A Guide to Non-Typical Catfish Fishing Techniques Part III
The second method that works really well for me is drift fishing. Lets start by explaining how drifting works. It's really pretty simple: you cast out bait and drag it behind or from the side of your boat while the wind pushes you along.
Where to Fish
The majority of Cat-men that I know all use the same rig, although their tackle will differ from one guy to the next. Whatever tackle they use, they are all dragging some kind of bait on the bottom. The big difference between most drifters and myself, however, is that I usually do not drift in water any shallower than 30 feet deep while most others like to fish much shallower, such as 10-20 feet deep.
The shallow waters of most lakes contain a few big fish and lots of little ones resulting in lots of action, but not too many that will test your string. I have said before that Blue Cats can and will live and feed in deep water. My best day of drifting, as far as numbers of fish weighing between 3-20 lbs. goes, occurred last December. In one drift I caught and released 47 Blue Cats. These fish all came off of a huge flat that runs parallel to the main river channel with an average depth of 45 ft. Its surface has a few small humps and a couple of old ditches running across it. People drive by me and look in disbelief when they see me drifting in 30 to 50 ft of water, but when that fish locator shows big fish marks on the bottom at those kind of depths I have a pretty good idea of what's down there.
Not all lakes are as easy to drift: some have gobs of timber and some have tons of rock on the bottom. The best lakes I have found have had some silting or massive mud flats that were old fields at one time. Simple structures like old ditches that carve across mud flats give Blue Cats a place to ambush their prey and might give them a little relief in the water column when the water is at its coldest or warmest. Look at these flats from different angles and ask yourself, "How does the bank look?" Could the surface under the water look similar to the structures above the water? Chances are that it will be pretty close.
These ideas are not really new. Bass and Walleye fishermen all over the U.S. use land structures to locate their fish and when it comes to locating these structures, fish locators are very valuable tools. My opinion is that you get what you pay for with electronics, but if you can find shad or baitfish with your locator as well as see the big fish marks, that's all you need.
Catchin' the Big Cats
The speed of your drift makes a huge difference. A good rule to follow is 'the colder the water, the slower you should go.' A big Blue Cat will not want to chase bait that's traveling fast in cold water, so when you are dragging bait on the bottom you should use some kind of drift sock or sea anchor. You might have to experiment with different sizes until you figure out what size slows your boat down. Manufacturers of drift socks will usually give you an estimate of the size of sock compared to the size of the boat you are using.
Furthermore, just because you are a Cat-fisherman, it doesn't mean you can't use the tools other fishermen use. Experiment with different hooks, weights, line, rods and reels, but my advice would be to eventually work your way into having an exactly matched set of at least 4 rods and reels. When you learn what works for you, you will be much happier with a matching set of gear. Having your gear match might not sound like much, but when you start catching Blue Cats over 20 lbs you'll know the limitations of your tackle. Furthermore, you wont have to worry every time you set a hook about which rod the fish hit because they will all perform the same.
Get some good gear capable of handling big fish. Get your tools so you can go out and learn your lake. Spend time learning your water before you start to fish. If you can't or don't want to spend the amount of money necessary to purchase all the equipment and cover all the various expenses, don't be afraid to take guided trips. You'll have good company from someone who knows the lake well and can teach you a great deal, plus it takes A LOT of guided trips to add up to the cost of equipping yourself.
Don't be afraid to experiment with new tactics after you start fishing. Always remember: Blue Cats are Blue Cats, they don't know what lake they're in or where they live. They will behave the same where I fish or where you fish. If you'd like, I can actually travel to your lake to prove it, as well as show you what a professional guide would do on your lake or river. Always keep your eyes on your fish finder, and get out there and try some non-typical Catfishing!
If you missed either of the first 2 parts of this article, head to this URL for the complete article: http://www.ozark-lodges-fishing-trips.com/nontypical-catfishing.htm
Copyright © 2002-2005 Jeff Williams
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Jeff Williams runs a Truman Lake Hybrid Bass and Lake of the Ozarks Catfish Fishing Guide Service offering lodging and guided trips in Missouri. To book a trip, learn more tips, or find out how Capt. Jeff would fish your own local waters, call 1-866-HOOKSET or visit http://www.ozark-lodges-fishing-trips.com today!
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