With the rain and cold weather, fishermen have been finding catfish all over the place in terms of depths in the dingy to muddy water. But one very productive pattern is a bit different from others and that is catfish, specifically big blue catfish, are coming from very skinny water in Lake Wateree.
According to guide Rodger Taylor, it’s not an anomaly; it has been a consistent pattern for the past few years, but few anglers take advantage of it.
“Right now at Lake Wateree, we are catching catfish, lots of catfish, with several 30-pound plus fish and a few over 40 pounds from water ranging from three feet down to about eight feet deep,” Taylor said. “I am fishing in the back of creeks and coves on softer bottom substrate, and in most cases, I am anchoring almost on the shoreline and casting out to only three or four feet of water.”
Taylor (803-328-9587) said the catfish are there because an ample supply of forage is also there, but this is a consistent pattern through January, February and into March. Despite the severely cold weather, he has been scoring with heavy catches recently.
“This pattern is not wind related with wind blowing baitfish up on banks,” Taylor said. “In fact, most of the time I find sheltered water to anchor and fish. The bite is consistent, and we’ll get action every 15 to 20 mintues, but I won’t stay more than 40 minutes in most places without a bite. When I get on a good place, we’ll catch several fish and usually some big ones. There are plenty of fish in the “teen” class caught as well that make great eating. We usually release the large fish.”
Taylor uses his graph to mark shad and other forage, but he also keys on birds, both seagulls and cormorants.
“The birds know where baitfish are located, and they’ll gang up in areas where there’s a lot of bait, especially back in the very shallow areas,” he said. “A lot of anglers never check these places this time of year, but it’s been good fishing all January, even in those coldest days, and it’s really a strong pattern right now. It will usually last well into March. It is one of the more overlooked catfishing opportunities around.”
Taylor uses cut gizzard shad and white perch as his primary baits. He fishes 7-foot rods with baitcasting reels spooled with 20-pound line. The leader is about 18 inches long and he uses a 2-ounce flat sinker. On some rigs he will use a 2-inch float, similar to those used when drifting, just above a 6/0 circle hook. On some rigs, he won’t use a float.
“That gives the fish a preference opportunity, and some days, one method or the other will make a difference,” he said. “When it does seem to make a difference, I change them all to that method in terms of having a float to lift the bait up or have it on the bottom. Most days, they bite both rigs about the same.”
Taylor said fish can also be caught in deeper water, but this pattern is so consistent it is his ‘go-to’ style for guide trips at this time of the year.