Established patterns for blue catfish behavior (and location)

Discussion in 'Blue Catfishing' started by Blue Hawg, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. Blue Hawg

    Blue Hawg New Member

    Messages:
    19
    State:
    Decatur, Alabama
    I believe that I can catch more blues if I can become better able to locate blues. Therefore I want to learn about their seasonal behavior and feeding patterns and habits.

    How about you experts out there.... Will some of you step forward and tell us amateurs about some of your tried and true knowledge? Is there a specific fact about big blue cat behavior (location and feeding) that you have developed? I'm looking for tested and proven facts based on dozens of big fish, as opposed to speculation based on 5 or 6 fish.

    Open forum. Any subject on blues. What are you most sure about??? What has your experience taught you is an absolute fact?

    -Blue Hawg
     
  2. EricM

    EricM Active Member

    Messages:
    361
    State:
    Cleveland TN
    Steve, as you go through the posts, keep in mind that being absolutely sure of something has absolutely nothing to do with facts!:embarassed: We will give you what works for us, but places and circumstances are all different and what works consistantly for me and produces big fish might leave you cussing me for giving you bad advice.:crazy: So, before reading the beginning of each post imagine them saying "What works for me in my area is....,"

    That being said, I will put together a post to tell you what my qualifications(?):lol: are and what I have learned about catching BIG blues in my area. Good fishing and big fish!
     

  3. drc3

    drc3 New Member

    Messages:
    131
    State:
    Cleveland TN

    That time on the water will help you the most. I personally don't fish by pattern, I fish specific spots or "holes", Iv'e spent enough time on the water now that i have quite a few of them. Most of my spots are really good, it's just to bad they aren't good all the time:lol: . Sometimes these spots will be on fire (catching several 20-50lb fish in a day), they usually stay active from a few weeks to a few months and then nothing for a while. I'm not sure why the fish move out of these areas, but they do sooner or later. Luckily they always return, you just don't know when that will be. On days that are just slow at all my spots I will scout out new water using my map and electronics and giving them a "quick" fish and on to the next spot. Finding new fishing spots to add to my "arsenal" and ruling out "bad" water are my favorite thing's to do when fishing
     
  4. bluehunter

    bluehunter New Member

    Messages:
    3,004
    State:
    Los Angele
    I imagine that the tactics that are sucessful can vary between rivers and reservoirs. I mainly fish reservoirs in my area due to rivers not being close by. And the closest river which is the Colorado do not have Blue cats. In California the weather is mainly good thru the year which the exception of 3-4 months of cold weather in the winter. And normally during the day time during those months the weather can be moderate during the day unless it is raining. I rely a lot on my fishfinder. I do not necessarily look for fish, I look for areas that can hold fish like stumps, rocks, dropoffs, dredges, humps, etc. These are spots that I consider to be the feeding zones of catfish, kind of like how the kitchen is for us.


    What I have found to work out my way fishing lakes and reservoirs is that during the Summer time the blues can be found in shallow water like 8 to 25 feet around structure areas like stumps and trees. If there is a good baitfish flow around the area that can help as well. They do seem to be more active after dark more so than day time I have found eventhough you can get them in the day. I look for underwater dredges and dropoffs during this time. Also areas around humps. A good spot for me would be a 8 foot flat area that all of a sudden dips to 15 or more depth. Another good spot would be areas that is flat like at 10 feet and then dips to 20 feet than back up to 10 feet of water. I call this the dredge. I would fish these areas. Positioning my boat in the flat area and then casting to the dropoff.

    During the fall I have found that they go into a transition in which they go to deeper water. I have found them from 25 - 50 feet of water at this time. The baitfish flow also is a good indication of where they are at as well. Underwater structure is also key and drop offs and dredges. I tend to prefer fishing the dropoffs areas during this time or areas of flats close to deeper water as the cats zone in on teh flat areas at night to feed from deeper water.

    The winter time they are in deeper water at 40 plus depths I have found for the most part. I mainly strategize my trips in the winter to fishing during the rain or shortly after the rain for big blues. If I do go during the clear days which I do from time to time I fish for the blues during morning hours and evening hours as they seem to come out of there deep holes at these hours to look for food in shallower water. During the overcast days and raining days they tend to come shallower as well looking to feed especially if a good runoff is flowing into the water. They will be in those zone areas or nearby. I fish areas that are in close prximity to deep water like dropoffs and slopes in the winter time.


    As far as spring time goes, I normally do not fish for blues at this time as I am gong after crappie, flatheads, or some saltwater species at this time. But I do know that they are in a transition during this time and come into spawning mode in which they are coming into shallower water. An areas with a good gravel bottom or even sandy can be good areas where they tend to do their thing during the pre thru post spawn period.
     
  5. metalman

    metalman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,447
    State:
    IN
    Name:
    Winston
    What has your experience taught you is an absolute fact?

