Drifting for Catfish in a Lake

Discussion in 'Catfishing Library' started by Whistler, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Original post made by Jim Gilbert(Drifter) on March 31, 2002

    I have caught blues in 55' of water drifting. If that's where they are, no reason it should not work.

    I've covered the boat rig, I've covered the rod/reel/line rig. Now the hard part -- where to fish. This will be a bit "non exact". You all know as well as I do that we can't always think like a catfish and sometimes (no matter how hard we think or what we do) we get skunked.

    There was a really old book written by a man (I believe Buck Perry) who is now often referred to as the father of structure fishing. His "proven" theory was that structure serves multiple purposes for fish. One of those purposes is "highways". They are much like rats -- turn a rat loose in a house and he WILL NOT take the same path you do throught he house, he will hug the walls using them for guidance. Catfish are similar (according to Buck) they may spend a lot of time in deep water channels, but when they move off to feed they use structure to get them there.

    So, when you say you are going to drift the flats, you need to take that plan a step further. You are probably drifting the flats because you know the blues will foriage the flats for food -- what you also need to examine is how do they get to the flats from nearby deep water. What you are trying to do is drift the length of these "highways" or the flats right next to the "Highways".

    -- You cant decide where to fish until you get there and check the wind, cause you have to use it to drift you along the "highways" and flats in the right directon.

    -- Highways can be any long structure that the fish can use to get they to the food from deep water; road beds, ANY kind of a ridge (drop off) steep or slight, small submerged creek channels, etc. etc. I hope you got that picture.

    -- If the food source is abundant and happy suspended at 18 foot, then you need to be drifting the types of area mentioned above, but make sure they are arond 22-27 foot deep. If you have shad schools suspended and happy in deep open water (say suspended at 30' in 50' of water), then you should be drifting that area.

    I think this "may" not be the most productive way to catch channel cats -- I am targeting large blues. However, if the lake you are fishing has virtually no standing or submerged timber it may work well for channels -- you'll have to experiment. The reason I mentioned standing and submerged timber is because one of the lakes I fish has few blues but lots of channel cats and I target them my baiting holes in timber. BUT, AT LEAST TRY THE DRIFT WAY TO SEE IF IT WORKS ON YOUR LAKE.

    Your rods and reels sound fine and you may get away with the 14# line for channel cats -- if you do stumble across a big blue (or God forbid a big flathead) you might be in trouble. I mention big flathead because this same drift rig (with live bait) can be used drift fishing at night for flatheads in open lakes.

    The weight does not really bottom bump -- since the rig is far behind the boat, it just drags along while the float keeps the bait at target position just off the bottom.

    I don't use circle hooks any more, but did use I believe a 12/0 circle (big). I now use #2 Whisker Stickers. The cork is as it appears -- cheap, syrofoam float 3" long. The weight is a 1 to 1 1/2 oz slinky weight as I call it.

    I allways consider the natural food sources of the area I'm fishing. But then (usually on my first drift) I'll fish with two different baits (say whole shad with the tail cut off at the guts and some fillet strips of large shad or buffalo). After I get a feel for what they prefer that day, I'll switch to just that bait.

    Believe it or not I have foud (many times) that putting 2 small cut shad on a hook is preferred to a single bait -- go figure.

    As far as the drift sock, mine is not that far behind the boat -- say 10' tops.

    I covered the boat part of drifting, plus a few other items; so I have time now to move to the rod/reel/rigging. I'll leave the reel choice to your preference, but I really believe you will want to use a solid baitcast reel with minimum of 30# line. The rod needs to somewhat stiff, if not it will be bent all the time from draggin a weight across the lake bottom. Remember you will be draggin the bait a good ways behing the boat.

    Now, what I call the secret to drift fishin for blues: Look at the image of the rigging below. It is designed to accomplish 3 things:
    1) Virtually snag free
    2) Slip weight (just above a swivel) to soften the feel to the fish and prevent line twists.
    3) As you drag the weight across the bottom, the float holds the bait up off the bottom a foot or so. You don't drag the bait to death and it holds the bait right up there at the level blue cats roam the bottom.