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Discussion in 'Blue Catfishing' started by JimF, Feb 14, 2006.
O.K. Lets hear your favorite tactics for cold water river cats. Bait? structure? depth?
I use two kinds of bait Skipjacks and Shad, I prefer as big as I can get couple of pounds each the bigger the better, target drop-offs and ledges, current edges and eddys, bargecells and full barges, I like to anchor in front of them and roll the baits just under the nose of the full barge, feel fish use them as structure points on the Ohio River, outside bends in the river anywhere there is current so I can get a scent trail going, if the river is up high and roaring then I like to target the inside of the outside bends, that is where the slower water will congregate, I'll also look at tributary's that dump into the Ohio but I target them only when there is water flowing out into the Ohio from them, spent a lot of time anchored up on them when no water is flowing with little or no results.........Doc
I use the same tactics and same bait as i would in thew summer.Only difference is i target holes more and find a bunch of smaller channels stacked up in there,2-9 pound size.
plan on targeting my summer spots more as i feel the bigger channels are not stacked up with the smaller ones.Think the bigguns are off on their own.
They bump bump bump bump much more in colder water,thats pretty much only real difference i notice cold water fishin fer channels.
excellent question! I am finding them harder to find consistantly. I am putting out short trot lines(5-10 hooks) to try to find them. Week before last I had a couple of good sized kitty's on one line. Put out a 25 hook line in same area and have caught nothing but dinks under a lb since. I am going to move some hooks around to see what happens.
I found that weather affects more in the winter than summer. Any body else think so? I am open for ideas.
I would like to wish you good luck on your winter time adventures. I have personally experienced zero luck in the cold winter months of nov/feb. I look to holes when I do try and we have a gravel pit that runs into the river at a hot spot. I think I will hit that as they begin there search for food and are moving out of the gravel pit into the river.
Me and Rivercat1 have been fishing the Illinois River sinces mid Jan. We have had our best luck in deep holes in 15-20ft, also around the dam and the hot water discharge. we cought most of our fish on red worms and shad guts.
I've only been a few times cold water fishing for blues and I can say I have better luck in the winter than in the summer for big fish. 40 to 90 foot holes with big chuncks of shad.
I use cut shad in winter time. As well, I usually will use much smaller bait presentations in winter time, as the Blues are not near as aggressive and the bite is much more subtle. I try and target plant steam discharges as the blues tend to congregate down below these areas. If thats not producing I can usually get some fish off the deep holes downstream from the wing dykes. For me, I usually catch my biggest fish in August. I'm taking the entire month of August off this year, with the goal of fishing 20 days of it. I dont know what it is about August, but its been great for me. 95, 60, 47, 46, 40, 40, dozens of 30 somethings etc. All in August. I wish I could find the big fish in winter time, but havnt yet. I know alot of folks do. I can honestly say I dont spend near as much time on the river during winter, and that probably has alot to do with it.
John, I think your the first person I've ever heard say that their bluecat fishing is best in August. Around here by August is sooo dang hot and we haven't had any rain for good current. It seems like the turtles and gar are in full force also. Are you fishing mainly at night or in the daytime also. Current I'm sure is almost always present on the mississippi compared to the smaller rivers that I fish. I'm just wondering what your late summer tactics are
Does the Keer Res qualify as a river being that is a lock and dam situation? I know when we go down there we fish several places that we have had good luck fishing the last several years. One place is a bend in the river channel that the blues stack up in in winter and several places also that the depth is between 10 and 20 ft and shallower too. I have also saw places that you motor in and if you are running fish out of the shallow water you need to shut down and fish it. Kinda cool seeing torpedos across the water and later hooking said torpedos.
fish slow and deep in the winter
Cold weather has been the only time I can consistently find big Blues. I have taken them from 9-29 pounds this month. All have been while anchoring in shallow area directly next to deeper holes. The good bites have all come before 9:30am, after that things seem to slow a lot.
