October is a prime time to catch the grand slam of catfish — channels, blues, whites and flatheads — in a single trip to Lake Murray, according to guide Chris Simpson of Greenwood, S.C.
“It’s not going to happen every day, but it’s not uncommon, and as a bonus, you will usually catch a nice striper or two,” said Simpson (864-992-2352).
“Although last (year) was not nearly as good because of all the flooding and the unseasonably warm weather, October is typically one of the better months for catfish on Lake Murray. Hopefully we won’t have to contend with that this year.”
In early October, if the lake hasn’t turned over, Simpson said catfish will still be fairly shallow, in the 10- to 25-foot range.
“You will find that the backs of the creeks, the shallower flats in that depth range and the humps that top out around that depth are the best areas to target at this time. You can drift over, in and out of these areas, or you can anchor in the same areas,” he said.
“Once the lake turns over, fish will start roaming at any depth they want to be in, from as shallow as 5 feet all the way down to 40 or 50 feet, even 60 feet. Then, I will be exclusively drifting.”
Simpson said plenty of fish will be on the humps, points and flats, but some will also be starting to relate to creek channels and the main-river channels.
“Usually by later in the month, you find the channel edges will be a lot more productive than other areas on some days, and that trend will follow right on into November,” he said. “By late October into November, you may notice fewer and fewer fish in the shallower water, 15 feet or less.
Although he will put out a few live-bait lines in hopes of attracting a flathead, Simpson is mostly fishing cut bait this time of year, even when drifting.
“Small pieces of cut blueback herring or shad will get a lot more bites, but dragging a bigger chunk of perch or a perch head could get you the fish of a lifetime,” he said. “On a typical day in October and into November, you may be looking at catching 15 to 18 catfish, and on better days, maybe 25. The majority will usually be channel catfish and, depending on what size class of fish are in the school you find, they could run 3 to 6 pounds or you could get into fish 8 to 14 pounds.”
White catfish will range from 2 to 5 pounds, and Simpson said the lake has held a lot of smaller blue catfish the past few years, from 3 to 10 pounds. But, he said, the possibility is there to land a much bigger blue, from 20 up to 60 pounds or more. A bonus flathead can range anywhere from 1½ pounds all the way up to 50 to 60 pounds.
“(This) is definitely a nice time to fish Lake Murray. There is less traffic, the weather fronts don’t mess them up as much and it seems like a little cold snap will just trigger them to eat,” said Simpson.