Drifting For Catfish

It’s getting to be that time of the year again when drifting for catfish works great on any lake that has a good population of catfish, and that just about includes all of lakes in Texas.

Some of the better lakes in east and central Texas are Lake Palestine and Lake Texoma. At Palestine, drift live bait between Hawn Point and the bridges on Highway 155; at Texoma drift shad and cut perch in the creeks and more shallow areas at night.

Chad Ferguson, catfish guide and author, said he uses the Whisker Seeker XL Rattler and the X3 Big Bertha Rattler when drift fishing. “It’s like the Santee Rig. The biggest difference being that the Whisker Seeker Rattlers make noise in the water when they’re moving.”

A traditional drift fishing tackle and rigging consists of a medium bass rig. The majority of the fish will be under 10 pounds with an occasional giant on good days. Tie a 1/0 or 2/0 Aberdeen crappie hook on leaving 12-18 inches of line. The hook may seem a little light for this job but can be straightened out to pull free of snags. The crappie hook will land a big catfish. Just use judgement with the drag system. On the end of the line attach a ½ ounce bell sinker. A stronger wind will require a heavier weight.

Bait is a matter of choice. Catalpa, earth or nightcrawler worms, chicken livers, live crawfish, shrimp, cut bait, live shad, live minnows, commercially prepared or homemade blood cheese baits are just a few baits preferred by catfish anglers. I have seen some catfish anglers using wieners.

I began my catfish learning cycle using long, juicy nightcrawlers, but learned chicken livers stayed on the hook much better.

Drifting is simple. A couple of anglers can manage multiple rods until the action really gets intense. Define the wind direction, positioning the boat perpendicular with the wind.

Find a flat that will give you a long uninterrupted drift. If you have electronics look for a flat with bait. Seeing shad schools is a sure sign the catfish will be nearby. Cast or freeline you reel that you have about 20-25 feet line out. Experiment with length of line and sinker weight until you find what the catfish want.

Even a small catfish can remove an unattended rod in the blink of an eye. Many drifting experts will use an array of rod holders that hold two or more rods. These holders keep the rod in the boat even with a fish on. This comes in handy, allowing an angler to fight and land one fish, then reel in the second.

Some lakes seem to produce better for drifting than others, but the techniques here described will work on any lake that has a good population of catfish.



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Lake Fork Weather Forecast



Hi: 79

Sunday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 50


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 75

Monday Night

Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 53


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Hi: 68

Tuesday Night

Partly Cloudy

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Hi: 70

Wednesday Night

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Lake Fork

Fishing Report from TPWD (Mar. 22)

GOOD. Water Stained; 55-62 degrees; 1.64 feet below pool. The cold front dropped the water temperature down 10 degrees in some areas slowing the bass bite. Use a slow bait presentation with Texas rigs, baby brush hogs or beaver type baits on the outside edge of the grass. Darker colored baits like V & M chopsticks in Texas smoke have been fair in 3-6 feet. Look for the bite to improve by the weekend as the water temperature warms and bass return to beds. Frogs and baits worked on top of the grass and in the pockets of grass should be great by the weekend. Report by Marc Mitchell, Lake Fork Pro. Cooler weather is affecting the movement of the black bass, as the water cools the females are not committing to the beds, but as the water warms activity will increase. Search warmer clearer water in the backs of coves and creeks for active fish. Crappie are beginning to move towards the banks, try small bead heads fished slowly 3-4 feet. Carp and gar are spawning in shallow water. Report by Guide Alex Guthrie, Fly Fish Fork Guide Service. The crappie fishing on Lake Fork is getting really hot. Seeing great numbers and lots of big fish each day. The fish are making huge moves shallow this week and will for the next month. Areas in 2-13 feet are finally beginning to see more fish that are spawning. The 14-32 feet staging areas are also still loaded with fish and reloading daily now. Seeing lots of fish roaming in open water but the best luck is still coming on fish on timber or brush. Small hand tied jigs in chartreuse or orange are getting crushed right now, and you can still catch fish well on soft plastics and minnows. Report by Jacky Wiggins, Jacky Wiggins’ Guide Service. The crappie are biting in the main creek channels about halfway back in the creek. With the cooler weather most of the crappie are laying on the bottom. Once the sun comes out fish suspend up in the water column around 15 feet. Success with Snacky lures FS200 matched with the eye hole jig or crappie

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