Catfish action has been good at Lake Wateree throughout the summer, but in September, the cats really begin to prowl, especially at night. Guide Rodger Taylor has learned where they’re prowling and has been making big catches of quality fish from very skinny water at night.
“It’s becoming one of my favorite ways to catfish,” Taylor said. “Even in September, the days are often hot, but at night the cooler temperatures are great. I’ll typically start fishing while it’s still light and may fish some traditional places closer to a ledge or drop before dark. But whether we catch fish there or not, when the sun sinks, I head for shallow water because that’s where many of the big cats go.”
Taylor (803-328-9587) said that the water he’s fishing is shallow enough that he’s anchoring in about two feet of water.
“One of the important things I do it is to really get away from the river channel at night and go back into the creeks,” Taylor said. “You can get on a shallow point part-way up a creek or just go way back in a creek and fish the really shallow water. If there has been a recent rain, I will definitely go to the back end of these creeks. Even a slight bit of water movement and water color will greatly enhance your chance for success on really big fish. Even if there is no current and they begin pulling water at the dam after dark, you’ll get that current in the back of the creeks and that’s enough to turn big fish on.
“An ideal setup for me is to anchor in a couple feet of water and fan-cast around the boat, but have some baits in about four feet of water, and that would be the deepest water in the area,” Taylor said. “However, bites are likely to come from any depth at night at this time of the year.”
Taylor rigs a bit differently at night than he does during the daytime. He will use a drift-rig setup with a leader and 2-inch float with a circle hook, but he will use a 2-ounce weight above the leader since he is anchored.
“The float will keep the bait just off the bottom in the shallow water,” he said. “Much of the water in the back of creeks in Wateree is a mud bottom and I don’t want the scent to get lost in that. Plus, being off the bottom, with just a little current, the scent is much more effective. I’ll vary my baits, but gizzard shad ranks at or near the top in September and into October. But cut white perch, bream, as well as threadfin shad can all be productive.”
Taylor’s tackle consists of 7-foot Ugly Sticks with baitcasting reels spooled with 20- pound line and an 18- to 24-inch leader of slightly heavier line with 6/0 Gamakatsu circle hook. He’ll mix both large and medium sized baits until he sees the pattern for the evening.
“Hooking a 20-pound – or often much larger – catfish in that shallow water is super-exciting in the dark, he said.”The catfish have no deep water to go to so they immediately wallow on the surface, and it’s literally a splashing good time for all as the fish is fought to the boat.”