The huge blue catfish was caught on Lake Moultrie on Febr. 8. A regular client of Smith's, Joel Lambert of Swannanoa, N.C., handled the rod and reel duties.
"This is deep-water fishing season, but the presentation must be perfect," Smith said. "This particular fish was the best of a run of nine fish we caught in about a 40-minute period. We were using cut gizzard shad as bait and were fishing a drop in Lake Moultrie that fell from 26 to 50 feet deep; however, that day the fish were along the ledge, not on the top or at the bottom.
"As I worked along the ledge, we caught seven fish in the 18- to 28-pound class, plus another 42-pound blue I was actually (unhooking) when the big fish bit. It took a while to get the fish in the boat' it pulled us around for a while. Joel Lambert had caught big catfish with me before and did a great job. We had the fish certified and weighed by SCDNR personnel and then released (it) back into the lake."
Smith (803-324-7912) said the key to catching this fish was his ability to maintain precise boat control.
"The wind had been real strong that morning," Smith said. "I marked a bunch of big fish on this underwater ridge, but we couldn't fish it by anchoring. Regular drifting wouldn't work because the wind was so strong. But about mid-day, the wind just almost quit blowing; there wasn't enough wind to drift. But I've been perfecting a back- trolling method, so I put out drift socks in the front of the boat, cranked the big motor and put it in reverse. I was able to slowly back-troll that ledge where these big fish were marked and kept the boat right on target.
"The 91-pounder was caught in 36 feet of water, and all of the big fish were caught in that same general depth. The back-trolling and precise presentation was the key to catching that big fish."
Smith's latest trophy blue was caught on an 8-foot Shakespeare Downrigger Tiger rod mated with an ABU reel spooled with 25-pound test line and a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader.
"The fluorocarbon leader is crucial, and the heavier leader is needed to withstand the scraping of the line by these big fish when hooked," Smith said. "I use 5/0 Gamakatsu circle hooks for all my catfishing."
Smith said the deepwater bite for big catfish should begin to transition into action in shallower water over the next few weeks.