An observation that I have made in reservoirs is that the blues tend to be deeper in the winter time. During the early mornings and late evenings they tend to come in a little closer to the bank to feed but in areas that is close to deep drop offs. I have hooked up some while anchoring in 10 feet of water and casting into 60 foot depths during the day time. While I have also hook up on some in about 30 feet of water that is near a gradual decline in depth to about 60-70 feet. You definitely want to find the areas that is close to deep drop offs or deep holes. Underwater structure also in key in those depths as well. In the winter time when it rains that is a good time to go shallow as they are cruising those areas near deep dropoffs in search of food especially around runs offs. This can be one of the best times to fish all season long. Lots of big blues come out to play in the winter time.
Wylie, maybe that's why I haven't had much luck this winter. I've been waiting till it warmed up a little bit, around 9 or 10 am. Figures the fish wouldn't have sense enough to wait till the chill was out of the morning...
i guess thats where i been messin up. i have been waitin for the weather to be right for me.
what about drifting the deepest part of the river real slow?
Good question Chris. I dont know what it is about late summer either. Its phenomenal for me though. I primarily fish the Mississippi River anywhere from 10 to 40 miles south. I often make 20 mile runs with my boat to go to productive spots. My summer time presentations are usually cut Shad or cut Asian Big Head Carps. I use extremely large presentations, cutting the baits into strips appx 8-12 inches long and 2 inches wide or so. I use size 9 Gamagatsu Circles and hook the bait in the very end of these strips as I want the cut bait to mimick a severely injured bait fish. Its absolutely critical you dont ball the bait up on the those circles. Two reasons...1. you'll miss alot of fish. 2. The Big Blues wont fall for it. I use a basic carolina rig with 2 ounces of weight, and target current eddy's off of the end of the wing dykes. I like to position my baits on the slack side of the eddy's. You are correct, I am always fishing current in August. There is always quite a bit of current on the Miss, even with low water conditions. I differ from alot of other catsters on here with the weight I use. I see alot of the Miss guys use tremendous amounts of weight to hold their baits on the bottom. I prefer my bait to move around in the current, and dont want it on the bottom at all. I want it dancing in the current. Those Blues are open water swimmers, and when they are feeding, they can be found any where in the water column. Doesnt mean it works for everyone, but sure works for me. The other thing I've noticed, those Big Blues feel that big weight and they will drop the bait. They didnt get that big being dumb. Another favorite summer time spot for me is to target humps that form out in the channel of the river do to the silt deposits downstream from the dykes. I've found the big blues will hold in 15 feet of water on these humps and ambush the shad that are using the humps for cover. My best fishing is from around 4 in the afternoon to midnight on those late summer days. If I stay out all night, I'll try and move to some flats where the fish will be aggressively feeding until morning where they will move back to the deeper water. I hope I've helped a little. Good Luck with those Blues.
Thanks for the reply and your insights there John. I also don't like keeping my bait at the bottom. When I'm using a carolina rig I've been really increasing the lenght of my leaders. I've been making four to five foot leaders and notice more bites. After all the years of jugfishing with baits at three, six or nine feet in the water you learn pretty quickly that those blues are not bottom dwelling fish. They will follow wherever the bait is and usually in midday shad can been concentrated in the middle of the water column following the plankton. I'll change rigging sometimes at night to large slip rigs and fish as shallow as two or three feet down also. Seems the plankton will run closer to the surface so the shad will follow and in turn the blues do also.
Sounds like you have a really good handle on things Chris. One thing you might try is to shrink your leader size considerably to 18 inches or so, and use less weight. This will lead to less snag ups, and a better indication of the bites you are receiving. With a long leader, the fish has alot of leeway and can do alot with your bait, without you even knowing it. Best Of luck to you. I know August can be a B&%$#h to fish with the bugs and all, but it can be a great time to catch some real pigs. I really think the Big Blues go on a Binge in late summer to prepare for the winter and cold water conditions. To deal with the bugs, I use the strongest DEET products I can buy, and keep my lanterns 15 feet or so from where I'm sitting in the boat, and that really knocks them down. I dont have any problems sitting on that river in the evenings. Im planning on hitting the river really hard this spring, and hope I can put a few whoppers in the boat. I know they catch alot of big ones this time of year. Good luck to you down there in the Sooner State.
Deep, rocky bottoms. Skipjack. Anchor or drift.