A New “Spin” For Cats

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Whistler, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    A New “Spin” For Cats

    Luke Clayton​

    We all know what’s been said about teaching an old dog new tricks. Well, I’m here to tell you it CAN be done! After a day of fishing a couple of the backwoods lakes at the Big Woods south of Dallas, using some state of the art spinning equipment with my friend Phil McClain, this old dog definitely was exposed to a new way of catching catfish that I liked very much.

    I, like many folks that fish for catfish, tend to be a big heavy-handed when it comes to landing over favored species. By “heavy-handed”, I’m referring to the heavy tackle we often use. Granted, there’s certainly a place for big, strong reels and rods that can serve double duty with pole vaulters but for many situations, spinning tackle and strong but lighter rods will help put more catfish in the boat.

    Photo By Luke Clayton

    “Finesse” fishing came to the forefront in the bass fishing world several years ago. Many of the older pros learned that to remain competitive, they needed to add lighter tackle techniques to their fish catching bag of tricks. Why should some of the same basic concepts not work well for catching catfish, especially during times when the bite is subtle? My recent fishing trip is a good example of just how effective the use of the right kind of lighter tackle can be for catching catfish.

    It’s not difficult to find good catfishing waters at the Big Woods on The Trinity (www.bigwoods.net). The Trinity River defines one of the property boundaries, Catfish Creek the other. Between these two water courses lies several small lakes that are chock full of channel catfish. There are even some monster blues in the lakes that were transplanted from the river and creeks during spring floods. Several weeks before our trip, McClain had been telling me about a new line of spinning reel that has become a hot item on the Texas coast for catching big redfish. Our pre-trip telephone conservation went something like this: “Luke, these reels are made by U.S. Reel (www.usreel.com) and they are designed totally differently from any spinning reel you have used. Most spinning reels have a long, slender spool that inherently causes line twists and casting problems. These reels have very wide diameter spools that are much shorter than the spools on conventional spinning reels. They cast like a dream and the defined “edge” of the spool makes feathering the line with ones thumb very easy. This greatly aids in precise casting.”

    The day we chose to fish was late winter and the water temperature was still in the 50’s. Having fished the lakes at Big Woods many times, I chose my favorite little lake, nicknamed Moonshine. Every geographical landmark at the Big Woods, including the roads, has a name. Signs identifying many of the roads can be seen with names such as “Bubba’s Fence Jumping Road”, “No Stinkin’ Hog Avenue” or “Lois Lane”, named for the owner, Dr. Mcfarlane’s aunt, Lois.

    As Phil and I eased the boat away from the bank at “Moonshine Lake”, I flipped the trolling motor on high and fought the wind to a spot on the lower lake that always holds catfish in abundance. Conditions were less than ideal, but I knew the lake was loaded with catfish and felt comfortable we would have a good trip. There’s an old oak tree that’s still standing in water 12 feet deep that’s a real honey hole for Mr. Whiskers. A shallow flat on one side of the tree and a gentle ledge falling away to the deeper water closer to the dam makes this a classic catfish hotspot. Channel catfish love to hang around all this submerged cover, often right on the ledge. The spot has an abrupt change in bottom AND heavy brush-two things that attract catfish, and the bait fish they depend upon for food, throughout the year.

    Phil had a couple of spinning rods rigged with the Supercaster 230 XL reels, both were spooled with the new super braided line, 20 pound test that is about the diameter of 6 pound test mono. I had one of my old standby rigs with 25 pound test mono and gears that were strong enough to tow an ATV out of a mud hole; this rig was anything but “sensitive” but I knew when I did get the hook set on a big catfish, I could heave him out of the heavy cover. The problem was, after thirty minutes of fishing with my heavy duty tackle, I had yet to detect the subtle bite of even one catfish while my buddy was enjoying success with his lighter rig. Probably because of the cold water, the channels we were fishing for were picking at our offerings of Danny Kings Catfish Punch bait more the way a perch picks at a cricket than what one would expect from a big heavy shouldered catfish. The drag on the Supercaster and the steady pressure kept on the 7 foot rods worked their magic on the catfish up around 6 pounds. I switched to the lighter rig and was able to easily detect strikes from fish that were just “pecking” at the baits. At the end of our day, my buddy had caught twice the number of fish as I, but I tried to saved face with a statement something like “I could have easily tied you if I would have switched to the spinning rig earlier in the trip”! The truth of the matter, Mr. McClain is a pretty darned good fishermen and your old editor here has probably spent way too much time on the computer and in the woods hunting and not enough time fishing this past winter!

    I vowed to save face on our return “bout” to the Big Woods. One thing is for sure, I will be packing my new spinning rig, I’ve seen this new reel in action and I am a believer. I don’t plan to give up my heavy tackle for times when the fish are on a very aggressive bite and the cover heavy. I do plan to take a cue from the bass fishing crowd and become a multiple threat by varying the tools I use to go after my favored species.

    Listen to Luke Clayton’s Outdoors radio show at www.catfishradio.com