Anglers looking for some catfish action will find it at Lake Murray, especially if they fish at night and use stink bait on the bottom. Channel catfish and blues of various sizes are the two main whiskered-fish that are easy to catch right now, and Leesville’s Tony Alexander said he doesn’t see any sign of the bite slowing down.
Alexander fishes on Lake Murray several times a week, and has been doing so for more than a decade. He said he has never seen the catfish bite as consistently as they have been for the past several weeks.
“When I’m catfishing, I usually put out six rods at a time, but lately I’ve had to put two rods up right away because the fish are biting so hard. I just can’t handle that many lines out at once when they are biting like this,” said Alexander, who said he has learned a few lessons in the past few weeks.
“I don’t usually have much luck fishing when the barometric pressure is really low, but I’ve found out that isn’t the case when I’m fishing at night. I began fishing at night when it was so hot in the daytime, and I usually don’t fish at all when the barometric pressure is as low as it has been lately,” said Alexander, explaining that the 29.85 reading on the pressure scale would have kept him off the lake entirely in years past.
“I think the fishing is still bad when the pressure is that low, during daylight hours, but at night, it’s a whole different story. The fishing has been incredible, and that’s when the wind is from the east, west, north, or south. Those factors just don’t seem to have that big of an impact at night,” he said.
Alexander has been catching most of his catfish near mussel beds on main lake points and in flats. He said the cats are holding in 10 to 15-feet of water, especially when that depth is close to very deep water. “In a lot of these areas, a big portion is 5 or 6-feet deep, with a small portion being 10 to 15-feet deep. When these areas and depths end, it’s usually where it drops off drastically to 50 or 60-feet. That 10 to 15-foot hole is where I’m finding them, and that is consistent night after night in several different areas,” he said.
Alexander is catching all his catfish on dip worms filled with stink bait. “I use two different stink baits every night. One is smooth like peanut butter and it’s called Secret 7 Stink Bait. The other is Sonny’s Stink Bait, and I put three rods out with one type, and three rods out with the other. I put the stink bait in a 2 1/2-inch long Cool Cat Dip Worm, and that combination of those two different stink baits really puts a lot of smell in the water. Even on nights when I get bites right away, the longer I stay in one spot, the better the fishing gets because that stink bait really spreads out and draws them in,” he said.
For tackle, Alexander goes a little smaller than most people would think. “I’m mainly going for eating sized catfish so I don’t use heavy gear. I usa a Carolina-rig with a 1/2-ounce weight, and I fish with medium-light rods and bait clicker-equipped baitcast reels, 15-pound test line, and a number 3 swivel. I buy the dip worms unrigged, and rig them myself with 1/0 Tru-Turn hooks. I stay away from treble hooks because they are too hard to get out of a fish’s mouth,” he said.
Alexander said anglers looking to target blues should concentrate on mussel beds that are near moving water. The channel cats are biting in the more calm pockets of water.