    Steve,
    I have fished almost my whole life and consider myself competent but the only absolute facts I know are:
    1. In fishing nothing is absolute.
    2. There is no substitute for time on the water.
    3. If you don't go you won't catch.
    Any synopsis of methods or tactics will be punctuated with terms like "normally", "most of the time", "usually", "for the most part", and "as a rule".
    As Eric says, anything and everything has to be qualified by the phrase "What works for me"
    If you spend enough time fishing different types of water in different types of weather at different times of the day during different seasons using different baits at at different depths etc., etc. you will build up a data base of experiences that will help you narrow the odds for catching on any given day but again I say nothing is absolute...W
     
  6. EricM

    EricM Active Member

    Messages:
    361
    State:
    Cleveland TN
    Steve, you have already heard from a few of the good fishermen on this site. I am familiar with DRC3 as we fish the same body of water (Chickamauga Reservoir on the Tennessee river) and he is quite consistant with the big blues.
    Location is everything. If you don't find good locations that the fish have reasons to be in (food, temperature, depth, current, structure, etc.) then you will not consistantly catch big fish. Top locations will hold big fish pretty much all year, with some variation from season to season.
    Specifics are difficult. I suspect that you fish an area similar to mine. I fish a deep river channel 55+ feet that rises quickly to about 25' and then tapers onto flats. I fish the edge of the channel from shallow to deep by controlled drifting with a trolling motor, about 1/2 the speed of the current. I use cut bait and bounce it down the slopes in short hops with a pause. The really active fish seem to be near the top of the channel edge and partway down. The fish at the bottom edge seem to hold tightly to some kind of break or structure that changes the current. I catch big blues in both locations, but I pause longer between hops where it's deeper. Look for stumps or rocks, old stream channels, partly collapsed channel edges, or any other change in the channel edge. This also holds true for the middle of the channel, but there are fewer variations unless you can find small holes or ridges.
    The other major item is food. Watch for the areas that regularly hold baitfish. You'd be amazed at how often I couldn't touch a blue until I fished right under and slightly downstream of a bait ball.
    The only ways to find those consistant locations are by spending time just looking and experimenting, or (and this is a good idea and a way to really shorten the learning curve) go with a good local guide a time or two. Tell him what it is you want to learn. If you put any $ value on your time and fishing enjoyment, it is a terrific investment.
    Hope this helps. Good fishing!
     
  7. EricM

    EricM Active Member

    Messages:
    361
    State:
    Cleveland TN
    One other specific. When I am really hunting for ONLY big blues, I supersize my bait. I will use 1/3 to 1/2 of a fairly large skipjack or gizzard shad or a huge hunk of redhorse sucker (on a hook to match the bait size). I' don't believe that it is necessary to catch big fish, but what it does do is keep all of the smaller fish from taking the bait before it gets to the bigger fish. You will still get taps and pick-ups by fish that can't handle the bait (under 15-20 lbs), but they will drop it and you will quickly learn to distinguish this from a big fish actually taking the bait. I do think the larger bait is more attractive, but I have caught a lot of big blues on 3" shad and pieces of bluegill. I just had to sort through a lot of small fish!
    Good fishing and big fish!
     
  8. TIM HAGAN

    TIM HAGAN New Member

    Messages:
    1,236
    State:
    Walkersvil
    Well it will have to do with where you fish river or lake and if it is tidal waters or not. I always start looking for fish get off the flats or coves and right on the upper edge of the drop offs. The waters I guide on are tidal waters so the fish are always moving.I have done very well with a starting point at 15 to 25 feet always watching for bait fish. If you find the bait fish you will almost always find blues. It maybe in 2 feet of water on the flats or back end of the coves back if they are feeding they will be around the baitfish.

    If I mark big fish in a channel I will set up on them 45 mins tops if they are feeding you will get one by then. If not I move up to lower waters maybe the top edge of that channel when they are ready to feed they will mostly move up the drop off to feed.
     
  9. drc3

    drc3 New Member

    Messages:
    131
    State:
    Cleveland TN
    That's probably the best advise you could get right there, IMO. Iv'e catfished as long as I can remember, but not as a boater until about 4yrs ago. Up until then it was mostly ponds unless a friend let me tag along. Getting a boat opened up a whole new world to me.... unfortunatly I was completly lost, I had no idea where to start on such a huge river (TN River)/ chain of lakes. I came to the conclusion that I could either spend years learning on my own from trial & error OR hire a good guide and learn everything I could.
    At that time there wasn't a cat guide on my lake so I had to hire a guy on the next lake up the river(WattsBar), he had a topo map and let me use it and showed me everywhere we fished. He also explained why we were fishing those areas. He showed me how and where to catch bait (skipjack), how to rig and hook the bait, how to mark fish on electronics and set-up on them and everything else I needed to know. I paid for 8hrs of fishing so you can bet I left no questions unasked and he was more than willing to awnser them as best he could.
    I took all the info I learned from him on that lake and applied them to my lake (the two lakes are fairly similar) and the results were great. I started catching more and bigger fish than I ever had before, it's definatly $$$ well spent.

    P.S. for those of you that like to do it the hard way and learn on their own, more power to ya:roll_eyes:
     
  10. loki1982

    loki1982 New Member

    Messages:
    420
    State:
    Texas
    I definitely wouldnt clal my self and expert but here is my take on. Ill start with summer..in relation to Texas(and other hot states)

    Summer time the water is hot, the thermacline is present, and fish are fairly predictable. The fish want to be in cool water which is deeper but can only be so deep before they hit the thermacline where oxgyen is too low to survive. It seems that 15-20 feet is about where the thermacline is. This means you want to fish either in 20 foot or shallower water, or you want to fish in deep water but fish off the bottom so that you dont go below the thermacline. I seem to do best is 25-30 foot of water fishing 8-15 foot down. Another good spot can be the feeder creeks if they are running as the moving water will create more oxygen.

    We then moe into Fall. The water start to cool down. The fish move deeper, and in some(most?) lakes the shad kill starts. Target deeper area where alot of baitfish can be found. Late fall the shad kill is in full swing, shad get harder to find and the blues are gorging themselves. Target deep channels.

    Winter the fish should all be in deep spots, mostly channels.

    Late Winter/Spring the water begins to warm up, catfish move into shallower water including very shallow(1-2 foot sometimes). Can usually catch fish at just about any depth.

    That is my personal experience and what ive gained in my adventures. In cooler states it will be different. Every lake seems to have its own characteristics as well.