Beat the Heat for Summer Blue Cats
By Dan Grulke
As July gets into full swing, big blue catfish will have
completed their spawning, and anglers can now target these
trophy specimens. The challenge when fishing for these catfish
is staying cool long enough to catch them. Here are some of the
techniques, tactics, locations, and tidal patterns that I follow
in order to be successful when fishing for these goliaths.
There are two ways to beat the summer heat. The first is to fish
early in the morning or late in the evening. If you choose this
tactic, look for days when these low-light conditions coincide
with an outgoing tide or low tide. The other option is to fish
at night. However, this option should only be attempted by the
most experienced of waterman. For safety's sake, I tend to
recommend the first option.
My favorite summertime haunt for trophy blue cat fishing is the Washington D.C.
area. I prefer to target points and humps in or near the main
river channel that are adjacent to shallow flats. The best depth
range is 25-35 feet with the ability to run one or two lines on
the adjacent flat, usually 10-15 feet. At this time of year, the
big blues are very active, and I prefer to use live bait such as
bluegills and white perch. These baits are readily available and
stay alive on the hook for a long time. Check the regulations
for legal size limits on these fish. Even though they are used
as bait, they must be of legal size to possess and use. I
usually run four setups with live bluegills and two setups with
cut bluegills Again, check the regulations for where you are
fishing; in some areas, you are only permitted to run four
setups at a time.
I find the gear I use to be as important as the locations I
choose when targeting these trophies. My choice is the 110170
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish rod paired with a
SHA conventional reel. If you prefer a level-wind reel, the
Daiwa Millionaire-S is a good option. There is no better line
than 20- or 25-pound test Sufix Tritanium Plus in chartreuse.
This line is highly abrasion resistant to withstand all the
hazards of the river bottom. It also casts very smoothly, and
the highly visibility makes it easy to untangle lines when fish
cross them. The hook I prefer is the VMC Tournament Circle hook in 9/0. This
hook is a little thinner than the Gamakatsu models I have
previously used, so it penetrates better.
To make your time on the water as comfortable as possible,
remember to drink lots of water and apply sunscreen every two
hours. The fish are more scattered at this time of year so
change spots frequently. Set the drags on your reels a little
looser now because big blues fight extremely hard in the
warm-weather months. And whenever possible, fish an outgoing
tide either early in the morning or late in the evening.
To book a fishing trip for monster blue cats, contact
Keith Barker. Trophy season is February-March with both size and
numbers in the April-May window and again from the middle of
July through November. For specific questions about gear and
tactics, contact Dan Grulke.
Capt. Keith Barker