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Fall and winter cat'n

1695 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  catfishcentral
Hey guys,
With fall and winter coming, and not being experienced with catfishing in that time period, I have a couple questions. Do you have to wait the fish out more than during the summer, alot of long days with very few bites? And what do you do for bait. I'm going to freeze some shad but what about live bait for flatheads. The answer to that is probably a good bait well but I wanted to see what you guys do. One more thing, are you able to catch shad in cooler water when you can't see them on the surface?
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Hey man Im originally from NW Indiana and for fall and winter cattin i would generally travel up north to Saugatuck Mi. and fish this area called Best Chance Harbor..They do a lot of salmon charters at that time. Anyway, in the fall, the shad and menhadden(they probably call them alewife) are all over the place. if there are any warm water discharges around you, you can throw a cast net all winter. I dont know if u r in northern or southern Illinois. But i used to fish the illinois river, Fox river,Kankakee river...especially for fall cats. And the bite was always better and bigger using cut bait. (even frozen shad work in the kankakee for bigger channels) I dont know if u know what chubs are, but they are prime for big cats( thats the only bait ive ever frozen and still caught flathead on). Anyway you can catch chubs in the fall and winter in any creeks especially under highway bridges. Just use a number 6 hook and a piece of nightcrawler and fish in the deeper lookin holes. I used to be a bait wholesaler in Indiana and I'd seine the ditches(creeks) even in the winter (if it wasnt frozen over) and always got chubs. They will stay alive for a good while as they are pretty hardy. These ditches will also hold bream which u can use if it is still legal in that state. All in all, i think the consistant consensus will be that the fishing for cats gets better either by size or by numbers in the fall. As for catching bait, you cant beat roadside ditches(creeks) if you dont have a castnet or if shad arent abundant in you area.
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As far as channels are concerned I live for the months of september through november. LOL! They move around alot more forageing for food. And the predictability of where they are gonna be at certain times rises. For example when that sun comes up and warms them shallows. Be there cause they will be. LOL! As far as bait is concerned I use frozen mackeral,eels,shiners,minnows and blue gills that I store up for these months. Can't wait for that water temp to start droppin. LOL!
Hey catfishn50, i noticed you're in NJ...I have to take the wife to Nework, (Rutgers U?) in late sept. You dont happen to know where i can sink a shad from the bank do u? I might not get a chance to fish, but just in case....thx in advance
I only give each spot 30 min. A little longer if I have landed a fish there. To keep my bait alive I either catch it out on the river when I'm fishing. Or I take it from my 300 gal. stock tank. Before winter I'll probably go out and stock up on some nice 6"-9" shad or bigger if i can get them. I have never tried catching shad in the winter time but hoping that I can get some still. I just feel the frozen shad is not as good of bait.

Shad get pretty scarce in the winter. I would stock up before too late in the season, I kind of missed the boat last year, and didn't save enough. This winter I'm gonna focus on catching goldeye, though. I started catching them in March this year, I didn't try before that. I'm guessing that they are out for the taking any time the river is clear of ice.

I kept sunfish pretty much all winter (thanks to McFlat for resupplying me in January), but they didn't produce a single bite in the cold months. Smaller pieces of cut bait seem to be the ticket when the water is cold.
If you have a boat you can still catch shad just sometimes a little harder to find. If your strictly fishing from shore stock up. GaryF is right in saying size down your bait size. Smaller shad 2 to 3 inches or small cutbait will produce much better results in the winter. Good Luck.
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