Catfishing Hot-Spots: FISH THE DITCHES


The ditch is a hot spot that only occurs in lakes and reservoirs, it attracts many kinds of fish which in turn attracts the big monster catfish looking for a meal. You can locate most of these by looking at a decent lake map or visually look to the banks for your clues, reading the banks will tell you a lot about what’s going on, generally what you see on the bank will also be happening under the water too. So for this hot spot, I’m going to look for cuts in the bank and by cuts I mean those v shaped fingers that you see extended off the main body of water, which are really just rain water run off creeks and ditches that used to feed the main channel before the lake or reservoir was built.

These run off ditches and creeks can be at any depth and because the ditches can be as short as 100 foot or as long as 500 yards, each one with will have a variety of depths above it, it really just depends on the terrain that the lake is built on.
Ditches will also vary in actual ditch depth, some will show up on your depth finder as small 1 or 2 foot depressions and others will show definite depth change of 5 to 10 foot, along with a variety of widths, most of these old ditches and creeks will be most likely silted somewhat, so don’t expect to see a quick depth change on your depth finder, but of a more gradual change.

Catfish use these types of spots for navigating the lake system, cruising along to locate food that has washed into the lake and to blend into the structure for a ambush point. Keep in mind though, that the smaller lakes my produce a thermocline in the heat of the summer so the deepest parts of the ditch that extends below the thermocline will not produce well. You can still catch catfish but you just have to fish the ditch above the thermocline. spring, early summer, late fall and winter when the thermocline is non existent will be the best time to approach the deep water cat fishing hot spot in the smaller lakes.

The larger navigable reservoir water ways which produce current and do not develop a thermocline, and will hold fish year round although the ditch itself as a whole is good place to fish, the deeper portions of the ditch that extends out and meets the main channel seems to hold the bigger fish.

Use your favorite technique once you have found your hot spot! Catfish frequent these areas regularly and will hit on most all presentations offered. My two favorite methods for fishing the ditches are, target anchoring and a controlled suspend drifting, targeting key areas along the ditch, finding the spot with in the spot. The target area I will always key in on first is where the ditch or creek meets at the main channel and then I work my way back from there!



  1. nocatfish says:

    when you talk about fishing ledges do you mean where it drops into the channel? or a ledge that is in the channel drop? when you fish either of these how do you determine if you’re going to anchor and fish dead on the bottom or suspend baits at certain depths? i’ll be fishing mainly on the cumberland and i’m very new to river fishing.

  2. Steve Douglas says:

    legdes in the channel are good but there are some ledges that can be found throughout a body of water, with a depth finder, and it depends on the time of year as to which technique you should use, rule of thumb for the cumberland river will be anchor in water below 50 degrees and drift the ledges in water temp higher than 50 degrees. a system like the cumberland will generally only have ledges up around bumpis mills to cheatam dam, secondary ledges can be found more towards lake barkley past Bumpis mills on into the lake. good luck

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