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John's Journal... Entry 163, Day 1


Why Fish For Cats At Night

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jerry Crook of Gardendale, Alabama, a veteran Tennessee River angler, has fished there for more than 22 years. Crook operates a tailrace guide service that focuses on live-bait fishing to provide his clients with opportunities to catch several species of fish in a day's outing.

Question: When the weather really gets hot and most people roll up their poles and go home, you fish for cats at night. Why?
Crook: I fish for cats to beat the heat and to get away from everybody else. Sometimes the fish just seem to bite better in hot weather at night.

Question: What kinds of areas do you fish?
Crook: Primarily I fish the base of dams near the turbines. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) usually cuts the water off by 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. After that time, I'll try to get beside a turbine and either pitch inside the holes there below Wheeler Dam on the Tennessee River, pitch outside next to the turbine or get into the deep water. I always gather my bait during the daytime when possible before I go out that night.

Question: Where do you locate catfish at night?
Crook: If I don't find them at the base of the dam, I'll get out on the flats. During the daylight hours, I'll watch and see where the jug fishermen fish, since they stay on the cats more often than I do. The jug fishermen will key you in on the right location to catch catfish.

Question: In late July, August and September, how late will
TVA bring the current through the dam?
Crook: They'll run the current until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. at the very latest.

Question: Where do you fish at night if TVA doesn't cut the turbines off?
Crook: Usually only one or two turbines are running at that time, so I'll fish to the side of one of these turbines. If TVA cuts all of the water off below Wheeler Dam, I like to fish between turbine number eight and turbine number nine. That side of the dam has a bunch of construction rubble there as well as some really deep water that's a key holding area for catfish.

Question: Do you suggest that an angler learn how to catch catfish and anything else that swims in a tailrace by driving around in a tailrace at night when the turbines are turned off. Then when there's no current, you can learn the tailrace with your depth finder, right?
Crook: Yes. There's a deep wash hole and a ledge in front of the turbines where the turbines actually boil up. Those fish usually will hold on that drop-off structure. At Wheeler Dam in particular, there are 30-something holes in the dam. Each hole is comprised of a slab of concrete with walls and a ceiling, but as soon as you come out of that hole there is a direct drop-off. The catfish will run that wall at night catching the bait.

For more information on fishing tailraces, contact Jerry Crook at 1128 Meadow Drive, Gardendale, Alabama 35071, or call him at (home) (205) 608-0933 or (cell) (205) 243-6198. You can visit his website at www.alabamaoutdoors.net/tailrace.html.




Check back each day this week for more HOW AND WHERE TO CATCH CATS AT NIGHT ...

Day 1 - Why Fish For Cats At Night
Day 2 - Fishing The Locks
Day 3 - Find Other Structures That You Can Fish At Night
Day 4 - How To Rig For Catfishing
Day 5 - General Catfishing Information

John's Journal