August is known as the “dog days of summer” but when it comes to fishing, this hot weather can produce some of the best cats of the year. The key to success on your favorite catfish lake is versatility, based on the type of catfish species you target. Most large lakes in South Carolina have channel and blue catfish, and many have good populations of flatheads as well. If you have a plan, you can score huge catches and big fish using the right techniques and baits this month.
According to Rodger Taylor, who guides on Lake Wylie and Lake Wateree, one of the keys to successful fishing by day is to stay on the move until you locate fish.
“Drift-fishing is ideal for summertime fishing,” said Taylor (803-328-9587). “It’s a proven, year-round tactic, and during the summer, the metabolic rate of catfish is higher. Drifting allows the bait to move along the bottom and enables the angler to effectively fish a large area. The catfish are often more likely to chase a bait in hot weather, and since they often follow forage fish, when drift-fishing, you find and pinpoint the bait and catfish. If you get on a lot of catfish, you can always use multiple drifts or anchor and cast to a specific spot.”
Kevin Davis (843-312-3080) a guide who fishes both Santee Cooper lakes, said to fish some identifiable targets whether drifting or anchor fishing.
“It’s always a good bet, especially for really large fish, to be fishing a specific target, whether drifting or anchoring,” Davis said. “The drift target can be a long stretch of a river or creek ledge, a large hump or a point or series of humps and deeper holes. Catfish relate to these identifiable targets much as many gamefish species, and by focusing your efforts there, you can score big catches consistently. Find a hotspot, and you can anchor. The depths will vary from one lake to the next, but often you will be surprised at how shallow catfish can be caught during August.”
A final dog days tip comes from Chris Simpson (864-992-2352), who guides on Lake Murray, Lake Greenwood and Lake Monticello and has fished all of the Savannah River lakes as well.
“One major factor is the bait,” Simpson said. “Using different baits will enable to you target different species of catfish or multiple species at once. Almost any catfish will hit live bait, but those are often best for flatheads. Cut shad or herring are great for blues and good for channel catfish. During this time of the year, I use stinkbaits a lot, and that is absolutely lethal on big channel catfish as well as blue catfish. Select the type of bait for the fish species you target.”
Simpson said research and fish a lake that has the species you target or a lake that has at least two or even all three major species in good numbers.
Taylor said that ultimately, the key for any South Carolina Lake you fish for catfish will be your versatility.
“I will also fish at night during August but will usually anchor on a specific target,” he said. “But I still move after giving a place a reasonable time.
“Put this plan to work, and the dog days of August can get real catty in terms of catching catfish,” Taylor said.