WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Friday evening, May 1st, I welcomed returning guests Rick Powell and Ricardo Cisneros aboard. During the Coronavirus shutdown, I took my wife, Rebecca, and a handful of friends out fishing specifically for blue catfish on Lake Belton. Ricardo, who regularly follows my Facebook posts, saw this and hoped to duplicate the effort on occasions where he hoped to catch a few “eating-sized” catfish (12+ inches).
He requested I take he and his friend (and boss) Rick Powell out to show them what I’d learned.
No, I’m not starting to guide for catfish and don’t intend to do so in the future, but, as the fishery offers consistency and as the quality of these fish continue to improve on Lake Belton (due to zebra mussel consumption, I suspect), I will no doubt routinely mix in some catfishing in my multi-species trips. Additionally, my 100% C&R policy still pertains to this species.
PHOTO CAPTION: This is what the methods I’ve pieced together (with a good bit of help from Steve Webb) typically produce – smaller “eater-sized” blue catfish, two of which provide 4 fillets — just enough for a 1-person serving if kept and cleaned properly. Most fish are 12-15 inches, like this one held by Ricardo Cisneros.
WHEN WE FISHED: 01 May, 2020, PM
HOW WE FISHED: First, I search for blue catfish concentrations on sonar. Next, I Spot-Lock and chum with range cubes, then get right down to fishing vertically with my “Catfish Plumb” bait holders tipped with fresh, dead shad or non-stink doughbait. To enhance things, I’ve brought Garmin LiveScope to bear, which allows slightly suspended fish to be targeted. Otherwise, the default bait position is just inches off bottom.
Concentration is a must, as the catfish typically take only one swipe at the bait, during which time a quick, hard hookset is a must.
In 3.5 hours’ time, some of which was set aside for Humminbird side-imaging explanation and Garmin LiveScope explanation, we put 22 blue cat over the side of the boat with just as many missed on the hookset.
TALLY: 22 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: As I searched for spawning shad, a definite, shallow-water and shad-oriented fishery is also ripe for picking, albeit short-lived with the action drying up about the time the direct sun peeks over the eastern horizon.
Start Time: 4:00P
End Time: 7:30P
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 82F
Elevation: 0.77′ high, 0.06 foot 24-hour rise, 17 CFS flow
Water Surface Temp: 70F
Wind Speed & Direction: S17 at trip’s start, tapering to S14 by trip’s end
Sky Conditions: 30% high white haze on blue skies
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area vic B0073C (fished it at start of trip and end of trip with 2 other non-productive stops in between)
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