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.