Plumley said that ordinarily, trophy blue catfish for which Hartwell is gaining more repute each year start to pull out into deeper water around the first of May, but the low night-time temperatures that have arrived with late-spring cold fronts are helping to slow that transition, and catfish are responding in kind.
"Right now, some of the fish are in the spawn, while some are still prespawn and some are post-spawn," said Plumley. "What that means is that they are everywhere and, that's a good way to catch them."
Plumley (864-230-7363) reported a good trip earlier this week that resulted in five fish over 20 pounds, two that weighed 19 pounds each, and a half dozen that went between five and 15 pounds. He has been targeting these fish in mid-range depths from 10 to 20 feet of water, holding around any type of irregular bottom terrain: dropoffs, stumps, brush piles or just a depression in the bottom.
He's catching fish from the mouth of the two main tributary rivers halfway back. With catfish still in moderate depths, Plumley foregoes any type of anchoring and will nose his boat up on the bank and fan cast four to six lines out around the rear of the boat.
"Catfish are not schooling fish like you'd expect other fish to school," said Plumley. "I'll pull up on a spot that has the right structure in the right water depth and give it about 30 to 45 minutes after I get all my baits out. I'll typically catch two or three fish per spot, then it's on to the next location."
Though Plumley targets catfish with cut blueback herring or gizzard shad, he said anglers may have some trouble getting to the catfish with all the activity that is going on this time of year. Anglers should expect a mixed bag.