Try a balloon rig for big catfish

A balloon rig is an effective way for an anchored angler to cover more water without moving.

Justin Whiteside said he can tap into the suspended catfish action even from an anchored position, as easy as blowing up a balloon.

“When I anchor on a hump, one of the first rigs I put out is a rig for suspended fish,” he said. “Even if I am anchored on a shallow hump and the fish are marked on the bottom, I know that just off the hump in much deeper water, catfish are suspended at this time of year. I take a live, dollar bill-sized gizzard shad, and hook it up a few feet below a balloon. I blow the balloon up, tie a knot to keep the air in and then simply tie the balloon to the main line several feet above the bait.”

Whiteside said a little wind is great to help move the balloon away, and he’ll let it drift well away from the boat over deep water.

“Suspended catfish are cruising around the lake at the forage-line depth, and that’s often the first rig I’ll catch a fish on,” he said. “This rig enables me to check the suspended-fish action as well. I like my chances for big fish better fishing the bottom of humps and ledges, but if the action is hot on suspended fish, that’s great way to catch a bunch of catfish — and the balloon rigs let me know how that bite is going. I’ll focus on the bottom bite, but if the suspended bite is hot, I can change quickly to that and work deeper humps and points.”

About Terry Madewell 812 Articles
Award-winning writer and photographer Terry Madewell of Ridgeway, S.C., has been an outdoors writer for more than 30 years. He has a degree in wildlife and fisheries management and has a long career as a professional wildlife biologist/natural resources manager.

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