When the air temperatures drop and the water temperature follows, our Mississippi catfish tend to move to deeper water. If the sun does come out with enough energy to warm the shallows a few degrees the fish can be found there. But in my experience, most of my February fish come from deep water.
Generally, I am going to check for structure. That’s the place you find fish in abundance. The idea is to find ledges, humps, rocks, laydowns, or any other item that gives the catfish a place to hide, rest, and ambush.
I use my sonar to find the structure, but I don’t have to see fish to put some baits out. They can be so tight that they don’t show up on the sonar. They can also be buried on the bottom. When you catch those buried fish you will see mud on them and know immediately why you are not seeing them on sonar. That is particularly true on the side scan. Once you find a likely spot fish it thoroughly.
If I am fishing in the river I will be looking for deep water structure like fallen trees and laydowns. The combination of deep water and structure can produces some good winter bites. I normally fish on the anchor or Spot-Lock with the trolling motor to target these areas.
I rig my B’n’M rods with a sinker slide rig and bait with cut skipjack. The rig is normally fished on the bottom close to cover. If the bite is slow I replace the hook leader with about 12 to 18 inches of leader material that includes a Dragging Chub (Flathead Fever Tackle) tied in between the hook and the leader swivel. The Dragging Chub will hold the bait off the bottom and also provide a rattling sound that attracts the catfish.