WHEN CATS GO SHALLOW

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, May 30, 2009.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    "WHEN CATS GO SHALLOW"
    by Luke Clayton

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    Luke Clayton


    When you stop and think about it, fish are pretty predictable, especially catfish and especially this time of the year. We are currently right in the middle of the channel catfish spawn. This is the perfect time for bank fisherman to walk the banks, dunking catfish baits into cover such as rock rip-rap, flooded weeds or tree roots or, as I’ve been doing lately: use a small boat to access the shallows and fish in comfort!

    I’ve been fishing from a little 10 foot Buster Boat that has all the features of the bigger rigs without many of the hassles inherent to towing, launching and FUELING larger boats; I’ve found it ideal for fishing the shallows for spawning catfish. Rigged with my very powerful Torqeedo electric motor, the little boat maneuvers the shallows with ease and gets me into those ‘tight’ places spawning channels like to hang out. But, with a little planning, you can catch just as many catfish from the bank.

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    Photo by Luke Clayton

    Each year about this time, I devote as much time as possible to shallow water catfishing. The fish I target average between 1.5 and 5 pounds, occasionally I will hook a bigger fish but most are what I consider perfect for spending time in Lake Crisco (hot oil)! From now, though the end of June, the majority of channel catfish will be in water four feet or less, often MUCH less. It’s a great time to stock the freezer with good tasting fillets. I’ve fished three times the past week and am well on my way to replenishing my dwindling stock. Here’s a few facts that I’ve learned about this relatively easy style of fishing:

    FIND THE FISH- The trick to locating concentrations of spawners is finding areas in shallow water with plenty of cover. The edge of shorelines with tree roots in the water are excellent but so is rock rip rap and stands of cattails. I’ve been fishing around cattails this week, in water that averages 2-3 feet, and hammering the catfish. I began by anchoring my little Buster boat out from the edge of the cover and casting up close to the thick vegetation but soon discovered it’s best to get right in to the thick of things. I began looking for little pockets in the cattails and easing the little boat into the cover; no need to anchor here, with reeds around the boat, it stays in position. The trick is to position the boat so that it’s within easy casting range of little pockets of open water. I’ve seen guys wade fishing the same stands of cattails with equal success; they just weren’t as comfortable as I when setting in the Buster’s padded seats! I use a boat paddle and test the bottom. I’ve discovered my better catches come from areas with a hard clay or sand bottom. When I push the paddle into the lake bottom and it buries several inches into the mud and muck, I move on to find a harder bottom. Channel catfish prefer hard bottoms during the spawn.

    CONCENTRATE THE FISH- Catfish have the ability to scent food from quiet a distance. Nothing concentrates them faster than ‘chumming’ and area with soured grain. This time of year, I keep several buckets filled with milo and water. When I get to an area that looks promising, I distribute a one-pound coffee can full of the ripe grain into the water I’m fishing. I never cease to be amazed at how fast it pulls the fish in within casting range or, how fast the greedy catfish gobble it up. On many occasions, I’ve pulled up to a likely spot, tossed out soured grain and in a matter of ten minutes, caught fish that were already packed with the smelly seeds! When fishing over ‘baited holes’, many of the catfish landed will have stomach’s full of milo. But they are gluttons; they just keep on eating. Baiting holes is not a necessity though, when using smelly ‘punch’ baits, the smell quickly permeates the water which helps pull the fish in.

    TACKLE- I used to fish with bait casting reels for these small catfish but learned a few years ago by pro guide George Rule at Tawakoni that lighter tackle is much more effective for catching smaller catfish. It’s much easier to use a spinning rig to toss baits into tight cover. Calcutta poles or composite crappie rods are also very effective, especially when fishing from the bank; 12 footers are preferred by most folks. Channel catfish sometimes grab the bait and strike with a vengeance but more often they ‘nibble’ or mouth the bait before they commit. Fishing with a floater is important, but not just any floater. Leave those round, plastic floats in the tackle box. You will miss about fifty percent of the catfish that take your bait when using round floaters. I, and most veteran angler, prefer the longer floats that make detecting bites much easier. I use a bobber known as the Duz it All (www.bobbers.com). It’s a ‘slip bobber’, a bobber stop is attached to the fishing line at the desired depth, the line is run through the Duz it All and when the bait hits the water, the line falls vertically through the bobber and stops when the bobber stop reaches the bobber. This is the best way to cast baits using a floater. During the cast, the bobber, bait and weight are at the end of the line, rather than having a length of line between the floater and bait/hook. This style bobber can also be attached to the line the desired distance about the bait via spring tension. It’s by far the most versatile and effective float for this style fishing that I’ve found.

