What to look for when looking for Blue Catfish

Discussion in 'Blue Catfishing' started by tbull, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. tbull

    tbull New Member

    Messages:
    3,318
    State:
    SW Ohio
    This post is coming from a man at his wits end!!:eek:oooh:....On a serious note, I have spent the past 2 winters chasing blues on the Ohio, last year I thought I had them figured out, and I guess not. Guys what do you all look for on your graphs when tracking down these fish. Today is a great example of utter frustration...Setting up on fish in deep water, and shallow water, on drop offs and ledges, at the mouth of creeks, behind humps and structure, all marking fish, and nothing but pecking channels all day, and if they werent channels the they were drum, sauger, etc....Can someone give me, and others I am sure, a rundown on what you are looking for when targeting winter time blue cats on big rivers. Screen shots??? I dont want anyones honey holes, it does me no good, I just want answers...There has to be something specific, so many are so succesful while others are not, I dont want to continue on a bad path while doing things wrong. Examples of screen shots or anything that will help me interprit what I am seeing, I cant save images on my Lowrance x510c, I wish I could to show you all..Help a brother out, please...:sad2:
     
  2. j.bridges

    j.bridges Active Member

    Messages:
    878
    State:
    arab,alabama
    Hey Travis...it sounds like your doing all the right stuff....there are some days it don't matter what you do there not going to bite...I don't know how the current is up there wright know but try to find good current breaks...current breaks tin to hold bait which will also holds blues....another thing would be humps or drops...it don't have to be a big drop it could as little as a foot on each side and still be holding fish...my favorite is structure...i have a lowrance 522 that i love and when it shows me good structure and no fish i always fish it anyhow with great success...I don't know what kind of bait your using but I prefer skipjack and if no skips then i use fresh shad no shad i use bream...The main thing is don't give up...you can't catch them at the house...it will turn around for you just hang in there....hopes this helps....
     

  3. tbull

    tbull New Member

    Messages:
    3,318
    State:
    SW Ohio
    The current up here has finally calmed down some, according to the army corps site about 102-110. The past 2 weeks it was moving way to hard to even keep the baits down. As far as bait, we have been using skips, fresh shad, and mooneye to no avail..
     
  4. JPritch

    JPritch New Member

    Messages:
    1,852
    State:
    Lynchburg, VA
    For me, fresh caught bait is a must. Also, you don't have to rely on your finder too much. Sometimes we focus so much on that little screen we miss the other cues around us. Look for big trees fallen into the water along the shoreline and fish tight to them. Other visible structure such as pilings, bridges, docks....if you can find these in deep water, even better. I've caught them in 5ft of water around those trees in the winter. If you can find a shallow bay 5-10ft, they tend to get warmed up by the afternoon, and you'll often find nice fish in them. Look around and see if you can find bait fish flipping on the surface or birds working an area, motor on over and drop some lines. Use big baits for bigger fish, say if you cut a 12" shad, you'd get the head, and two cuts off the body.

    Hope this helps some, these things have helped me catch some nice fish recently. Also, it might pay for itself if you hire a guide to take you out and show you the ropes and some things specific to that stretch of river to look for. Or hook up with another member here who has better luck and you can learn from them.
     
  5. repoman3809

    repoman3809 New Member

    Messages:
    788
    State:
    Cincinnati, Ohi
    So much for that....forecast says by Friday back up to 38.3ft.
     
  6. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,160
    State:
    NC
    "....One there are some days it don't matter what you do there not going to bite...."

    Very true. There are days I am set up on what I know are fish, and they don't bite. It just happends that way, especially when you haev significant changes in the weather such as cold snaps, lots of rain, etc.

    I would bet that with what you are doing, if you are able to fish three straight days, you will on them good during one of those three days. Fish don't bite good all the time, but even under poor conditions they have to eat sooner or later.

    If you are fishing ledges, set up on the ledge and cast baits on the ledge, up shallow, and deep. If you can get a few bites then move the baits to that same water depth. Sometimes I will mark fish on a ledge, but the biting fish will be deep.

    I heard and seen folks in videos say, "if I don't see them on the sonar I ain't fishing there," and for the most part that works. But, I have caught LOTS AND LOTS of fish drifting and never marked a single one on the sonar. Some folks say this is because in the winter the cats are layed up in the mud and silt and don't show up as well, and sure enough when you bring them up they are covered.

    So, while the sonar is a GREAT tool, don't put all your eggs in that basket.
     
  7. tbull

    tbull New Member

    Messages:
    3,318
    State:
    SW Ohio
    Thats a great point, I am running 2 graphs, a lowrance x510c, and a humminbird 792c2si, and I caught more fish when I was running my singe eagle black and white graph by itself! I think I am getting way to attached to the electronics.
     
  8. repoman3809

    repoman3809 New Member

    Messages:
    788
    State:
    Cincinnati, Ohi
    Yea I been racking my brain along with everyone's who will listen. But I think I've come to one main conclusion.....seems like every time head out lately, its been in a changing environment(like Dieter said). Whether it's rising or lowering waters, rain or snow, extremely windy or an oddly warm/cold day.

    I think my next trip will try to follow consistent patterns on all of the above. Ya know a pattern where water levels, air temps, precipitation and winds have all been steady for a few days straight. Maybe rely a little less on electronics, more on my eyes and knowledge. Maybe work some good current seams and ledges. Hopefully it all produce!
     
