With all the water flowing through the Catawba River system this year, the reservoir at the bottom of the chain, LakeWateree, has literally had an up and down year in terms of water levels, but the catfishing has been great.
Chuck Porter of Sumter, a veteran Lake Wateree fisherman, has found the extra water flow to be very positive for catching catfish.
"With all the flooding and then receding water, some species have suffered,” Porter said. "But the water flow through the lake has the catfish on a feeding binge, and we're catching lots of big blue catfish, as well as more large channel catfish than I've seen in a while.
“I've consistently caught some 6-pound and larger channel cats recently, which is good for Lake Wateree. This has been a good summer, and right now, despite August heat and humidity, I'm seeing some of the best catfishing of the entire summer, with blue catfish over 20 pounds not unusual and big channel catfish being caught."
Porter's technique is two-fold, and both techniques work on both species.
"I'm an early starter in order to beat the heat, so I get out before dawn and anchor fish while it's still dark or just getting light and usually catch several catfish quickly," Porter said. "I'll use chicken breast soaked in WD-40, bream, perch and shad as bait. Different days will provide different results on these baits, so I ensure I have them all with me.
"I am fishing on or near the main lake – we’ve usually got current – and I'll fish points and humps early anchored up," Porter said. "I'll cast around the boat from shallow water and into deep water using a variety of the baits until I get a bait pattern. But of all these, the bream and perch are usually the most consistent for big blue catfish.
“Once the sun gets up and the breeze kicks in, I'll start drifting the flats near the channel ledges and around the creek mouths.
“When drifting right now, I am able to catch fish from fairly shallow water, in 10 feet or less, all the way down to 35 feet of water," he said. "Often, by this time of year, the deep-water fishing is slower on the lower end of the lake because the lake will stratify, but this year, the water flow has kept the fish active at a variety of depths. And that changing water level and flooding may have turned off some species, but the catfish action has been good and now is even better."