By: Chris Shaffer
What a difference the weather makes when it comes to the catfish bite. On the heels of rain and snow over the weekend, stability Monday and another surprise cold rain Tuesday, Wednesday’s fair conditions brought a non-stop catfish bite on Kerr Lake. Blue catfish bit, and bit often, as temperatures rose and the sun stayed out.
Our day began at sunrise on North Carolina/Virginia’s Kerr Lake as we launched on the Virginia side and had bites within seconds of our first line hitting the water. Between 7am and 1pm we didn’t go longer than 10 minutes without a bite. We even caught a nice striper while targeting the cats.
Not surprisingly, the nearly two-dozen cats we landed ranged from a few pounds on up past citation size. No size pattern was consistent. We caught kitties from a small channel cat to and handful of teen size blues and a few much larger. All fish were released.
Historically in early spring shad and crappie start migrating toward the back of creeks and the catfish follow. This pattern is slowly starting now. In fact, this pattern did start back in February, but a cold March filled with rain, snow and Nor’easters pushed the catfish back into deeper water. As long as the traditional weather remains catfish will continue to head towards the creeks.
At lot like last year, Kerr Lake is seeing water levels at or higher than full pool. This is giving the catfish plenty of real estate to conquer. All our bites came on fresh caught shad soaked in Pautzke Catfish Nectar, basically the same bait that brought our success last year. The Nectar created a potent scent trail, which we all know catfish love. Since the water is still cool (we found it to be 44-49 degrees) we employed smaller pieces of bait. We used golf ball to baseball size pieces and fished them on a Mustad Demon 10/0 circle hooks. For a main line we used 30-pound Slimeline and a 50-pound Ande monofilament leader.
Given the current water conditions we opted to anchor fish. Our success came across the board from 15 to 25 feet of water. The key was fanning baits across that spectrum on long points that fall off into deeper water. Aim to get some baits on the points in shallower water and others in the channel. As the water gets warmer and fish become more active drifting will become effective, too.
*Catfish Nectar is available at many Virginia and North Carolina Walmart and Bass Pro Shops locations and locally at Bobcats Bait & Tackle.
Editor’s Note: Wes Jordan operates Redbeard Cats Guide Service. For more info on his guided Kerr Lake catfish trips please visit www.redbeardcats.com. The episode of Pautzke Outdoors we filmed today will be out in a few weeks.