The channel catfish bite is on fire at Lake Murray, and catches of multiple channel catfish over 10 pounds are happening every day. According to guide Chris Simpson, channel cats are his primary quarry, and he’s catching around 20 fish per trip, some days many more than 25.
The really good news is that the fish are averaging between 6 to 12 pounds apiece, and many are in the double-digit size range,” he said. “We caught one last week that was 15 pounds. These fish fight hard, and pound-for-pound, I believe put up a better fight than blue catfish.”
Simpson (864-992-2352) said he begins most days fishing humps, ledges and points.
"The depths we'll fish will vary, but as the water warms and the lake begins to stratify, most of the fish will continue to be 10 to 25 feet deep for much of the summer," Simpson said. "That puts the fish in a very catchable depth range for most fishermen.
“I have found my favorite way for fast action on these big channel catfish is to use stink baits. I prefer Doc's Catfish Getter Dip Bait, but I’ll use Sonny’s Catfish Bait sometimes when I can’t find Doc’s, and other brands depending on what’s available,” he said. “I use a piece of sponge material, such as swimming noodles cut into strips, to hold the stink bait. I prefer a single, large 8/0 circle hook instead of the treble hook that many anglers use. I douse it in the stinky goo and fan cast the baits around the boat in different depths unit I find a depth pattern. But the depth pattern is likely to change from one spot to the next and as the time of day passes it can change. When we get on a good spot, the action is fast and furious for big channel catfish.
"Also, early in the morning and on cloudy days, we'll catch a lot of these big fish from relatively shallow water," he said. "First thing in the morning, I'll cast some bait in very shallow water. As the sun gets higher, the fish typically move a bit deeper, but I’ll keep baits in different depths, and that helps me stay on the fish as depth preferences change."
Simpson said fresh cut bait such as herring or shad will also work on channel catfish and will give anglers the opportunity to hook a big blue or even a flathead catfish.
"Using fresh cut bait, you never know what you're going to get, but blues are always a possibility" Simpson said. "I don’t always use cut bait at this time of year, because we usually have plenty of action anyway. A big blue catfish is a good addition to the catch anytime and there is a good population of big blues in Lake Murray."
Simpson said he uses 25-pound mono on his main line with a 50-pound monofilament leader. He said the size of the sinker will vary, but usually an ounce will work at the depths he’s fishing.