Fishing with Gus: Summer weather makes for hungrier catfish
by Staff Writer
There are times when the water gets so warm and bright that most fish cease to bite during daylight hours.
That’s not the case with catfish. Regardless of what people read or think, catfish feed 24/7 during the summer. The bite might be a little better at night, but many are caught during the heat of day.
All sizes and species are targets for savvy anglers who know that catfish are ultra hungry during the summer.
Stink baits attract lots of channel cats because of the scent, but the problem with prepared baits is that the small cats are so quick to eat the bait, that the big ones never have a chance to reach it. That is the reason professional anglers use fresh-cut shad, herring, bream and perch to lure trophy blues and flatheads. The fresher the bait, the better it is. They want their bait so fresh that they keep it alive in aerated tanks until it is time to be cut into pieces. As a rule, fresh-cut bait catches more blues and channels than similar bait that has been iced down or frozen.
The head of a small bream or white perch more times than not, will produce more strikes than a filet strip. The theory is that the head holds more scent and for whatever the other reasons might be, it seems to attract larger fish.
When fishing for kitty cats (channels), a small No. 4, 2 or 1 hook works fine. But, for trophy-size fish, use a 5/0 to 9/0 circle hook. These wide gapped hooks are necessary to clear the thick jawbone of a big blue or flathead.
Most catfish anglers double anchor or drift fish on surrounding area lakes. But on Lake Norman, slow trolling with an electric trolling motor is preferred. Slow trolling allows the boat to cover more ground, while boat speed and course is controlled regardless of wind speed or direction.
Now that lake water temperatures are above 80 degrees, catfish are quite active, so trolling speeds up to 1 mph are not too fast to tempt big cats to bite.
Fishing for trophy cats requires relatively heavy tackle and an extra large landing net. Big fish should be released so others may to enjoy their fight another day. To learn more about cat fishing on Lake Norman and other area lakes, visit the Carolina Catfish Club’s web site at www.carolinacatfishclub.com.
Tips from Capt. Gus
Catfish make great table fare. If you don’t have a favorite recipe, try this one from Tim Schafer.
• 1 8-ounce catfish fillet per person
• Vegetable oil
• Blackening spice
Preheat a 10-inch cast iron skillet until very hot. Brush each fillet with vegetable oil. Sprinkle blackening spice evenly on both sides. Place fillets in a hot skillet and blacken each side for 6 to 8 minutes or until the fish is firm. Use a spatula to turn the fish and remove it from the pan.
• I’ll host a free safe boating class, “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night,” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at North Point Watersports, 107 Doolie Road. Topics will include understanding the channel marker and buoy system, learning how to avoid the 10 most dangerous spots and interpreting lake maps. Details: 704-617-6812 or Gus@LakeNoman.com.
• Jake Bussolini and I will conduct a 90-minute seminar on catching more fish by using Sonar/GPS at 6:30 p.m. June 22 at Gander Mountain, 236 Norman Station Blvd. Bring fish finder/GPS instruction booklets. Details: 704-658-0822.
Hot spot of the week
Cat fishing, particularly for Arkansas Blues, is very good when drifting cut bait.
Lots of cats are being taken in the 5- to 10-pound range, with an occasional 20-pounder for the lucky angler. Spotted bass are suspending over river channel humps and are hitting shaky head rigs, other soft plastics and deep diving crank baits. White perch fishing is good to very good in water to 30 feet.
The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the 80s in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 1.9 feet below full pond on Lake Norman.
Capt. Gus Gustafson, of Lake Norman Ventures, is a full-time fishing guide on Lake Norman. His website is www.fishingwithgus.com Contact him at 704-617-6812 or firstname.lastname@example.org.