How to catch catfish on mussel beds

mussel beds
Team Drifting Stix – Jason Henderson, Jason Wolfe, and Clay Henderson show off three catfish caught recently while fishing mussel beds at Santee.

Mussel beds provide fast action for hungry catfish

The catfish are biting on lakes and rivers all across the Carolinas. Clay Henderson of Rock Hill, SC said one of the best ways to catch them is anchoring atop mussel beds and offering them cut bait on multiple rods.

Henderson is a big fan of drifting for catfish. He owns and operates Drifting Stix, a flexible weight made especially for drifting. But at times, he has more luck fishing shallow areas full of freshwater mussels. The mussels make easy meals for catfish.

“These shallow areas aren’t necessarily close to shore. I prefer mussel beds that are located in the open, surrounded by deep water,” said Henderson. He finds these beds with his electronics, and said some anglers have a difficult time recognizing them.

“The best way I can describe it is that on your electronics, mussel beds look like images of the shrubs or bushes around your house. That, or little drawings of clouds,” he said.

Catfish swallow mussels whole — shell and all

Mussel beds are especially good to find when the bite is tough in deep water. It’s also good when the wind is either too strong to drift or when no wind at all is present. The beds can produce catfish quickly, and in big numbers.

“The thing about mussel beds is catfish don’t like to hang out or congregate on those beds. They like to come in out of deep water, eat some mussels, then move back to deeper water. They are only coming to those beds for one reason, and that’s to eat,” he said.

Once he finds a mussel bed, Henderson anchors the front and back of the boat, casts out multiple lines baited with fresh cut bait, places the rods in rod holders, then waits. It’s usually not long before a rod goes down. But if he doesn’t get a bite pretty quickly, this is one area he’ll give it a little extra time. Multiple bites often come in succession, even on days when it’s been tough to catch fish with other methods.

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1838 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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