Posts belonging to Category Floats/Bobbers for catfishing

Shallow water Cats in the Springtime: Tactics for both bank and boat fisherman

Catfish are driven internally to move upstream for the spawn in the springtime and you can use this annual migratory pattern to your advantage. This is a great opportunity to look to the shallower water for success.

As the days are getting longer and the weather warms things up this will trigger the catfish’s biological senses to begin to moving from their wintering holes, to places that will allow them to feed heavily before the spawn.

The shallow water on sunny days can sometimes be 4-8 degrees warmer than the rest of the system there for drawing the bait fish as well as other fish including the cats.
In rivers the catfish begin to move up stream and as they do they will follow the underwater highways so to say, such as channels ledges, deep-water impressions, long points or other structure and contour irregularities but as they make their way upstream, they visit the shallower areas because they know it means food.

The shallow flats adjacent the deep water, north facing shallow banks or inside bends and tributary mouths are some examples of shallow water areas where you can cut the off at the pass as they travel up stream.

In reservoirs and lakes the catfish will begin to move and feed in the warmest parts of the lake as the warmer water will draw the baitfish and in turn will draw the predator fish such as a catfish. Again look to the north banks and coves these types of example will warm the fastest.

Other examples are shallow water with wood structure, mid lake flats or humps and feeder creeks. The spring rains will wash insects and other critters into the lake and the catfish have learned to frequent these areas , waiting for an easy meal.

Although the flats are featureless with little or no structure, they do attract catfish because of a flats ability to produce warmth and large amounts of algae from the suns energy attracting the shad and baitfish to the area which feed on the algae in turn creating a buffet for the catfish and other species as well.



(Santee Rig for dragging baits)
Items needed for the basic 3-Way rig
Keep in mind item specs listed below will change according to the size fish your ‘re targeting.
Example below is a good all around combination of tackle required. It’s what I use to target trophy size catfish but is also effective on smaller fish also.
65lb braided or mono main line. (I prefer braid)
3- Way swivel
50 lb mono Leader line
20 lb mono drop line
#8-10 Circle hook
Bank sinker
*(Santee option- 3 inch peg float)

Tip: Notice the break rating on the drop line is less than the mainline. This is one option you may want to take advantage of to save tackle and time when fishing with any 3-way combination. It’s called a sacrificial weight, meaning it will break before the mainline when hung up on structure, keeping the rest of your rig intact so all you have to do is retie the drop line and weight instead of the whole rig, this saves a lot of time and frustration.

3-way rig for catfishing

(Dragging the shallow flats)

Once you determine where you will fishing, just throw your baited rig behind your boat at different lengths of main line and place your rod in your Monster Rod Holder and begin to pull to drag your baits behind your boat.
I normally sling my first rod out behind my boat about 75 feet and the second one a little closer than the first and so on, keeping them staggered at different lengths.
The idea here is to drag your baits along the contour of the bottom using your trolling motor.

Although drifting with the wind will produce catfish, I prefer to control my (pull/drift) and target more precise contour structure, such as flats, humps and ledges.
The drag speed will be determined by the catfishes activity level the size sinker you are using; the heavier it is, the faster and deeper you can drag. After cold fronts and low activity levels I prefer to start with a 2 oz sinker and keep my speed at about .5 mph.
As your dragging your baits across the contour of the bottom, your pole will go to bouncing, this is normal. At times, your pole will even appear to be getting hung up, this is ok, just keep dragging and most likely it will pop off of whatever it got caught on.
When dragging the flats for instance, there is just not a lot you can get hung on other that maybe small stones and the occasional water logged limbs and twigs and as I indicted, you will most likely just pull yourself out what ever small obstacle it got snagged on along the bottom and continue to drag your baits across the flats but this rod bouncing and occasional jerking action of the rods with this technique again normal.

The bite on this technique will look somewhat similar to getting hung on the bottom on the initial takedown in the aspect of the rod bending; however when you’re dragging the baits at certain speed, your rod tip movements will also move at that same speed.
The bite of the catfish will start to look different the rod after the initial take down but keep in mind, all take downs are not created equal. Some takedowns are slow and steady, just as it appears when you get hung on the bottom and some will just flat-out be fast and hard. But once you have him hooked, the rod tip will begin to continuously pull and bounce violently unlike being hung on the bottom which would be more described as dead weight.

The Santee dragging rig is good method to search out feeding catfish, at the same time learning what your bottom contour is like and discovering new pieces of structure, however in the process you will get snagged and loose some rigs. (Don’t get discouraged), it just the way it is. I’ve fished places before where I’d lose 20 rigs a day and I’ve fished others and never gotten hung up. It is a proven fish catching rig.

Fishing from the bank?
For all of our friends that are bank bound anglers, this dragging technique is not going to help you at all.
However not to fret, as the catfish don’t know you are bank bound and you too can take advantage of the shallow water springtime phenomenon but you will just have to approach it differently.