  9. Steve Douglas

    Steve Douglas Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,899
    State:
    Kentucky
    great advice! i never look for fish on my finder, how ever i do and fish the structure i find on my depth fider
     
  10. patrickgd

    patrickgd New Member

    Messages:
    809
    State:
    Memphis TN
    one of the toughest things about fishing the river for me is that I tend to do the same things over and over in the same spots. The river is constantly changing, old things are literally washed away. One of my 2009 resolutions is to start keeping a fishing diary. I will be noting the date (of course) air temps, water temps, barometric pressure, times of the day, depths fished, bait used, moon phase etc. etc. I've been told by the veterans that over time you can learn where there at and what they will bite on any set of circumstances.

    I wish I could offer an answer and I agree 100% that winter fishing in a big river is a huge challenge. Like another BOC member told me the other day. He said replace the word in my quote below "minutes" with "days" and keep on fishing and reporting. Because you never know when that 100 lber is gonna bite for ya. :wink:
     
  11. catcrazed

    catcrazed New Member

    Messages:
    575
    State:
    ohio
    No kiddin, you don't try to find fish on the finder?? You just look for a good lookin bottom and fish it no matter wheather you mark fish there or not. I may need to make a change or 2. I never stop and fish a spot if I don't mark fish there. Evan if its a good lookin bottom or piece of structure. Ill try anything though. Keep the info comin!!!
     
  12. Steve Douglas

    Steve Douglas Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,899
    State:
    Kentucky
    yea i dont even try to mark fish! just structure! some guys claim they can mark fish and catch them! i never been able to rely on his method! you mite mark a butt load of fish, but what are they? carp, spoonbill, cats? dont know! but i do know cats hang around structure! so thats what i look for!
     
  13. tbull

    tbull New Member

    Messages:
    3,318
    State:
    SW Ohio
    When fishing structure, are you guys trying to get your baits behind it, in front, or just all around it?
     
  14. catcrazed

    catcrazed New Member

    Messages:
    575
    State:
    ohio
    took the words right out of my mouth!!!!! Great minds think alike.:smile2:
     
  15. Steve Douglas

    Steve Douglas Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,899
    State:
    Kentucky
    close to it! perferrably up river from it! let your scent trail do the work!
     
  16. catcrazed

    catcrazed New Member

    Messages:
    575
    State:
    ohio
    we caught some good fish today using that method as long as you call humps structure. I would assume you they would use humps as current brakes just as a root ball or something. Im definetly gonna try to use that method though of not passing up a nice lookin tree layin on the bottom just cause i don't mark fish. It will be a bad habbit to break me of though ive just done it so long.
     
  17. Arkansascatman777

    Arkansascatman777 New Member

    Messages:
    7,782
    State:
    AR
    In current they ( whoever they are :smile2:) say to fish down current from the structure. We have done well that way but in some situations you have to fish up current and a good bloody chunck of cut bait will draw them to you when the scent gets to them. In a no current situation start out as tight to the structure or even down in it if you are above it. Then move out from there until you find fish. One rule of thumb when you are fishing brush or stumps if your not getting hung up your probably not close enough and probably not catching a lot of fish.
    Also look for big submerged boulders around bluff areas, they will hold fish and a lot of times some good fish.
    And like previously posted fish those drops by setting up right on the top edge and fish the flat, the drop, and the deep to locate the active fish. A lot of times they will hang right on the top edge or right at the bottom of the drop. Sometimes the most active will be out on the shallow flat and sometimes right along the drop and sometimes out in the deep.
    Theres all kinds of structure, but if you will stick to fishing structure of some type you will locate active fish more times than not.
     
  18. Cathooker

    Cathooker New Member

    Messages:
    299
    State:
    Ga
    What most people do not realize is that a blue in lake"A" is not going to act like a blue in lake"B" or river "C". The difference in type of food available, current, structure ect will cause them to act differently.
    The main key for us is structure with bait on it. We are blessed here with millions of shad. Where ever the shad are the blues are close by. We mostly fish underwater structure in open water. Rarely do we catch blues where there is no shad nearby. I do not rely on my electronics to mark fish. I use it extensively for marking bait and structure. Ocassional the cats will suspend right under that bait balls and you can see them quite clearly. We have caught many blues that were suspended way up in the water column and not acting like a catfish "should". :smile2: But those suspended fish were always near bait that was near structure. I read an article that said to hunt the blues almost like you would be hunting stripers. My catch rate went up when I started using that mentality. Another factor I have noticed is that we catch more when there is a fair amount of current flow.
    My method may not work where you fish but then again what ya got to lose.

    Alan.
     
  19. Big Sam

    Big Sam Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,286
    State:
    Booneville AR
    Name:
    Sam
    "If a person wants to learn what kind of fish they are looking at on the graph it can be learned, scaled, skin, big, small, side view, front view, & so on.....when the big tackle shows come to town camp on the sonars door steps take a note book (your gonna need it) & listen to the man.....The Lowrance man is one of the best in the country:wink: he will teach you if you ask:eek:oooh::tounge_out: I consistently mark cats and catch them...even the ones in the mud..learn how to adjust your electronics to the lake bottoms, & river bottoms there is more to them than just turning them on!!
     
  20. fishnvince

    fishnvince New Member

    Messages:
    414
    State:
    na
    Looks like you guys got this one covered, so I'll only add this spin. Try to figure out whats working on the place you fish, when you have done this stick with it as long as its working. Like a few already stated, Fish act diffrently in Tidal waters than they do in Lakes and Resivoirs. I fish tidal Blues and found that I can find the fish on my sonar, set up on then and effectivly catch them a good percentage of the time. Other times they will be easy to find but wont bite and I may have to wait for the tide to turn before they feed. I'll end with this tid bit of info... Don't be afraid to try different things. thats what make us better anglers. Good luck