Cover a variety of depths for Gaston’s catfish this month
With any luck, North Carolina will begin to see signs of a temperature decline in September. But even if the heat hangs on, Lake Gaston’s blue catfish will be feeling frisky with anticipation. According to guide Zakk Royce of Gasburg, Va, — the fish will be biting — but an angler will need to cover a variety of water depths to find the fish.
“The water temperature may still be warm, but September is a transition month, and shorter days and cooler nights are on the way,” said Royce (919-724-2474), of Blues Brothers Catfishing Guide Service. “Also, all groups of blues will have the spawn way behind them. Their energy level will be back up, and they’ll be hungry again. All these things come together to make super-aggressive fish. Having two or three fish on at a time is common.
“You won’t be able to count on a particular depth. But it’s not too complicated to find them. I usually start in the main-lake coves because the fish can run between shallow and deep water quickly. Then I venture out to the main lake channel ledges if necessary. The coves I target are where small feeder creeks dump into the lake. They’re usually less than a-half mile long. I can troll depths from 25 to 30 feet in the mouth to 5 feet in the back in a short amount of time. If I’m not getting bit, I back out to the main-channel ledges and troll in 30 to 40 feet of water.”
Keep the speed down
Royce does most of his trolling with a spread of rigs bumping the bottom at a speed of a ½ to 1 mph. He may add a float rig if fish appear to be suspended, especially in early September during a particularly hot year when a thermocline may still be present. He runs six rods in the spread. Two face straight back and two off each gunwale spread out by planer boards. They all pull Santee rigs featuring slinky weights ranging from 1 ½ ounces for the rigs on planers, to 2 ½ ounces for the others. The 7/0 to 9/0 circle hooks will carry cut shad or perch.
If blues are not in coves or the main-river channel, Royce resorts to checking main-lake points in 10 to 20 feet for fish that are still munching mussels in their summer pattern. The most-productive will be in close proximity to deep water such as a creek channel or the main river channel.
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