CATFISH LOVE RISING WATER, but WHY?

“CATFISH LOVE RISING WATER, but WHY?’”
by Luke Clayton

As a kid growing up in rural northeast Texas, I remember my dad watching the sky closely and when he thought a good, soaking rain resulting in run off into Pecan Creek was in the forecast, he and I seined bait; it was time to go catfishing! From a lifetime spent as a devout fisherman, he knew that rising water always puts catfish in the biting mode. I grew up knowing this fact and I’ve put together my share of ‘fish frys’ by targeting whiskerfish after periods of heavy rainfall. Much of the country was recently deluged by several inches of slow, steady rain, the kind that saturates the ground and causes creeks and rivers to go on a gradual rise.

Most anyone that loves catfishing understands the equation of rising waters=good fishing, but many of us never stopped to wonder exactly why. The reason is pretty simple, says catfish guide Jason Barber from Cedar Creek Lake, situated about an hour southeast of Dallas. “The rising water floods crayfish holes, causing this favored catfish food to surface and become swept into the current. Earthworms, grubs and all sorts of invertebrates are also made available to become part of the catfishes dinner. This rise in water level has the same effect on catfish bound to reservoirs. As the water level rises, a smorgasbord of food enters the water from newly flooded banks and catfish go on a big time bite.”

These pelicans at the mouth of Kings Creek at Cedar Creek Lake
Photo courtesy of Luke Clayton.

These pelicans at the mouth of Kings Creek at Cedar Creek Lake are here, just like the catfish, to take advantage of all the food washed into the creek by recent rainfall.

On a recent fishing trip with Barber, this fact became quite obvious. Cedar Creek Lake is fed by a few large creeks and after several inches of rainfall in the watersheds above the lake, the water in the creeks was, once again, on the move. Barber had been enjoying some great blue catfish action the 2 days after the rains.

As Barber and I motored into the big flat out from the mouth of Kings Creek, a distinct mud line was visible but with a stiff south breeze, it was difficult to tell if the wave action coming from the creek was caused by wind, or current from run off.

“If we were fishing for white bass or hybrids”, says Barber as he eased the anchor overboard, “we would concentrate on the more clear water outside the mud line, but actively feeding catfish can be caught from the muddiest of water. It soon became obvious the current had ceased and the creek was once again still. The water was shallow, averaging 2-3 feet and without current, it was doubtful we would do very well fishing such shallow water, especially with a water temperature in the high seventies. The mark of a good fisherman is adapting to ever changing weather/water conditions and having a plan B. “With all this fresh water, catfish will still be on a good bite, we will just have to go elsewhere to find them.” tips Barber after about 15 minutes of unproductive fishing in the shallow water.

The next time our anchor went overboard, we were in water around 15 feet deep, just out from a submerged roadbed. “It’s a good bet these shallow water fish I was catching just after the rains have moved deeper, look at all these fish stacking up along the edge of the roadbed,” says Barber as he points to his graph which was all but blacked out from the hundreds of inverted V’s which we hoped were catfish. We soon had chunks of fresh cut shad near bottom on short Carolina rigs and it instantly became obvious Plan B was a good one! In a matter of a couple hours, we had the makings of a whopping fish fry in the ice chest. The catch consisted of several blues in the 6-10 pound range and some smaller fish. I lost the biggest fish of the day boatside because I thought I could “lip” it rather than use the landing net.

Cedar Creek guide Jason Barber with a blue catfish

Photo courtesy of Luke Clayton.

Cedar Creek guide Jason Barber with a blue catfish landed earlier this week. Recent rainfall has put lakes on a rise and fishing has been good.

Regardless of which waters you fish, a few iron clad rules of successfully catching catfish can be learned from this recent trip. Until cool fronts begin dropping water temperatures, usually in mid to late October, the majority of blue catfish will be landed from relatively deep water, 15 feet or deeper, with the exception of periods immediately following heavy rainfall when current causes them to move into flowing creeks and streams.

Barber expects the dependable fall bite for blue catfish to begin by the end of October, after the passage of the first cold fronts of the season. “During this period, drift fishing with large pieces of cut shad usually produces the best action. We often make drifts that cover as much as a couple miles of open water and boat blue regularly in the 20-40 pound range.” added Barber. Until the colder weather triggers the trophy blue bite, devout catfish anglers will have to be content with numbers of ‘eater’ blues. To my way of thinking, that’s not a bad thing!

Contact Cedar Creek Guide Jason Barber at www.kingscreekadventures.com or 903-603-2047

Article from: http://www.catfish1.com