New to winter Catfishing

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by Pfunk, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. Pfunk

    Pfunk New Member

    Messages:
    141
    State:
    Lake Fork - Texas
    Hello, I am here to pick someones brain on how to find catfish in the winter.

    I was having great luck in the fall when water temp was around 70 - 86 degree's, and at depths between 6 ft - 22 ft. But now that the water has cooled off, things have come to a complete stand still.

    Right now, lake temp is between 54-57 degree's and getting colder every week. I'm fishing on Lake Fork in Texas which is known for its big bass, but also has a most excelent ammount of quality catfish. It has a lot of stumps and trees still standing in depths up to sometimes 30 ft. But most of the trees are standing in 0 - 22 ft deep water.

    I've read till my eyes puked and still can't seem to get much action in these colder water temps.

    I know they are chasing the bait fish, for they usualy die off around right now when the lake temp drops. And ive noticed the bait fish have moved out of the coves, and into deeper water, i just dont know how deep, and how to find them.

    Anyone have any knowledge and or resources to share on where I might have better luck, or a better way at going about finding these monster catfish.
     
  2. CatAngler

    CatAngler New Member

    Messages:
    312
    State:
    Omaha NE
    I guess I would start off by asking you; what are you using for bait, are you fishing from a boat or bank, & what species of cat are you targeting?


    J
     

  3. Pfunk

    Pfunk New Member

    Messages:
    141
    State:
    Lake Fork - Texas
    Well, im using cut shad, Blood bait, and doughball. I have an old Skeeter that i paddle out of my cove, cause im fortunate enough to live right on the lake. And when im lucky i get to use a friends bass boat which i use to map out the lake bottom for drop offs, ridges, and depth.

    Ive tried bobber fishing in about 5 ft - 10 ft deep water with all baits listed above. Ive tried straight down fishing in 15 ft - 30 ft deep water off of ridges and humps (both methods i hang the bait about 1 ft above the bottom of the lake).
    This was very successfull in the fall, but has not brought me much luck this winter.
    I tried morning, day and night, all week (when im not at work). And not catching anything is starting to slow me down a bit.

    And mostly i enjoy catching Bluecat. In this lake they usualy have more meat on them than other species.
    I really enjoy catching the big ones, but i dont usualy keep them over 5 lbs. anything under 5 lbs tho goes in my freezer :).
     
  4. CatAngler

    CatAngler New Member

    Messages:
    312
    State:
    Omaha NE
    First off, welcome to the boards!:cool2: As far as fishing winter blues are concerned, typically the colder the water the deeper you need to fish. I would reccomend 25' to 40' deep. The next time you get a chance to borrow your friends bass boat go around & map out the deepest holes and channels you can find & work your bait slowly in & around these holes. If you don't get a bite in twenty or so minutes, move on to the next hole or channel. I would also reccomend using bluegill heads as bait. Remember the colder the water the slower the fish move. You really have to set that bait right in front of their noses to gain some interest. I hope this helps. I mainly fish Rivers and not lakes but I'm sure most of the same theories apply. Patience and consistancy are key.

    J
     
  5. tbull

    tbull New Member

    Messages:
    3,318
    State:
    SW Ohio
    Welcome to the BOC....

    As far as your situation goes, this time of the year it's usually about the depth. But then again it can be hard to figure these guys out sometimes, especially the blues...I guess I would start out by asking what bait fish is abundant in the body of water you are fishing? Around here is usually shad, whatever species it is, I would stick with that at first, and the fresher the better. Its all about knowing the body of water, yes the fish usually move to deeper water this time of year, but just because you have found the deep holes, doesn't mean the fish are there, and even if they are, it doesn't mean they will be as active as normal. As the tempature in the water drops, so does their metabolizim. Change up your offerings, and size of the bait can play a big part in this. You may have to change back and forth from larger to small bait and see what they are taking.

