"The channel cat bite has finally started to stable out on Murray," Simpson said. "This lake has some real quality channel cats. It's just like Lake Greenwood used to be. Most of them have been in the 7- to 14-pound range, with the occasional 15-plus pounder."
Simpson said his best technique has been anchoring on humps and points. The fish are feeding enough that a wide variety of baits are working. Most of his clients are catching their best fish on cut herring, shrimp and stinkbaits. Channel cats are holding at a variety of depths, anywhere from five to 30 feet.
"There are certain zones within that range that are better from one day to the next," said Simpson (www.fightindablues.com), "and even from one part of the day to the next. In other words, the productive zone might be five feet in the morning, but when the sun gets high, it might be 20 feet."
Simpson likes to fan-cast several lines out at once, each one at a different depth. Once he pinpoints the depth where fish are most active, he puts all his lines in that range until the bite slows, repeating the process as the fish move throughout the day. The smallest of the big three catfish species, what channel cats lack in size, many anglers say they make up for in heart.
Mike Spinks, who fishes regularly on Lake Murray, loves them.
"Hooking a 15-pound channel cat is like hooking a 35-pound blue, except the channel cat won't roll over and become dead weight like the blue. These fish are to the catfish world what the smallmouth is to the black bass world," said Spinks, who has been having his best success fishing stinkbaits between from 5 to 10 feet deep early in the morning.
Simpson has good news for night-owls. He said the night fishing on Murray has especially good and is producing a few more bites than the daylight hours. He said the channel cat bite should stay good through August and get even better by mid September.