Guide Justin Whiteside will present all sizes of baits for catfish on Lake Monticello, but when he uses huge baits for big fish, he often adds a stinger surprise for the big blues.

“A big blue catfish can easily swallow a 14-inch gizzards shad or huge white perch,” he said. “But sometimes, they’ll scoop the bait up and move off and won’t have the hook in their mouth, just the back end of the slab of meat. To cure this problem, I use a stinger hook rig I make just for this type fishing.” 

Whiteside will use a 7/0 Kahle  hook with a No. 2 treble hook as the stinger. He hooks the bait in the mouth with the Kahle hook, and the treble is set a few inches below it to hook into the tag end of the big bait.

“I’ll snell the J-hook on the leader line, then snell the treble hook to complete the rig,” he said. “With the big hook snelled, I can slide it up or down the line. I have dramatically increased my big catfish hookup and landing rate with big baits using this technique. It also helps when a frisky blue catfish with eyes bigger than his stomach grabs the bait.”

Whiteside said fish in the 5- to 10-pound class will grab the big baits, and he’ll hook them on the stinger hook only. 

“Whether we are keeping fish or not, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to catch a 10-pound fish,” he said. “Plus, it vastly improves my odds when we hook those giant fish Monticello produces.”