It’s tough to beat May for catfish on the Santee Cooper lakes, and fishing for them this time of year is a bit different than it has been for several months. Anglers can still expect to catch a trophy, but they’ll do it with a different technique.

Gene Crawford, who guides out of  Blacks Camp, said May is one of his favorite times of the year to catch big cats in Lake Moultrie.

“I love catching them year-round, but this time of year is a lot different than the winter,” he said. “This time of year, we are catching the big cats in some really shallow water. Don’t get me wrong, I love catching them in deep water throughout the cold months, but there is something special about hooking into a trophy blue catfish in 4 feet of water.”¬†

These fish like to relate to some type of structure or any change in the lake bottom, so if you can find shallow water that is littered with debris or has a shallow hole close to deeper water, you’re in a good spot for catfish.

A lot of anglers don’t venture any farther away than the Diversion Canal that separates Lake Moultrie from Lake Marion.

Live bream or mullet are great baits, but these fish will hit cut bait, too. Anchoring down within casting distance of your desired fishing hole, then fan-casting several rods is a good strategy.

“You want to put as many baits on that hole as you can. Once you’ve got that covered, you can put the rods in rod holders, then kick back and wait. I don’t like to sit very long if I’m not getting bit, and you want to keep fresh baits on your hooks,” said Crawford (843-209-3086).

On some days, the action is non-stop, and Crawford will scale down to just two or three rods. Other days, he will have six or eight out at a time.

Crawford uses 8 1/2-foot Ugly Stik rods, Abu Garcia 6500 casting reels, 30-pound test line, and 5/0 hooks.

“There are plenty of shallow areas that are near debris fields, deeper water, or both. If you’re not getting bitten pretty quickly, don’t waste time. Pull up anchor and find another spot,” he said. “Once I have all my baits set, I like to give it 10 minutes. If I don’t get a bite by then, I’m going to reel everything up and move,” he said.