After a brief slowdown as the water temperature dropped and the lake "turned over," the catfish action is now red-hot on Lake Wateree.

Veteran angler Chuck Porter of Sumter said the fishing is typically great this month, and right now, the action is outstanding.

"The blue catfish are biting like crazy, and the good news is that the water temperature is still warm enough that some hefty channel catfish are being caught as well," said Porter. "Some channel catfish over five pounds have been caught, and that's a good size for Wateree. The blues are averaging from six to 15 pounds, but an occasional 20-to 30-pound (fish), and some even larger, are being be caught as well.

"I've found one important key for the big fish is to simply be catching plenty of the fish in the 6- to 15-pound class, and the big blues will be in the same area – just not in as big numbers."

 

Porter said one of the biggest problem for some anglers is finding fish, but once they do, the action is great.

 

"The key to finding the catfish is really easy," Porter said. "I don't specifically look for catfish on the graph at this time of the year, I look for big schools of shad. Also, I don't get locked into any specific depth. Just look for the big schools of shad on the graph and you'll likely be in the catfish action. In fact, when I see the shad, I do usually see big fish marks around them. It can be stripers, but often it's hungry blue catfish. The best depths may change from day to day, but the forage being the major attractant doesn't vary."

 

Porter said the best bait seems to be 4- to 6-inch gizzard shad, using either the whole shad or just the head and about a third of the body. 

 

"That's still a healthy chunk of bait, but it works on these big catfish," he said. "I also use chicken breast chunks soaked in WD-40. I use both, because on some days, they seem to prefer one over the other, so I have both just in case."

 

Porter said that the best action has been more toward shallow water, with a lot of fish being taken in the 15- to 22-foot depth range. Areas around the larger creeks such as Colonel's, Beaver and June creeks have been very productive.

 

"The vast majority of the time, I'm drift-fishing, using the standard drift rig," Porter said. "I'm using 20-pound Trilene Big Game line, 4/0 and 6/0 circle hooks and a 3/4 or one-ounce drift weight. I use 7-foot Shakespeare rods and ABU 5500 and 6500 baitcasting reels."