Catching Monticello’s frying-sized catfish

Frying-sized catfish are plentiful at Lake Monticello, and they bite well during summer. (Picture William Attaway)

Catfish feed heavily all summer at Lake Monticello

Summertime. And the catfishing is easy on Lake Monticello.

Once hot weather sets in, usually in mid to late June, Monticello is the go-to spot for filling a cooler with frying size catfish, according to Capt. William Attaway.

The fishing is easy because you just put your lines out with bait and drift, said Attaway who operates Slick Willie’s Guide Service (www.slickwilliesguideservice.com/). He guides on lakes Monticello, Murray and at Santee Cooper for catfish, and on Murray for striped bass.

“The fish are hanging high in the water column this time of year, so I don’t use any weight on the line,” Attaway said. “I think they do that because when they pump the water back up into the lake through the turbines it stirs the baitfish up and they also bring bait up through the turbines. The fish are just sitting there waiting to eat.”

Target suspending fish

Attaway said the catfish suspend in the top 10 to 15 feet of the water column, even in areas where the water is 100 feet deep. If he finds some fish a little lower in the water he will crimp on a split shot to get the bait down a little bit, he said.

“I like to use several different baits – white perch, bluegill, gizzard shad and chicken cut into small pieces,” Attaway said. “There are a lot of mussels in this lake and the catfish are feeding on them. That’s one reason I like to use chicken. I cut it into pieces no bigger than my thumb and it looks like a mussel floating in the water.”

Attaway said the catch this time of year consists mostly of small blue catfish and a few channel catfish from 1 to about 5 pounds. And anglers have the possibility of landing even bigger catfish up to 20 pounds.

“Monticello is the one place that I know you can catch fish in August,” he said. “On a good day you can usually get from 25 to 50 fish.”

Plenty for a summer fish fry.

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