You pull up to a beautiful spot. You have your gear and bait ready to catch catfish. You set everything up and then you have to decide where to cast. Where to cast when fishing for catfish is a daunting questions.
Most people who are fishing in a lake or large river, can’t tell the difference between one spot from the other so they cast as far out into the middle as they can reach. This is the least effective way to catch catfish. So here are some tips to finding where to cast when cat fishing from shore.
1: Deeper does not mean better
The biggest catfish I ever caught (69 lb blue catfish) was caught in 4 feet of water. The third biggest catfish I ever caught (53 lb flathead) was caught in 4 feet of water, 10 feet from shore. Often when I fish lakes I am fishing feet from the bank. Deeper is not always better.
2. Start close and work your way out
If you want to catch more than one or two fish don’t cast far out first. If you hook a fish out far from shore, you must reel in a thrashing freaked out fish past every other fish in that hole. The biggest smartest catfish, won’t stay around if a thrashing 3 pounder is dragged across the top of the head. If you catch all the close fish first, then you are less likely to disturb the remaining fish.
3: Focus on structures and features
Structures are submerged items like trees, sunken culverts, big rocks ect. These are great places for catfish to hide and hunt. Features are where two types of environments meet. Some common features are where a fast current meets a slow current. Or the border of a reed bed or the slope in between deep and shallow water. Humps and holes can be awesome features when fishing a wide expansive flat. Features are another great place to find catfish.
4. Use a Marker Float
When you look out across a large lake you can not tell where the humps, holes, weed beds, drop off and sunken logs are by looking at the surface. A marker float solves that problem. A marker float is basically a buoy that is tied onto the end of your mainline with a sliding sinker running along your mainline above the buoy.
You cast the mark float and lead out into the lake and drag the lead and buoy along the bottoms feeling the bottom. When you find an interesting feature, you let out some line until the buoy pops to the surface. You then know that feature is directly underneath the float and you know where to cast.
By measuring the amount of line it takes for the marker float to break the surface you also know the depth. This is key if you are fishing with bobbers or if you are trying to find depth changes.
5. Move around
If you want to find the best place to cast, you have to cast to a lot of places. In the day time catfish tend to stay in around certain features and then rove around at night. So if you are fishing in the day time (especially in the winter), and you don’t get a bite within 15 minutes of casting then dont wait for a fish to come to you. After you have landed a couple fish if you don’t get another bite within about 15 minutes then move.
6. Keep a journal.
If you fish the same place a lot then keep a journal. Write down the features you find and the spots you’ve tried. Each time you catch a fish, write down what you caught him on and the conditions: water temperatures, time of day, time of year ect. Not only does preserving this data help you analyze your favorite cat fishing holes, the effort of recording this data forces you to pay attention to these factors and you will see patterns.