits" weird concoctions, WD40, Ivory Soap or any number of magic potions and rituals you may have heard about and lets you get out of the desperation mode when fishing and allows you to start catching decent fish and decent numbers of fish by focusing on the environment instead of some fabled magic wand that never seems to work very good but does do one thing in that it takes your attention away from what's important and that's the environment, habitat and weather conditions. Prepared baits or alternative baits are a distraction in other words. Kind of like someone sitting there rattling a bunch of cans on a string while you're trying to figure out a complicated mathematical equation. Once you kick that knothead's butt and take his cans from him you are then left with the ability to concentrate on the problem at hand.

I've been accused of being closed minded and statements like using alternative baits is diversifying and neither is correct in my opinion. I feel like diversification or being diversified is using different kinds of natural cut bait. I also think that the larger a fish gets his feeding preferences changes somewhat too. As they get larger it seems like they develop a taste for larger baitfish such as skipjack, small carp and buffalo. Most of the larger fish I've caught the last couple of years have been on cut buffalo or carp. We don't have many skipjack in Keystone. Cut bluegill has also worked pretty well on larger fish too. It's not really the size of the bait either cause when I use cut carp or cut buffalo the strip I use is about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch wide and about 2 inches long. They may however develop the taste for these due to the size though. I'm not sure what it is. As far as the prepared baits and stuff goes I'm not actually closed minded about them, I just don't need the distraction or the stink.

Once you've figured things out then you can start trying different scenarios where other baits like nightcrawlers/worms will work really well. I can tell you some of those here on this article. Also native worms work better than nightcrawlers if you're not located where nightcrawlers are naturally available like they are in the northern states and canada. Worms that you dig out of your own worm bed or garden will be about 75 to 80% better than nightcrawlers for catching catfish. It seems like it'd be the same but it's not. The areas and times that worms work best for catfishing is just after a rain when there's a fresh influx of worms, bugs and vegetation into the rivers making the water muddy. When it rains worms will come to the surface and as a result are swept into the creeks and rivers and the fish start feeding heavily on worms. Nightcrawlers work in this situation so if you don't want to dig worms it's perfectly okay to use nightcrawlers ... I'm just saying that regular native earthworms will probably work a lot better ... they always have for me. Flooded fields of grass or low lying hay or wheat fields that get flooded are really good places to use worms and you can sight fish these areas too ... watching for a swirl where a fish moved you can cast a worm right on the spot you see the fish swirl and more times than not the fish will pick it up almost instantly. It's really fun to fish like that when you can find a field flooded in such a manner. I used to do that over on cottonwood creek when the water would be about 2 ft deep across a field that the Oklahoma Dept of Wildlife planted feed grain for the ducks and other wildlife. When it'd get a foot or two of water on it I'd take my surf rods out and watch for fish and cast beyond where I seen one and then reel the floated rig back to where the swirl was and usually it'd hit just as soon as I'd stop the float or just a minute or so later. So if you have an area like this around you you might check that out. Worms also work well under a float fishing the rocks during prespawn when the water is murky/muddy. In clear water fishing like this you should use a different bait such as shad fillets or maybe even fresh shrimp. I quit using shrimp when I was a kid but others have said it works well fishing like that. The reason I don't use worms in clear water is because the bluegill and green sunfish will drive you crazy.


Insert Sep 16, 2005

if you're not catching catfish on shad then you're in the wrong spot ... you can't assume that the big cats are just anywhere you are ... they have preferences as to habitat and you'll probably need to figure out where they are instead of what they're biting on cause shad is probably the best bait there is for catfish. I wrote an article about this very thing a few weeks ago and it's on my tips section but it's down the page quite a ways on the prepared baits link ... the thing a lot of people do is go to a spot and automatically assume the fish are there and they just got to find out what they're biting on and if you're using fresh shad then you already have the bait they're biting on cause if there is a feeding fish anywhere in the area he'll pick the shad up ... use the shad heads instead of whole shad at night ... in clear water which I'm assuming the water is very clear where you're talking about you can use whole live shad during the day but I'd still have a rod or two set out with cut bait and I'd suspend the bait under a float too. if you're fishing deep they may not be able to be down deep due to oxygen depletion. fish tributaries that are coming into the lake and off points like where the tributaries come in there will be two points as a result of the tribs where the bank takes a hard angle from the main shape of the lake ... if you know where the humps are fish all over the humps ... shad and other forage fish like to hang out around these types of structure and that also draws catfish into those areas due to something to associate with other than just a flat bottom ... I think it gives them a sense of security. think of it like a prom dance where the kids are just entering puberty and no one is out on the dance floor ... they're all huddled around their friends in the corners and very reluctant to step out into the middle of the dance floor where everyone can see them with nothing obstructing their view so if a person was wanting to hook one of them kids they'd have to throw their line around the corners where the kids are huddled up instead of out in the middle of the dance floor.