The James River is one of the most prolific blue catfish fisheries on the planet. There’s few other places you can go and expect to catch a fish greater than 40 pounds on a daily basis and have a strong chance at hooking one 40-70 pounds. The fishery is strong from Williamsburg to Richmond, but we chose to target the Hopewell area due to the high probability of catching trophy fish.
Our focus wasn’t only fun fishing. We booked a guide to do perform an unbiased East Coast test of our Catfish Nectar. The goal was to test Catfish Nectar soaked baits vs using cut bait by itself. And, what better fishery to focus on than one that’s world famous?
Pautzke’s new Catfish Nectar is unlike most of the catfish scents on the market. It’s a liquid base designed to be soaked overnight into all catfish baits. It’s ideal to marinate into mackerel, sardines, livers, eel, shad, minnows, anchovies, shrimp and just about anything else used to catch cats. The Nectar soaks into the baits and slowly seeps out while fishing creating a stronger scent trail. We wanted to test it further in a large river system, with murky water. Central Virginia’s James River fit that mold.
We didn’t get the soak that we hoped for prior to flying to the East Coast. Normally, we add the scent the night prior to be ready by the next morning. Meanwhile, our shorter soak proved to be long enough. On arrival and meeting up with our old buddy guide Chris Eberwien of Eberwien’s Catfish’n we grabbed the shad and other fish that were slated for bait, put them in a plastic bag and dumped two full bottles of Catfish Nectar in them. The baits were fished on Medium-Heavy Ugly Sticks, with 50-pound Berkely Big Game and on 5/0 and 8/0 Gamakatsu hooks.
Catfish Nectar is a scent that needs to be soaked, enabling it to penetrate into the meat of the bait it’s being applied to. That soak can be effective in as short as 30 minutes, but works best if you give it half day. On the other hand, we started using the bait within two hours. Since we fished from 9am to 6pm, our afternoon baits were ripe and ready to fish.
If you’ve been on Eberwien’s boat, using countless rods is no stranger. This is why we chose to run this test with him. Eberwien opted to run half our rods with cut bait scented with Catfish Nectar and the rest without. Fortunately, our two largest catfish of the day came on piece of shad soaked in the Catfish Nectar. We weren’t going for numbers on this trip, rather size and ended the day with four big cats, a 66, 44, 37 and 34 pounder, and one small 10 pounder. Three out of the four cats (the 37 wasn’t caught on the scented bait) came on baits that were soaked in Catfish Nectar in the plastic bag.
Except for a small 10-day period where catfish spawn on the James River, Eberwien says catfish season never slows on the James River. It’s one of the nation’s best fisheries and hard to compete with when it comes to trophy fish. If you head up towards the Richmond area you’ll find more action on smaller fish, but better eating-size cats.
Editor’s Note: For more info on Chris Eberwien and Eberwien’s Catfish’n please visit http://www.catfishingva.com. Catfish Nectar is available in most Central Virginia Walmart stores.