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John's Journal... Entry 254, Day 4


Main Lakes and at Various Depths

Editor's Note: "Don't want no bream or crappie, Only one fish that makes me happy: Catfish, catfish." (Taken from the musical "Pumpboys & Dinettes") Plenty of anglers across the U.S. share the sentiments of this song from "Pumpboys and Dinettes." They love the fun of matching baits to the seasons of the year and the places where they fish to catch cats, and they enjoy the delicious white meat of catfish. Although many anglers believe that throwing a stink bait out on the bottom of any river in the summer will catch catfish, to consistently take more cats on every outing, you need to know where the fish most likely will occur, what they will eat in these spots, and what conditions will cause them to feed most actively. You can check with biologists, local anglers and area sporting-goods stores to learn what catfish prefer to eat in your part of the state at each time of the year. Several factors affect when and what catfish eat. The temperature of the water governs how actively catfish feed because the enzyme action in a catfish's stomach doubles with each 8-degree increase in water temperature. The hotter the weather becomes, the more catfish feed. Since most catfish prefer a dark habitat, they eat mostly at night during the hottest, sunniest weather. My friend, Phil King of Corinth, Mississippi, an expert angler and guide for catfish who primarily fishes Pickwick Lake on the Alabama/Mississippi/Tennessee border, says that during the summer you'll most likely catch big catfish an hour or two after daylight with the secondary peak time from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

In really hot weather, King goes up to the main part of Pickwick Lake to fish for suspended catfish, the fish most people don't fish for, and even fewer people catch in the summer. Many folks believe cats feed only on the bottom and don't realize they can feed at any story of the water where the catfish locate comfortable temperatures. "In that deep water, 70- to 80-feet deep, I'll use Cabela's rod holders and four to six rods to troll for cats," King explains. "Mark the line on each rod with a magic marker, and mark four different spots on each line. The first mark will indicate 30 feet of line out. The next marks will be at 40, 50 and finally 60 feet.

Once the lines are marked on all four, "Use the trolling motor to move the boat around in those deep holes to try and catch the catfish suspended above those holes. Whichever rod gets the most bites, I'll note the depth that I have my baits at by the marks on my line. Next I'll set the rest of my rods at that depth. Catfish have a comfort zone, and they'll suspend at that comfort zone. On different days, that comfort zone may be at various depths. "For this reason, each day you fish, start the same way by fishing the four different depths of water until you establish a pattern. Perhaps you can see fish on your depth finder. But, many times the fish you see there may not be catfish. By having the drop lines set at different depths and dropping your main line down to the point where you see the band of fish on the depth finder, you should get a bite, if they're catfish."

Catfish At Various Depths:
You'll also enjoy trotlining, jugging and yo-yoing for catfish during the summer on rivers both large and small. Although people who fish for catfish with these tactics basically all may put out their lines in the same way and rig their lines with the same baits, some anglers will catch more catfish than others. You can determine at what depth the catfish feed by utilizing your depth finder and locating three or four different depths in several sections of the river. Bait all the trotlines, jugs or yo-yos the same way, and fish at various depths to see which lines produce best. Then concentrate your fishing efforts in that depth to catch more catfish. Start living easy with school out, and enjoy catching the most-delicious fish of the summer - the catfish.

To learn more about Phil King and his fishing and guide service, you can call him at (662) 286-8644, e-mail him at pking@tsixroads.com, or go to www.h2ow.com/catfish/. For more information about Cabela's rods and reels, go to www.cabelas.com. For more information about catching catfish, order John E. Phillips' book, "The Masters' Secrets of Catfishing," at www.nighthawkpublications.com/fishing/masterscatfish.htm. To learn more about fishing below the dam at Pickwick, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at info@tourhardincounty.org, call 731-925-8181 or 800-552-3866, or visit www.tourhardincounty.org. Pickwick Landing State Park offers fishing, boating, hiking, camping, swimming and golf. Lodging includes the lakeside inn with over 100 rooms, cabins that sleep eight and a campground that contains 48 sites with grill and electric/water hookup at each site. A restaurant at the park offers delicious southern cuisine. Call 731-689-3135 or 800-250-8615 to learn more.




Check back each day this week for more about HOW TO FISH SUMMERTIME CATFISH ...

Day 1 - Small Streams And Little Rivers
Day 2 - Large River Cats
Day 3 - Below Dams and in Main Lakes
Day 4 - Main Lakes and at Various Depths
Day 5 - What Cats Like

John's Journal