Large Reservoir Blue Catfish

Discussion in 'Outdoor Articles' started by Katmaster Jr., Feb 19, 2006.

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  1. Katmaster Jr.

    Katmaster Jr. New Member

    Wilmington, NC
    Large Reservoir Blue Cats

    I have now been fishing a Large Reservoir for about 4 years. I have gone fishing at least once a month throughout out the whole year since I started fishing it. I have picked up many tips and tricks, and have learned many habits of the Blue cat's and Stripers in the lake. There are allot of creeks that feed into Gaston Lake which is the reservoir I am speaking of. There are two Dams on the lake, One at the upper end of the lake named "Kerr Dam" which lets water into the lake, then there is what is known as "Gaston Dam" which is on the lower end of the lake and lets water out of the lake. The fish patterns change dramatically with the change of the seasons.

    Let's start with winter:

    Fishing in the winter can be pretty tough, but at times very rewarding. Us being on the bank mostly, and most of the lake having private land makes it even harder for us. I have noticed that in the winter most of the fish come down to the lower end of the lake especially around the mouth of creeks at the lower end of the lake. I think this is because they don’t like the very cold current coming from the dam at the upper end of the lake. Because that dam draws water off the bottom of the lake above the one I fish. The blue's and stripers will often run together chasing shad schools around. Look for the seagulls! Luckily we have them to help us spot feeding fish. Sometimes you might get lucky enough to have a warm winter rain in the creeks, if so get out there because the fish should be biting! If the creeks on your reservoir have bridges than when it rains there should be some warm water current flowing threw the bridges, which is normally good fishing. If they don’t have bridges try to get access to the mouth of the creek, usually the blues and stripers will be feeding heavily at the mouth of the creeks at sunrise and sundown. Most likely because most of the baitfish swim into the creeks at night, and of course allot of the predators follow.


    Now, sometimes in the winter it can get brutally cold! That's when the fish will USUALLY go deep, not always though. When or if the water temp gets very cold, let's say below about 35* Fahrenheit which is pretty cold for around here, the fish seem to get very schooled up. This can work in your advantage if you can manage to find the schooled up fish, which is mostly a matter of reading the water, and if your fortunate enough to have a boat, use a fishfinder. The best spot I have found when it gets brutally cold is to fish around Gaston Dam which is on the lower end of the lake, it has the deepest water in the lake and most of the area is around 60-90 ft deep. Also look for the channels and fish in them and on the edge of them for that is a good technique for practically ever season and time of they year.

    Ok, now we have spring:

    This is the favorite time of alot of the Catfisherman around here. The Blue's make a massive spring spawning run in the spring and it gets pretty easy to catch them! Most of them migrate in a massive school up to the upper end of the lake and go up to the Dam. Alot of times the smaller blues will feed better in the day time when they are running water at the dam, but I have noticed a secret that alot of people that fish there don’t seem to know. The real big blues like over 30-40 lbs seem to bite best in the middle of the night! And they really like big bait! Now, there is also a large number of blue's that don’t swim upstream to the upper end of the lake. There are alot that swim into the back of the feeder creeks to spawn.

    I have caught many big blues in about 4-5ft of water in the spring. Most of the bait also swims in the creeks in the spring; a net load of shad and herring is not uncommon on spring nights throwing the cast net off the creek bridges.

    Something else I have noticed about the spring is that using a "Slip Bobber" can be a very affective method. And again, if there are feeding stripers there are probably blue cats nearby, this is something I have noticed for almost all times of the year. Also I have noticed that in the LATE Spring, eels seem to make excellent bait. There are many methods for catching blues in the spring, I could go on, and on, but I don’t think it would really be necessary due to the spring is not a hard time at all to catch cats around here. Many big blues are even caught by bass fisherman throwing live minnows around riprap in the creeks! A bass fisherman caught a 51lb Blue last spring doing that, and it's not really that uncommon for the spring. Now I am not saying you should specifically target catfish using that method.


    Ok, then we have the summer:

    This is a pretty hard time of the year to catch big blues. Reason I say that is because this is a huge reservoir and in the summer they just randomly roam around in the open lake and are very spread out. Although usually they will bite great if you find them, because with the warmer water they have higher metabolism. Best bet for the summer seems to be fishing the creeks and main lake channel EDGES at NIGHT! Another thing that makes the Summer hard for me is that the fish suspend usually in the thermocline, which is a layer of the water that has more oxygen and has cooler water than the rest of the depths. If you do manage to find the thermocline then use a slip bobber to suspend your baits in the thermocline. And there is still no guarantee they will be biting, that goes for all the time and seasons though. I have noticed that even the baitfish are pretty spread out in the summer, of course that makes it even more difficult!

    Alot of people ask "In the summer which is better, deep or shallow?" and of course in my opinion there is no specific correct answer to that. Conditions change, as far as weather and barometer changes and with those changes the fish will change also. The only thing I can really tell you about that is that if you are fishing in the summer in the day time especially in the middle of the day then you should be fish deep water for sure! It's best to try to avoid day fishing in the summer, the night fishing seems to be alot better. I am not saying you cant catch cats in the daytime in the summer, you always COULD catch a cat at almost anytime. And when I say daytime I dont mean early morning, like right before or during sunrise the fishing can be great! Or when the sun is going down the fishing can be awesome! In fact I have noticed they seem to bite great during sunrise and sundown during all seasons! My theory on that is that they are migrating to the creeks and shallower water around those times and while there on the move you can sort of "Ambush" them.


    Ok, now for my favorite time of year for fishing: the fall!

    This seems to be the best time for a trophy blue on the lake I fish, the shad school up big time in the creeks, the big blues start feeding to get ready for the harder times in the winter, and if you know the right spots you will almost for sure get into some great fish and make memories that will last for a lifetime! In the fall, the fish will go very shallow, like in the spring kinda. They will go right up against the bank and they will bite like crazy! They can be found at nearly all depths at this time of year. There is not really a "Best" depth or anything.

    I have caught them in 5ft of water, and I have caught them in 60+ft of water. They will also swim up to the Dam at the upper end of the lake, I believe this has something to do with the fact that ALOT of white perch swim up there and I think the cats feed on the white perch up there at the dam. Again they seem to bite best at the dam in the middle of the night when they water is not running.

    I caught my biggest of blue of 43lb at the dam at night in the fall with a slip bobber set at 15ft deep with a huge fillet of Carp on a 13/0 J-Hook. And have hooked many more that I feel sure are alot bigger than that one. Sometimes in the fall we might get a warm thunderstrom rain, this will make excellent fishing in the creeks!

    The best month in the fall seems to be November. It is excellent fishing! For everything in the lake, Big Blues, Channels, and of course another favorite fish of mine the Striped bass. the water temp in November usually is around 50* Fahrenheit and I believe the cats really love that temp. Catching cats in the fall (Just like the spring) is not very hard in my opinion.

    Now, alot of us fish in different places, and I know that alot of the bodies of water we fish are alot different. But I do hope that someway this helps you. No matter what time of year it is cats are there and can usually be caught, it is up to you to get out there and find them! If nothing else get out there and enjoy being on the water and the peacefulness of fishing, try to take a kid or family member fishing, or a friend. It is really fun to take someone fishing that has never caught a big fish and see the look on their face when they hook into "The big one". So, I say to you, get out there and make some memories that will last a lifetime. I'll see you on the water......

    Until then, Tightlines, bent rods, and screaming clicker's to all!
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