By: Chris Shaffer
Wes Jordan was adamant. He wanted all the rods out of the holders and resting on the deck. No rod tips were to be exposed, he said. At the time we were fishing in the Staunton River Channel on the upper end of Kerr Lake and surrounded by open space. The catfish were grabbing our baits, but not as frequently as we hoped. Jordan wanted to make big move.
Rather than focus on the 59-degree water coming into Kerr he was looking for warmer water and motored us up a creek channel, one of dozens we’d driven past hours earlier. The journey started in a 100-foot wide channel and emerged into a web of trees and low-lying branches that threatened our passage. The further back we drove the more it looked like a Costa Rican jungle. And, the more cat-fishy it seemed.
I peeked at the fish finder and saw the depth bouncing between three and six feet. Minutes later we anchored in the middle of a small pond-like area filled with flooded trees, submerged brush and banks that looked to be harboring snakes. There had to be catfish here. Meanwhile, Jordan wasn’t convinced yet. He demanded a bit of current and tossed a bobber out to see if it drifted downstream toward Kerr Lake. Fortunately, there was. We started fishing.
Jordan wasn’t done tinkering with the game plan.
“The Chartreuse Fire Dye works in seconds with cut bait right?” he asked me. “I want to try something. The other day when I was here the catfish were hitting my chartreuse bobber. As dirty as this water is maybe they can see the bait better if we soaked the bait in Chartreuse Fire Dye?”
We’ve seen dozens of uses for the Fire Dye, but this was new to us, although legendary New Mexico catfish angler Kris Flores of Muddy River Catfishing (a guy with 70,000 followers on YouTube) asked us the same question a month prior. Jordan was on to something. It’s no secret that cut shad, bluegill and crappie are the go-to bait for cats here, and everywhere in the South. Jordan was raising the bar. To overcome the still muddy water (remember a massive amount of water fell here a few weeks ago) he soaked the baits overnight in Catfish Nectar and was now making them so chartreuse that a plane could see them.
It worked. While the bite was slow in the main river channel it wasn’t here. Call it coincidence, but we had line peeling off rods in fewer than a minute. The catfish weren’t monsters, but action was steady and we were having a blast. Every tree had a catfish on or around it and the Catfish Nectar seeping out of the baits was drawing other cats in.
Jordan wasn’t done experimenting. He grabbed a live Chartreuse Fire Dye bluegill and perch and tossed them near the bank, hoping for a flathead. He said it would be a long shot because of all the noise we were making and the high sun. Within a minute we’d broke off one fish, caught a small five-pound stripers, a wiper and a two-pound flathead that ate a live chartreuse bait nearly half its size. The bites lasted for an hour before we moved to another spot and caught cats up to 30 pounds there. We didn’t catch any huge cats, but likely caught and released several dozen catfish in a few hours. We couldn’t have asked for a better time while filming Pautzke Outdoors.
It’s unclear how long this pattern will continue or if there will be enough water in various creek channels to continue to fish them weeks from now, but we were fortunate to be able to take in the experience and try a few newish methods that are likely to become the norm shortly. I can still see the chartreuse bait glowing, even in the murky water – and I’m sure the catfish did, too.
Editor’s Note: Wes Jordan operates Redbeard Cats Guide Service. For more information on his guided Kerr Lake catfish trips please visit http://redbeardcats.com or https://www.facebook.com/RedbeardCats. Pautzke’s new Fire Dye & Catfish Nectar are available at most North Carolina/Virginia Walmart stores and Bass Pro Shops.