January is typically a very good month for hefty blue catfish on Lake Marion, the action has really perked up with the cold weather, and some big catfish have been caught recently.
Guide Alan Spence of Manning said a lot of big catfish are coming from a variety of depths of water.
"Deep water – or near the edge of deep water – in the main part of the lower end of Lake Marion has been the most consistent place for big blues," Spence said. "However, the fish will be found near the forage, and while this time of year the wind is mostly from the north, if we have a change of wind direction that blows onto the north shoreline, the fish will bunch up there in relatively shallow water. When that happens, look for the blues in only a few feet of water. The key is, when the wind is blowing hard enough to do that at this time of the year, it' sometimes difficult to hold the anchor in those windblown areas."
Spence (803-478-5029) said his most dependable action has been in the wooded tree area and around the Little River portion of lower Lake Marion.
"The depths the fish are found will vary daily, and what I do is use my electronics to locate the catfish and forage in a general area," he said. "Then, I get just slightly away from the main area of the forage and fish there. If the wind is not too bad, I'll use a stump ring or tie a rope around a stump or tree and let the wind drift my pontoon over the spot I want to fish. I try to not drop an anchor if I am fishing vertically so I won't spook the fish. I'll drop gizzard shad to the depth fish are marked. Often, I'll vary the depth on the rods until I find the best depth pattern for that particular spot.
"On some days I will need to fan-cast around the boat, simply because that's the way the fish want it presented," he said. "In this case, I will tie one end of the boat off to an object such as tree or stump if it's available and very quietly ease an anchor down on the other end. The boat needs to be stable when casting flat lines. Again, I use gizzard shad as my bait. In fact, I recently started keeping them alive in a bait tank right up until I hook them on as bait. Thus, I have ultra-fresh bait, and it has seemed to make a noticeable difference in catching big fish recently."
Spence said that on some days a lot of catfish will be caught, but mostly this is just a great time to hook into several really big catfish.
"I urge my clients to go fishing on these cold, nasty days, because we're catching lots of really big catfish right now," Spence said. "I have a pontoon that's enclosed and have a heater if it's real cold, but sometimes these cold January days are the ones when we hook the really big fish."