It’s only takes a few inches of rising water for the catfish action to go from okay to great in the upper end of Lake Marion, and according to Andy Pack at Packs Landing, the water is rising and the catfish action is on.

“Almost every February the action gets great in a very short time span and that’s when the water begins to rise as we’re seeing it now,” Pack said. “When the water rises the blue catfish move up the lake in large numbers and bite like crazy.”

Pack (803-452-5514) said the rising water attracts roe shad and herring as well as catfish, and having plenty of baitfish in the upper end of the lake is crucial to have a lot of catfish.

“We’re seeing some big fish being caught, and typically, February is a prime time to have huge blues caught up here,” Pack said. “Now that the action has started, we’ll have excellent fishing action until summer, but for the really big catfish the next few weeks will be prime time.

Pack said there are basic patterns to find and catch the big blues.

“It’s essential to adapt to weather and water conditions, but there are some guidelines that I follow that help me find big catfish,” Pack said. “One is to use the wind as an advantage; on windy days, get on the side of the lake where the wind is hitting. The wind piles the shad up on the windy banks, especially in colder water. Plus, the choppy water is also conductive to the big blues moving shallow. When that happens, we can have some awesome fishing.

“Another pattern when the wind is not blowing is to get back in the cypress trees in the middle of flats,” he said. “If you can find a slightly deeper hole, that’s an excellent area. I fish around any deeper water, even only slightly deeper, as well as in the 3- to 5-foot water around the base of cypress trees. The big cats will get around those trees when they move up here.”

Another pattern is to fish the main river channel, he said. “I like to get on the inside bends of the river, and I’ll fish both up and down the river from Packs. I may catch catfish in a foot or two of water down to the middle of the river, 20 feet and deeper. I’ll keep baits in different depths on the river until I find a pattern.”

Pack said baits will change as the season progresses, but the big roe shad are running though the upper end, and that’s a major attraction for big catfish.

“The herring will be following the roe shad, but we can’t catch and sell herring until March 1,” he said. “When we start getting those, they’ll be as good a bait as you can find. But the big roe shad make excellent bait, as do gizzard shad.”

Pack said that stripers are making their way up the river, and February is a good time to catch some big fish.

“The great thing about the catfishing right now is that fishing any of these techniques a fisherman is likely to hook into stripers as well, in the flats as well as on the river,” he said. “The best striper fishing will occur when the herring are moving though in big numbers, and that’s not far off either. For now, big blue catfish are biting, and that action is just going to get better.”