I love it when the water temperatures start to fall with the cooler nights. During this part of the year, I normally start my mornings looking for bigger fish in deeper water.
As the sun rises and warms the water I move to shallow flats. The bait will be on a similar pattern and I expect the cats to follow.
I anchor up and use one of two rigs. One is a standard Kentucky rig with two hooks. The other is a slip rig with one hook. I like the slip rig a lot because I think it is very important to allow the mainline to slip through the sinker drop so the fish don’t feel the weight.
The leader lines for the sinker drop are made up of different lengths so the fish can tell me how far off the bottom they want it.
Using a wide variety of baits and slowing down the presentation can be key to a successful trip this time of year. Anglers should always use baits that are common to their area when they can.
In my neck of the woods, the bait is shad, mooneye, skipjack, and Asian carp. Once the water temperatures dip below 70 degrees I don’t use Asian carp. It is also important to use different sizes of bait until you find what they like, but I think having a variety of baits is more important.
This strategy places a variety of baits at different distances off the bottom. A little trial and error will identify where the fish are and what bait they want. This method has proven very effective for me over the years.
Editor’s Note: Jason “Big Cat” Mathenia’s passion for fishing and helping other anglers catch trophy catfish has led him to start a guide service. Interested anglers can join him at Midwest Trophy Cats beginning in November of 2021.