Lake Hartwell’s channel cats are feasting on stinkbait

Easting-sized channel catfish are biting strong on Lake Hartwell.

Most fish coming out of 20 to 25 feet of water

Channel catfish are some of the best-eating fish on the table, especially cut in small chunks, fried golden brown and served with a side of cole slaw. If you have fresh catfish on your mind, Lake Hartwell is the place to go.

“The channel cats will bite just about anything right now. But the stink bait is the best without a doubt,” said Bill Plumley (864-287-2120) of Capt. Bill’s Fishing Adventures. “They range from about 1 to 3 pounds. You can occasionally catch a 5-pounder, but they’re all good eating size. You could probably catch 15 to 25 in a 4- to 6-hour trip.”

Pieces of swim noodles do the trick

For bait, Plumley suggests Hoss’ Hog Bait presented in a rather unique way. He cuts a half-inch section off of a swim noodle – the kind kids use in swimming pools. This results in a piece of foam that looks like a doughnut. He makes one more cut so the foam is in the shape of a slice of cantaloupe. Then he cuts small sections off that slice and dips them in the stinkbait before casting them out.

“I use a Carolina rig with an 18-inch leader and let it sink to the bottom,” Plumley said. “The piece of swim noodle floats that stinkbait off the bottom. All a fish has to do is swim by, take a bite and keep on moving.”

These fish also bite both live and cut herring. But the stinkbait is definitely the top producer. Plumley suggests fishing on points in about 20 to 25 feet of water. He suggests anglers use spinning tackle over baitcasting gear for a more delicate casting approach.

“It seems that I don’t have to throw the spinning reels nearly as hard when casting to get a good distance,” he said. “That way you don’t throw your bait off the hook when you’re trying to cast.

Plumley uses 8- to 10-pound test line for channel cats and recommends Trilene XL or something similar.

Click here to read about Lake Murray’s big channel catfish, and how to catch them.

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