Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Catch Catfish in Cold Weather

Catching catfish in the winter time can be frustrating and many people don't even bother trying.  The thing is, you can catch catfish in the winter time, you just have to know where to go and what bait to use.

The first thing to know about catfish is that they are warm blooded.  When the water temperature decreases, the tend to drop to deeper water between 20-50+ feet.  Don't waste your time drifting through spots that are 20 feet or less because 90% of the time they won't be there.  Also, catfish tend to not feed as much during the winter time so the bite can be pretty slow.  When the water temperature reaches between 40-50 degrees the bite will get better in deeper water.  I always monitor the water temperature and usually go into deep water when the water temperature is close to 45-50 degrees.  Once you get to 60+ degrees, that's when they will move into the spawning phase.

When fishing for catfish in cold weather, you have a few options when it comes to bait.  There has been a big controversy over using frozen cut bait but I personally use frozen bait such as shad or herring when there is no other option.  Fresh fish is always going to be the best option but you want to put the fish in some water for a few days and let it rot a little bit or bury it for 2-3 days to get it ripe.  Catfish love stinking stuff.  A lot of people have asked me if stink bait works in the winter time and I tell people that I don't use it because stink bait is spread around by the heat in the water and when the water is cold the smell doesn't travel that far (I always use stink bait when the water temperature gets up in the 65+ range).  So, use cut bait, rot it out if you can, and cut it into 1" pieces (I usually don't use the tail).

When you are fishing for catfish in deep water you can either drift fish or anchor out.  I usually will drift in cold water to find the catfish and once I find them I will drop anchor just to see if there are any more bites, then continue drifting.

As for gear, when you are fishing in deep water in the winter time you have a chance at catching some big blue cats.  You want to have medium to heavy action rod and reels (I usually use open faced and bait casting reels).  As far as line, I would go with anything from 30lb to 50lb test line.

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