Lexington’s Maynard Edwards, a veteran High Rock Lake guide, is always tinkering with new ideas to catch fish. This month, he came up with a doozy. I know a lot of people have started using planer boards to catch striped bass, but I think hardly anyone’s used planer boards for catfish — until now,” he said.

“I thought it might give us a better chance to cover more water,” said Edwards (336-249-6782). “I thought of doing this when we started pulling Alabama rigs with planer boards for stripers.”

Edwards’ idea was to use homemade planer boards that are a little larger than factory made models – he calls his boards “Extreme Planers” – to keep them from being pulled under the surface by the heavier weights needed to get baits closer to the bottom where catfish live.

“I put a 1 ½-ounce glider weight on them, a Santee (float) rig, and tied on 8/0 circle hooks,” said Edwards, who started using planer boards for stripers three or four years ago. “We found our strike ratio went up by getting baits away from the boat.

“I set the tension control across the planers a little tighter,” said Edwards, who gradually increased the size of his glider weights to 2 ounces. “Surprisingly, we caught a big flathead catfish the first planer bait I put out, and since then, we’ve caught blues and channels.”

 “Surprisingly, we caught a big flathead catfish the first planer bait I put out, and since then have caught blue and channel cats.”

Edwards has mostly slow-trolled the planer boards and also free-line rods weighted with baits that bump across structure, pulling as many as eight rods at a time. Best bites have come 10 to 14 feet deep after baits – mostly gizzard shad he catches in a cast net – and weights drop off from flats edges.

“The channel cats weigh from 2 to 10 pounds with an average of 4 to 6 pounds,” he said. “But the last two trips, we also hooked big blue cats. The first one probably weighed 20 pounds, but it came to the surface and started thrashing and rolling and shook the hook.

“A day later, we hooked a monster flathead we couldn’t do anything with. A 15-year-old boy tried to reel that flathead up, and he couldn’t get him within 10 feet of the surface; the fish bent the rod double and he’d go under the boat. Any closer, and the fish’d pull drag, and it finally came unbuttoned. I’d guess that one weighed at least 40 pounds.”

Edwards trolls main-river and creek drop-offs. His best success has come near creek mouths in 10 to 15 feet of water and also on main-lake humps and ridges.

Edwards said anyone who wanted to fill up a cooler with good-eatin’ size channel cats should try planer boarding at High Rock.

“Everyone who’s fished this way with me said it’s the coolest thing they’ve ever seen,” he said.