Barge Hopping in February with Anthony Kulis
When the water starts to get cold, it’s my favorite time to target individual fish. I spend lots of time scanning, looking for that catfish on the sonar that screams that it’s a pig. The colder water brings catfish into common areas, so when you find one, there are probably many others nearby. It makes for easy fishing and why it is my favorite time to fish.
My attempt is to “barge hop.” Barge hopping is simply anchoring up current of a barge or dry dock and casting baits back at the trash piles under this man-made feature. The current will push the scents into the trash where the catfish will be staged. You will typically know in a few minutes if the catfish are active.
I usually don’t stay on a barge for more than 20 to 30 minutes without a bite. If I know fish are present and not active, I will return later in the day. I usually find the same fish stacked up on my return and sometimes I get lucky and find them active now. If I marked a giant fish during the day that didn’t want to bite, I always return at sunset.
Not all barges are created equal. Barges parked for longer periods of time usually have more trash under them. Side-imaging really is a must for this technique. You can quickly find which barges have trash piled up and which do not. Where I live, our rivers are free flowing with no dams holding back water so it is not uncommon to have a rise in the river wash out this trash. So, don’t rely on what you saw the last time you visited the barge. Scan the barge first so you don’t waste precious fishing time.
Note: Anthony Kulis shared the 2020 Twisted Cats Outdoors Angler of the Year honors with Jake Derhake. CatfishNOW asked both of these successful anglers for a fishing tip. Anthony’s tip is offered here and Jakes can be found in this same issue.