One of my favorite hobbies is to fish. Some people like to think that fishing is only good in the warm season. However, truth be known, you can fish any time of the year.
Catfish fishing is always fun
Catfish are scavengers. They are not precise in what they eat. Their diet stays the same the year around.
The good thing about fishing in the winter is that there usually isn’t very many people that fish at that time of the year. This increases your chances of catching a good size fish.
In the winter blue and channel catfish are the most active feeders, and flatheads are less active. As the water temperature drops, the less active they are. In cold water, shad tend to die quickly, and catfish will feed on them.
Bait to use
Shad is a great bait to use when fishing for catfish in the winter. However, you can use minnows or artificial shiners, too as bait. You can normally get them at your neighborhood bait or fishing shop.
When you put the minnows or shad on your hook, you hook them through both eyes. This allows for some tail action in the water. Use a bell or slip sinker to help keep the bait on the bottom. The bait should be about 2 to 3 inches long.
Another good bait is freshwater mussels. Many times Catfish will congregate around mussel beds in the winter time. The mussels keep them supplied with fresh food.
The good thing about this is that mussels are usually found in water about 3 to 6 feet deep. Locate a mussel bed, and you will spot catfish. Mussel beds are fairly consistent each year. You can find them by taking a long pole and just dig around in the mud or near a rocky bank. Blues and channel catfish especially like mussels.
I said earlier that flatheads are hard to catch in the winter. But, I didn’t say you couldn’t find them. Flatheads don’t congregate in deep holes. They seek out areas with heavy bottom cover. It doesn’t matter if it is shallow or deep. They love logs, large rocks, and brush pile treetops.
Flatheads fishing technique
A proper technique in fishing for flatheads is to rig a shad or shiner on your line and fish vertically over a rocky bottom. Fish straight down to avoid hangups on logs or brush. Only move your bait about a foot up or down. Many times the up and down action will attract the Flathead.
Winter fishing is much like regular season fishing. You can fish from a bank, dock, or boat. You just need to pick a spot where you know the Catfish is.
Many individuals like to do drift fishing. This is where you get in a boat and motor to your favorite spot and just drift around fishing. However, you can be just as successful from a bank, if you can find the right place to fish.
Patience is the key
You have to stay calm and wait them out. Once your line is in the water, leave it in for 20 to 30 minutes before checking it. Catfish are slow feeders. Once they get attracted though to your bait, they will stay and eventually hit it.
Dress warmly. Take a thermos of warm drink. Relax and enjoy yourself. Don’t assume that they aren’t biting when you get no immediate hits.
It’s not the gear that does catch catfish in winter, it’s you and your patience.
Winter slows down fish feeding. But, just like all of us, they have to eat sometime.
Be prepared for hangups
When you fish for catfish, you are always going into a congested area that allows for hangups. This is where they are located.
Don’t get frustrated when you get hung up on a log or brush. Just be prepared for it. Many times you can avoid a hangup by simply moving your line up and down slowly and getting a feeling for the area you are fishing in.
To me, there is nothing so exciting as catching a big fish. I don’t care what time of the season it is. Catching a big catfish makes even more fun and challenging.
sources; Outdoor Guide, Jim Spencer