    Like you said, trying to map out the floor of that lake is a great idea, look for the deeper holes, and the structure. Structure may be the most important piece to the puzzle. I mainly fish rivers, so the current aspect of things may differ a bit. Like the previous poster stated, its all about patience, patience, patience. Catching fish like anything else takes practice, it all comes down to spending time on the water. Frozen shad works just fine here, but always seem to have a few more takers on the fresh. Just keep at it, find the holes that produce the active fish and move on. This is a great site full of information. You will get plently of responses and be on fish in no time. Good Luck!:wink:
     
  6. Pfunk

    Pfunk New Member

    Messages:
    141
    State:
    Lake Fork - Texas
    Thanks guys, thats a great start!

    Shad are the primary baitfish in this lake. I read that during the winter the shad will start to die off in great numbers, and the catfish will usually hang around that area to get easy meals. So i bought a bunch of cut shad, and put a few on a hook as if they would be laying there together with the rest of them. But after hours of poking and prodding 27 - 30 ft deep to the bottom, i came up with nothing.

    This is my first solid year at catfishing, and now that I learned how to catch them in the summer and fall, I realized its now winter, and a whole new ball game…

    How do catfish react to pressure, and temp changes in the winter? And does the thermocline and O2 levels have any effect on them?
    Then I have the whole time, night, day, cloudy, sunny factors to work with also.

    One thing im struggling with is my conversion from bass fishing to cat fishing. I know bass pretty well, and know they like to hang in the thermocline this time of year.. So when I hear that catfish hang on the bottom, 30 - 50 ft deep, It's hard for me to comprehend…
    Plus other than when i lived in Ohio, and fished for Perch on Erie as a kid, I really don't have a whole lot of experience fishing deeper than 25 ft or so.
    So It's kind of hard for me to feel confident fishing 30 - 50 ft deep on the bottom. But I'm working on it..
     
  7. tbull

    tbull New Member

    Messages:
    3,318
    State:
    SW Ohio
    First off if you can, by a cast net and net your own bait. It will pay for itself probably the first time out when you calculate how much it would have cost you to buy them.They are worth there weight in gold, and you end up with fresher bait..One of the things you will realize is that catfishing takes some hard work sometimes...LOL ...I would try cutting up the bait, up here it works great to fillet the shad right down the sides, just like you would a fish your getting ready to put into the deep fryer. Remember to alter your presentations. Your on the right track, just keep it up.
     
  8. catfishscotty

    catfishscotty Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,388
    State:
    mo
    u really have to find the fish first on your fishfinder the colder the water temps get they should really bunch up its not just finding a deep hole its finding them bunched up here in missouri this happens around 45 degree water temp ive learned this from a local guide. blues eat all winter long eating machines. now i learned the hard way about buying shad im guesing they where frozzen we use to freeze shad also but the guys with fresh bait caught 3 times as many fish. the fresher the bait the better. find some one to teach you how to throw a shad net as the bait goes deeper the bigger the net u will need and prolly have to add rope to the net to reach them. i know its frustrating at first learning the winter pattern and finding bait but trust me the winter is the best chance to catch big fish and when u find them bunched up man oo man the action is fast. my friend thats a guide is steve brown at (catfish safari .com) we are having ice storms here in missouri and the boat ramps are iced over steve has his own dock so he went today caught over 20 blue cats. and a few days ago he took out some people and again caught over 20 fish and caught a 67 lb blue. money well spent would go with a guide to see how they do it.
     
  9. Skunk Master

    Skunk Master New Member

    Messages:
    3,366
    State:
    Colinsville, Il
    Allen.. if you have a thermocline there this time of year it will be the same as summer.. there is no oxygene under it so the cats will be at that depth or shallower.. Welcome to the BOC..
     
  10. tbull

    tbull New Member

    Messages:
    3,318
    State:
    SW Ohio
    Thats a good point I never thought about that, I mainly fish the rivers, I didn't even think about the thermocline for lake fishing,
     
  11. Big Sam

    Big Sam Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,349
    State:
    Booneville AR
    Name:
    Sam
    Welcome pfunk!:big_smile: get up early and paddle that bugger to the neareast dock that you see some kind of gadget that "looks" like a combo giant birdhouse-landscaping attraction sitting on those docks.:smile2::eek:oooh: Those are camoflaged fish-feeders that go off about 6am daily:smile2: cast right where they go off:smile2: will catch fish:wink: All the docks have them just about. It keeps those cats hanging out. Might take some grain and throw it by the feeders to see what i'm talking about. oh yeah some of those folk's take there feeders very seriously too!!!:eek:oooh:
     
