December is one of the better months for hooking a blue catfish weighing 30 pounds or more from North Carolina’s Blewett Falls Lake. Once the water temperature drops below 60 degrees, the bite is on, according to Robbie Burr, who has recently retired after a long career guiding fishermen.
“The best spots are the same ones every winter,” said Burr. “They don’t change much from year to year.”
One reliable hole for blue catfish is known locally as “the logjam.” Fishermen can’t miss it because it’s an extended point in front of the dam that’s marked with a buoy.
“Driftwood, trees and logs collect in the area, and shad are drawn to the wood,” Burr said. “In turn, the shad attract hungry blues.”
The water around the logjam is 20 to 30 feet deep and features a strong current if the lake is being pulled.
Consequently, Burr either anchors or ties onto a sturdy piece of wood to fish the hot spot, setting out six to eight 7-foot, medium-action Shakespeare Tiger Ugly Stiks rods with baits spider-rigged around his boat. His ABU 7000 reels are spooled with 100-pound test Power Pro braid.
“The forgiving medium-action rod complements the no-stretch braided line, or something is going to give once a big blue latches on,” said Burr.
Burr ties the braided line to a barrel swivel with a Palomar knot. To the other end of the swivel, he ties a 13- to 14-inch leader of 80-pound monofilament, also using a Palomar knot. Before connecting the main line to the swivel, he slides on a 1- or 2-ounce flat, no-snag weight. A No. 8/0 snelled circle hook holds cut shad for bait. An in-line float is placed about 12 inches above the hook to keep the bait off the bottom.
“Live bait is hard to keep alive in the winter,” said Burr. “Blues, unlike flatheads, will readily hit cut bait.”
Burr uses a vertical presentation, staggering the baits at different depths.
If his sonar indicates baitfish are at the logjam, he anticipates plenty of action. If not, he gives the spot about 30 minutes to produce, then motors to the Grassy Island area, another winter hot spot where fish and forage often gather.
Lastly, Burr fishes any structure within the main channel in 20 to 35 feet of water.