Target anchoring for big cats.

The winter time Bluecats become predictable and will school up or congregate in wintering areas that offer some sort of thermal or stable comfort zone and food availability. February one of the best times for hooking up with one of them monster cats along the Ohio River or its major tributaries like the Green or Kentucky rivers. Other areas like outside bends, drop-offs, creek beds and deep ledges. Look for the deepest contours and water depths that have been carved by nature. Blucats remain fairly active and aggressive in the winter months and will travel in and around these deep lairs looking for its next meal.

Target anchoring is my preferred method for wintertime catfishing. It involves the use of a GPS/Depth finder to find, mark and fish areas such as natural or manmade structure or cover, places where catfish will frequent for food, travel or spawn.
Anchoring on specific spots known to be high traffic areas such as ledges, humps or holes will increase an angler’s success, but if an angler can find certain that spot within the spot such as a big log laying among some rocks along the edge of a channel break, then you will more than likely have a productive day.

fishing map

Custom Mapping your favorite fishing spots

(Custom Mapping your favorite fishing spots)
Gps mapping lake charts has made fishing more productive as it allows the angler to discover, map, mark and return to these spots like clockwork. The mapping card technology in fish finders makes it a lot easier to understand, pinpoint and mark certain underwater structure, cover and contours that will most likely produce some action. Most lakes or impoundments map cards are very well defined in the contour terrain of the bottom which gives an angler the edge by taking of a lot of the guess work out of finding certain types of structure and it can position an angler precisely on a ledge or other obvious mapped contour changes.

Marking and setting up on specific fish that have been spotted on the sonar is another good use for this GPS technology. However the Rivers maps are not as defined in the contour terrain but more concentrate more on the navigational aspects. But with effort spent manually mapping the rivers bottom contour changes, an angler can still reveal those same productive types of contour or structure changes that are so well defined in the lake cards. Combining the depth finder and GPS to determine depth changes and GPS co ordinances to precisely mark spots to give anglers a blank canvas to personalize their own mapping charts of favorite locations either recently found or previously mapped. This is useful when scouting new areas marking the data that the angler inputs from their mapping also serves as a fishing log.

Find and anchor above your target about 80 to 100 feet and then cast the baits out of the back of the boat into the target area, staggering or fanning them out behind the boat in different depths. Lift your rod tip up and down a few times with the bait/sinker tension. This will straighten the line and remove any un wanted slack.
Channel bends in a river are great wintering holes and the best place to start your search, the river continuously keeps the bottom cut out and creates deep holes or runs in the bottom contour with lots of ledges, wood and irregularities, in general a catfish magnet.
Fan cast your baits to cover a wider areas, Anchor the boat closer to the bank so that it’s in the positioned in middle so to say of zero or the bank and its deepest point which is 50 feet. This way we can cover more area by spreading the baits, throw one rod out of the side of your boat in the deeper 50 ft. section, a couple straight out of the back of the boat one In the 40 foot section the other in the 30 ft section and the last one out of the opposite side towards the shallower 20 foot of water.

anchor for big catfish

Target anchoring for big catfish.

(Target anchoring)
In rivers, the deep winter holes are often found along outside bends or old river channels that run alongside a hard rock bank. In reservoirs, the old creek and river channels or in the reservoirs’ lower reaches. Channel confluences where the creek channels collide with the old river channels also tend to have deeper holes associated with them, run-ins or ditches will also provide some deep water habitat or HOT SPOTS.
Once you’re anchored on a spot, give it 30-35 minutes to see if you get any interest. If it’s been inactive it’s time to move down river a bit, but you don’t want to go far. The idea is to keep the scent trail close to the structure your fishing for the catfish to follow but to move just simply pull your anchor up and move your boat 40-50 feet down and re-anchor where you last placed your baits on the previous anchor and cast out again, keeping your bait in the same scent trail just a little further downstream. Because some of these channel bends can be up to a half mile long, you may need to bound down 4-5 times until you find the concentration of catfish.

Target anchoring

Aaron Wheately Director of Monsters on the Ohio with a nice winter time blue cat.

Using fresh bait
Big Shad and skip jack is the popular baits among trophy blue cat anglers, but cut or whole pan fish will also work well.
When finding and catching bait is not an issue, I like to have enough to re-bait on every move to keep the bait and scent trail fresh. Re-baiting often doesn’t seem to be as important in the spring or summer when the water is warmer as much as it does in the winter months.
In the frigid winter water the scent trail doesn’t seem to dissolve or disburse as well as it does in the warmer months, so keeping the freshest bait on each anchor in the winter time will attract the best results.
Winter time is a great time to land some huge trophy blue cats and there fun to catch but they are also kind of vulnerable this time of year as they are easily patterned.
Please remember to keep conservation in mind and put the big ones back after you’ve snapped some braggin pictures. Keep the smaller cats for fryin! Selective harvest works.

Steve Douglas

Patterning Big Catfish in the Current seams

Current seams are created naturally by the obstruction of the water flow. Major structural elements in a river that create current breaks include points, wing dams, eddies, backwaters and deep holes. The diagram shows a cross section view of how current is diverted by a point extending into the main channel.

fishing for catfish

Bait placement on a current seam

Obstructions such as points and humps have developed on the river bank or river bed that will cause the water flow to slower, creating a seam between the fast flowing current and the slower diverted water.

In most cases deeper holes are created on the back side of these obstructions creating Eddy’s [dead mostly slower water] the water is funneled from the tail of the Eddie towards its head creating a whirlpool effect. Current seams and particularly eddies can concentrate drifting food. Small forage fish will use the current seam to pick through the drift, in turn these current seams will also attract the trophy catfish as they feed on the forage fish.

Current speed will effect the way the seam develops on each break or structure, so the trick is to learn and understand when each spot (or spot within the spot) will be productive and when the fish will use them and only concentrate on these areas and fish these them during the correct water flow.

If the flow is to slow, the seams will just disappear and look nonexistent and therefore not very productive in low water times.

In a nutshell, understanding where the catfish hold at during the different water levels and current speeds on this particular seam will help you catch them. When the flow changes the catfish will change so you should too.

However setting up or anchoring on these current seams can sometimes be tricky, boat placement is crucial.

If you anchor too far out in the fast side of the seam, this will cause your bait presentation to drift further out into the main current away from the seam, and if you anchor too far in on the slower side of seam, (the Eddie) will cause your boat to spin in the whirlpool effect the eddy produces. There is a fine line between these two transitions, once you find your positioning you will drastically increase your chances of hooking into a trophy catfish.

fish current seams for catfish

Catching big catfish on current seams

CURRENT SEAMS AND SHORE FISHERMAN

Current seams and eddy’s are not limited to guys who only fish from a boat, bank anglers can also fish these types of spots as there are many different size current seams created naturally from river bank erosion. Small points and cut away banks all create a current seam even in small rivers and streams. Setting up on a point with moderate current flow and casting your rig out, allowing the current to sweep it into the seam is the same as anchoring a boat on it.

HERE IS A VIDEO ON HOW TO CATCH CATFISH ON CURRENT SEAMS:

ATTENTION ANGLERS: Here is a video of some safety tips and possible dangers of fishing current seams.