  12. Pfunk

    Pfunk New Member

    Messages:
    141
    State:
    Lake Fork - Texas
    Thanks everyone for your reply. Scotty, Ive heard time and time again how fun and exciting it can be catching those big blues in the winter, so i hear ya load and clear... I also don't mind getting cold and wet, as long as i feel confident with my bait and position on the lake (thats why i came here :wink:)

    Tbull, i did try to catch some shad a few times now, and i ran into a problem with my throwing ability lol.
    I don't know if i just bought a cheap net or what, but i had little luck getting it to spread out properly. What should I look for in a good throwing net? Is there an easier way, or maybe I just need to practice more?

    Also, how does one go about putting shad or shad heads or crawfish on a hook? Is there a way to use em as bait without having the point of the hook exposed?
    There is a lot of timber on the lake bottom here, and when I'm anchored out on the lake, my bait tends to drag the bottom as the boat shifts around.
    This is why i use dough bait most of the time (dough bait with ground shrimp, chicken hearts, cheese, maze, and oatmeal.), It tends to roll over the timber a lot better than the live bait I've tried.

    Great information fellas, much appreciated.. It's going to be 45 degrees outside tonight, which is pretty cold for Texas, and I'll be out there with a few new tricks up my sleeve.:cool2:

    Al
     
  13. Mickey

    Mickey New Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    14,592
    State:
    Illinois
    Allen Welcome to the BOC. Your avatar looks like Clint Eastwood.I look forward to reading your post.
     
  14. Pfunk

    Pfunk New Member

    Messages:
    141
    State:
    Lake Fork - Texas
    Yea ive seen those, on Lake Tawakoni and Lake Cooper...
    But this lake is more known for bass, and most of the folks out here with docks have the whole 9 yard bass fishing spread..

    But Lake Fork has a secret that most here dont realize. Hell most people here dont even eat fish lol, they in it for the sport only...... So im in the minority fishing for cats, Buit I kind of like it better that way :smile2:
     
  15. CatAngler

    CatAngler New Member

    Messages:
    312
    State:
    Omaha NE
    Allen, catfish don't care much about exposed hooks so I wouldn't worry to much about that (I think that's your bass thinking at play there). As far as hooking shad heads I prefer to hook them from the buttom jaw out through the nostril.



    J
     
  16. Pfunk

    Pfunk New Member

    Messages:
    141
    State:
    Lake Fork - Texas
    Thank you, thats good to know. But i still have to watch the timber on the bottom (which we have a lot here). By the boat shifting around its easy to get a snag, thats my main concern.
    And yea you are right, thats bass fishing mantality in me.. I guess i just need to be carefull about where i anchor.

    Allen

    Thank You Mickey, glad to be here..
     
  17. Katmandeux

    Katmandeux New Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    State:
    Checotah, Oklahoma
    Use a plastic bait in conjunction with your cut shad, to make your rig weedless.
     
  18. tbull

    tbull New Member

    Messages:
    3,318
    State:
    SW Ohio
    The cast net just takes practice...You can look in the archives here, and even in the video section for some tips on how to throw it. If I tried to explain it in writing it would probably be confusing to you and me...LOL THere are tons of different ways to throw it, just got to find out what works for you. Check out the archives.

    I definatley wouldn't worry about the hook being exposed, I have even lost fish on the hook set because the hook wasn't exposed, doesn't mean its wrong, just means I would rather take my chances on a good hook up and worry about the snags later.

    Keep practing with that net, I took my first one out in the yard and practiced forever until I got it.:wink:
     
  19. dougc

    dougc Active Member

    Messages:
    1,711
    State:
    Independen
    I just want to know-"Do you feel lunky punk, well do you?":smile2:
     
  20. dougc

    dougc Active Member

    Messages:
    1,711
    State:
    Independen
    Dang it! You changed your avatar too soon!

    That's not quite as funny now...