Whether you have access to a big lake or small ponds or rivers, the catfish will have the same internal urges to do what it takes to complete the spawn just as these big river cats do and migration to feeding grounds or comfort zones is their first move. So with that in mind you will need to find areas in the waters you fish that will provide this type of comfort or activity.
In lakes I would look for the shallow north banks as they will be the first to warm in the springtime especially shallow coves on the north banks. This warmer water will definitely be a spot that can produce some real nice cats but other areas like the mouths of feeder creeks and shallow ditches are equally as good.

Going Old School
Since bank anglers don’t have the advantage of using the depth finders, we will have to determine the contour from observing the bank you can see above the water line. Most likely if you are seeing a small ditch running off the hill into the water, it more than likely will continue underwater and this type of areas can be very productive in the spring of the year. In farm ponds, use the same knowledge of fishing the north bank first in the spring to find the active catfish. Stay to the upper incoming, drainage or fill ditch area portion of the pond away from the dam to find the warmer water.

The Preferred bank bound Rig

The rigs I would opt for in this bank bound situation would be either a Carolina rig or float rig tied on a 7-8 foot spin or baitcast combos.

(Slip float)

carolina rig

(Carolina Rig)
Whether you’re fishing from a boat or the bank the shallow water springtime patterns are working now.
Remember though, the bigger catfish in the water you’re fishing will prefer cut bait over worms or stink bait but grocery shrimp, chicken livers, shiners and minnows are just a few other good bait choices for small lakes and ponds. Worms and night crawlers tend to be stolen by the pan fish and other small fish so I would avoid them completely unless you use them to catch pan fish with, to cut up for catfish bait.
This shallow spring action is the best times to get the family out for a fun, fresh spring day of catfishing.

Happy springtime folks. Let’s go catfishin’

Bobbers/Floats for catfishing

The traditional stationary catfishing bobber rig is probably one of the first styles of rigs people will use when first starting to fish for catfish or any fish that matter mainly because of the simplicity and the popularity the rig has gained over the years as it’s been depicted to generations in numerous books and TV shows from Huck Finn to the Andy Griffith show.

Truth be known, this is probably the first rig that we all used in our first fishing experiences. The vision of a little fella wearing bib overalls sporting a straw hat, sitting on the edge of a dock with a can of worms and cane pole with red fishing bobber in hand is virtually everywhere. It’s truly an American symbol of good times and lazy days.
This the rig will catch catfish in certain situations, it’s generally considered a novice rig and is better suited rig for pan fish however there are modified versions of the catfishing float rig that catfish anglers will use with great success.

Although there are hundreds of shapes and sizes of fishing bobbers there are only two styles to choose from.
1. Stationary bobber: attached to the fishing line with spring tension or pegs to hold the bobber in one place.
2. Slip bobber: is the most popular rig for catfishing and is attached to the fishing line by threading the line through the hole in the center of the bobber, leaving it to move freely up or down the fishing line. A bobber stop is used to stop the free movement at a desired depth.

The traditional stationary float rigs and usesShallow water presentations: The traditional red and white plastic fishing bobber is very well known however when I fish with a stationary bobber I will opt to use a more slim line long stem float which seems to have less resistance and easier to detect the bite. I’ll use this type of float rig when I’m fishing flats void of cover in shallow water, 5 foot or less and keep my depth around 18-24 inches in depth. This is not a good rig to fish around cover.

Santee rigs: a stationary Styrofoam peg float in used on the leader line or main line to help keep the bait off of the bottom also to help keep the components of the 3-way rig separated and free of tangles. This rig is normally dragged across the bottom contour of a river or lake.

Rattle bobber rig: is a traditional red and white stationary plastic bobber loaded with bb’s and is attached to the mainline; its main purpose is to add sound and vibration to the bait presentation and typically used on Carolina and 3-way rigs where water movement is present whether it be current or dragging the rig using the trolling motor. To make a rattling bobber simply drill a small hole in a small plastic bobber carefully and insert 4or5 ball bearings, buck shot or B.B.s into the bobber and seal the hole shut with silicone and let dry for two hours.

The slip float rig has several uses and advantages when it comes to catfishing. The slip float allows you to adjust the depth at which the bait will be presented and still maintain great cast ability no matter what depth you have it set at.

The slip float rigs and uses
Shallow water presentations:
I mainly utilize this rig when I’m fishing in and around visible cover in lakes and reservoirs; flippin as I call it, is a well known bass fishing technique that made a catfish crossover. The idea is to flip/pitch/present a slip float in and around the visible structure, thoroughly covering several pieces of structure along the banks. Flippin a slip float allows me to present the bait exactly where I want it.

Trophy lairs:
Size matters, the size of the bobber/float you use should be tailored to the size fish you are targeting. There are many different types of large catfishing bobbers available for trophy size catfish. Most anglers that use the large cat bobbers are using big live bream or suckers as bait and are targeting the large flathead catfish, drifting the baits at many depths around likely lairs. The large bobbers will create more float resistance to the rig for a good hook penetration and to keep the lively bait in the strike zone.
Weighted slip float rigs: are typically used when fishing from shore and casting long distances is required. The set up is the same however the extra weight allows you to really get it out there where you want it.