Tips For catfish success at night
O.K. So romantic I ain't. But I do love catfish. And a hot starry night is perfect for catching a few good channel cats or even some blue catfish. Catfishing at night during the summer not only provides a break from angling during the hot summer days, but there are also less competing anglers. It's not likely the recreational boaters will aggravate you while catfishing at night either.
Here Are some things that will help you do better when catfishing at night. First, a very powerful disadvantage to night fishing is the lack of light. You won't be able to tell where you are as well as you can in daylight. So it is important you get to know the areas you will be catfishing at night as well as you can during daytime. Scouting the fishing areas in the day helps tremendously, however, remember your depth perception will low at night. If maps are available, study them. Try to find deep drop-offs close to the banks, as well as submerged structure such as fallen trees, logs and rocks. These structures can produce a lot of catfish in rivers and reservoirs alike.
Before nightfall, use the last few daylight hours to scout around some more. If you have it available, use sonar to find and mark promising drop-offs and underwater structure. Find at least five places to catfish that night. Your sonar will often allow you to mark individual fish, sometimes three or four big catfish. They won't travel far during the day, but at night the catfish will move out to feed. Try to find nearby flats where the fish will possibly feed. This is a good time to mark areas that might cause problems for navigation while catfishing at night. Areas of shallow water on the flats and along approach and departure routes.
Then, after darkness falls, start fishing the places you've marked. I usually start with dropping three or four lines, increasing depending on how well the fishing is. If the water is 25 feet or deeper with a slow current, I like to suspend my bait between a foot and a half to two feet above the bottom. Normally the water I fish isn't that deep so I let the bait float in the current a 5 o 6 inches from the sinkers. When you can't get a strike in deeper water, move on into the shallower flats. More often than not this is where the catfish will be at night. It's simply a lot easier for them to get baitfish in five feet of water than in the deeper water of the channel. And usually, that's where the baitfish will be hanging.
Knowing where to fish in the shallow water can be a challenge, but there are some factors to consider that may help. The catfish will feed into the current, and if possible try to find large schools of baitfish, and the catfish won't be far away. And have some patience; I normally give each spot at least a couple hours before I move on to the next area I've marked.
When catfishing at night it helps to keep track of the moon phases, ambient light and time of night. These things affect how the catfish feed. Catfish do not like to feed during a full moon; therefore catfishing will be poor during the full moon. This is a good time to go day fishing for bream. The best moon phase to catfish is under the new moon. The new moon provides excellent fishing all night long. In between moons there is a period of good fishing right after sunset that last maybe an hour, sometimes two. Then it picks up again about an hour before to two hours after sunrise.
Use reflective tape to mark fishing spots, hazards, creek mouths, and anything you think might help you navigate better in the dark. Make sure you remember to bring a spotlight and an extra battery. The spotlight to help you spot the tape and to help other boats see you, and the extra battery is always handy in the event the main battery runs low, or has problems. And, as always, bring a first aid kit and wear your life jackets. Ways to contact someone if something should go wrong and access to weather alerts are important too. Thunderstorms pop up quick in the summer.
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