"CATFISH LOVE RISING WATER, but WHY?" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton As a kid growing up in rural northeast Texas, I remember my dad watching the sky closely and when he thought a good, soaking rain resulting in run off into Pecan Creek was in the forecast, he and I seined bait; it was time to go catfishing! From a lifetime spent as a devout fisherman, he knew that rising water always puts catfish in the biting mode. I grew up knowing this fact and Ive put together my share of fish frys by targeting whiskerfish after periods of heavy rainfall. Much of the country was recently deluged by several inches of slow, steady rain, the kind that saturates the ground and causes creeks and rivers to go on a gradual rise. Most anyone that loves catfishing understands the equation of rising waters=good fishing, but many of us never stopped to wonder exactly why. The reason is pretty simple, says catfish guide Jason Barber from Cedar Creek Lake, situated about an hour southeast of Dallas. The rising water floods crayfish holes, causing this favored catfish food to surface and become swept into the current. Earthworms, grubs and all sorts of invertebrates are also made available to become part of the catfishes dinner. This rise in water level has the same effect on catfish bound to reservoirs. As the water level rises, a smorgasbord of food enters the water from newly flooded banks and catfish go on a big time bite. Photo courtesy of Luke Clayton. On a recent fishing trip with Barber, this fact became quite obvious. Cedar Creek Lake is fed by a few large creeks and after several inches of rainfall in the watersheds above the lake, the water in the creeks was, once again, on the move. Barber had been enjoying some great blue catfish action the 2 days after the rains. As Barber and I motored into the big flat out from the mouth of Kings Creek, a distinct mud line was visible but with a stiff south breeze, it was difficult to tell if the wave action coming from the creek was caused by wind, or current from run off. If we were fishing for white bass or hybrids, says Barber as he eased the anchor overboard, we would concentrate on the more clear water outside the mud line, but actively feeding catfish can be caught from the muddiest of water. It soon became obvious the current had ceased and the creek was once again still. The water was shallow, averaging 2-3 feet and without current, it was doubtful we would do very well fishing such shallow water, especially with a water temperature in the high seventies. The mark of a good fisherman is adapting to ever changing weather/water conditions and having a plan B. With all this fresh water, catfish will still be on a good bite, we will just have to go elsewhere to find them. tips Barber after about 15 minutes of unproductive fishing in the shallow water. The next time our anchor went overboard, we were in water around 15 feet deep, just out from a submerged roadbed. Its a good bet these shallow water fish I was catching just after the rains have moved deeper, look at all these fish stacking up along the edge of the roadbed, says Barber as he points to his graph which was all but blacked out from the hundreds of inverted Vs which we hoped were catfish. We soon had chunks of fresh cut shad near bottom on short Carolina rigs and it instantly became obvious Plan B was a good one! In a matter of a couple hours, we had the makings of a whopping fish fry in the ice chest. The catch consisted of several blues in the 6-10 pound range and some smaller fish. I lost the biggest fish of the day boatside because I thought I could lip it rather than use the landing net. Photo courtesy of Luke Clayton. Regardless of which waters you fish, a few iron clad rules of successfully catching catfish can be learned from this recent trip. Until cool fronts begin dropping water temperatures, usually in mid to late October, the majority of blue catfish will be landed from relatively deep water, 15 feet or deeper, with the exception of periods immediately following heavy rainfall when current causes them to move into flowing creeks and streams. Barber expects the dependable fall bite for blue catfish to begin by the end of October, after the passage of the first cold fronts of the season. During this period, drift fishing with large pieces of cut shad usually produces the best action. We often make drifts that cover as much as a couple miles of open water and boat blue regularly in the 20-40 pound range. added Barber. Until the colder weather triggers the trophy blue bite, devout catfish anglers will have to be content with numbers of eater blues. To my way of thinking, thats not a bad thing! Contact Cedar Creek Guide Jason Barber at www.kingscreekadventures.com or 903-603-2047 NEW FORMAT FOR OUTDOOR SHOWS- The internet has quickly becoming the go to source for information and, especially in the past couple years; entertainment. Texas native James Ferguson believes that in a few years, most shows will be watched via the internet. His outdoor show, BOWHUNTING NORTH AMERICA, is one of the first to be available online. Each week, Ferguson posts a new show on his site. This in house control keeps his shows current and informative. Go to www.bowhuntingnorthamerica.com and watch his current show on hunting Axis deer and wild hogs. The hunt took place one week ago and now, its available for viewing, awesome! Bookmark the site and stay tuned in to what I perceive to be some of the best and definitely the most current of outdoor viewing. ************************************************************************************* OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK- Younger rifle shooters are often sensitive to recoil. Did you ever consider training your young deer hunter with a muzzleloader? My youngest son began his hunting career shooting an inline muzzleloader and quickly learned rifle accuracy and good shooting form without the recoil of larger center fire calibers. By age 12, he was regularly taking deer and hogs out to 150 yards. Ive found that lighter charges of Pyrodex powder, around 70 grains, stabilize the rounds well and when shots are kept at 100 yards or less, provide plenty of punch to harvest deer size game. Youre your young shooter gains confidence and size, he or she can shoot the same rifle with a heavier charge. Thompson Center came out with a new 50 caliber muzzleloader, the Triumph Bone Collector, that is well balanced, lightweight and ideal for young and old shooters. Im currently training my three 11 year old grandsons with the rifle charged with 70 grains of powder and 225 grain TC Shock Wave Sabots. We will keep shots close this year, then step up the powder in a year or so and they will have a very good shooting 200 yard rifle that they are already familiar shooting. Muzzleloading safety, like all gun safety, is mostly common sense. With competent adult supervision, modern inline muzzleloader make excellent first guns and once shooting and safety skills are learned, often become a shooting sport that the hunter will enjoy all his life. LC Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc? Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com Contact Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org The BOC has a virtual library of Luke's stories right here on the forums; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!