    I’ve experimented a lot with hook styles and sizes. My favorite and the one I catch the most fish using is a #6 treble hook by Eagle Claw, it’s called the Laser Sharp Triple 3X. The barbs on this little hook are very sharp and they curve slightly in toward the center shank, when a catfish makes contact with the barbs, he’s hooked! Providing the angler does his or her job and gets the hook set. That’s another important aspect of shallow water catfishing, knowing when to set the hook! If the bobber tips over on it’s side, set the hook! If it is just bouncing a bit, better wait a bit until Mr. Whiskers pulls it under.

    We still have several weeks of prime time shallow water fishing for spawning catfish, here’s hoping you can get out to your favorite pond or lake and collect the makings of a big summertime fish fry!

    Listen to OUTDOORS WITH LUKE CLAYTON RADIO at www.catfishradio.com. Contact Luke at lukeclayton@prodigy.net.

    TIP OF THE WEEK- I recently enjoyed a bow hunt for wild hogs using an innovative new blind called the Ghost Blind (www.ghostblind.com). The blind uses mirrors on the outside to reflect the image of the surrounding terrain and conventional camo on the inside. It weighs only 22 pounds and comes with built in backpack straps. I’ve found a new favorite way to hunt from the ground!
     
  2. tkishkape

    tkishkape New Member

    Messages:
    782
    State:
    Gore, Okla
    Luke... I dunno what's wrong wih the cats down in Texiz, but here in Oklahoma I catch them blues and channels in 2 feet of water and less ALL YEAR AROUND!

    The biggest ones are cruising in 3 feet of water all winter long. I got pictures and witnesses to prove it.:smile2:
     

  3. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    Yes, We catch some of the biggest blues from water 4 feet or less during the coldest periods of winter but channels seem to go deep when the water temperature drops. Sure is fun catching them during the spawn, though, isn't it?
     
  4. CarolinaHitman

    CarolinaHitman New Member

    Messages:
    9
    State:
    North Carolina
    Good information Luke,.....just goes to show, we(catfishermen&women) dont need to go "high tech" to have fun catching channels.:cool2: I enjoy reading your posts,.....keep it up.
     
  5. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    You're right! I grew up on a poultry farm up in ne texas. We had Pecan Creek right behind the house. It was FULL of channel cats and we caught them on 'set lines' pertty basic stuff: A cane pole stuck in the bank with a weight and piece of cut bait. Channel catfishing can be just as simple today. It's US that's changed with the times, NOT the catfish, HA!
     
  6. Drawout

    Drawout Active Member

    Messages:
    1,179
    State:
    Paris.Texas
    Great article Luke ,Thank You for all you do for the sportsmen.
     
  7. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    Thanks, Buddy. I appreciate the kind words. I do love what I do and hope my words occasionally inform folks and INSPIRE them to get out there themselves and have some fun! This hunting and fishing we do is not rocket science, or at least it doesn't have to be!
     
  8. rcbbracing

    rcbbracing New Member

    Messages:
    757
    State:
    Ohio
    very helpful article and enjoy reading all your stuff on here...thanks and hope to see more soon!:roll_eyes:
     
  9. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    We have a 'fresh' article here each week. Watch soon for a write up on some testing I've been doing on the ghost blind. Been in the woods the past couple of evenings and got some good video and.. info for the article!
     
  10. catfishassassin

    catfishassassin New Member

    Messages:
    50
    State:
    ohio
    thanks for the info luke, thats all i do is bank fishing
     
  11. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    Nothing wrong with bank fishing, I enjoy it a lot myself. Until I was about 12 years old, the only 'boat' I knew was an 11 foot wooden boat my uncle made from marine plywood. It was heavy but got us out to run the trot lines! We hauled it to the 'lake' in a 1950 model International Pick Up... Now, I'm dating myself! HA.. Actually that was back around 1960 when I was a 10 year old whipper snapper!
     
  12. GwillE

    GwillE New Member

    Messages:
    2,337
    State:
    Phoenix,AZ
    Thanks luke! that's great info! It's amazing how much I learned from the boc and your articles in just a couple of weeks! thanks again!:big_smile:
     
  13. catman13

    catman13 New Member

    Messages:
    43
    State:
    ARIZONA
    Kot my biggest flatties n 7ft to 0ft of water honestly my rule of rules shaaaallllooooows baby!:smile2:
     
  14. Phil Washburn

    Phil Washburn New Member

    Messages:
    7,680
    State:
    Shawnee OK
    Luke, i went to the ghost blind website - that is neat! if i was a hunter i would have one :) does it work underwater? i would try it on the cats LOL
     
  15. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    HA! It just might... you may be on to something!!! Good fishing to you! lc