Picking the Right Winter Catfish Rod
By Phillip Gentry
Catfishing during the winter months can be one of the best times of the year to catch quality catfish of all species, both in sizes and in good numbers. Like fishing for any other fish species, you have to know which patterns work the best when targeting cats in cold water.
Along with understanding the behavior and patterns of winter time catfish is also knowing which tackle works best under winter conditions. Our catfish team at B’n’M are some of the best catfish anglers in the country and shared their knowledge on how to select the right catfish rod for wintertime catfishing.
“Cold water doesn’t really hurt the catfish bite,” said B’n’M pro-staffer Joey Pounders. “If anything it makes the fish concentrate more into specific areas and that is a great thing if you can pinpoint those locations.”
Of all the tactics used to catch catfish, Pounders always has and always will be an anchor down and spot fish angler. Other anglers have success trolling or bumping for catfish, which both cover more water than most anglers can cover by jumping spots, but Pounders prefers to give the fish a little time to decide.
Catfish frequently suspend during the cooler months which makes them ideal targets for suspend fishing.
He employs B’n’M’s Silver Cat Magnum 10 ft catfish poles to extend his reach when fishing from an anchored position.
“I can reach a lot of water anchored from one spot, he said. “Especially with the 10 foot catfish rods I use, I have a lot of leverage to put baits exactly where I want and then give the fish time to decide. That extra time means a lot in colder water.”
For Pro-staffer David Magness, winter is a time to catch big catfish in deep water holes and consistent number of eating sized cats in undercut or backwater areas. Cooler water makes catfish movements and locations more predictable and cooler water also means allowing fish more time to locate your baits and possibly downsizing portions from the huge summer buffets most anglers are accustomed to using.
Unlike some other locations where he simply places his baited rods in holders, Magness will fish this area on a hold-and-bounce tactic called bumping that allows the bait to cover more ground than simply letting it lie on the bottom.
“Instead of just anchoring and putting rods out, actually hold the rod, let it to the bottom, then lift your rod tip, let the current carry it down 2 or 3 feet, then let it hit the bottom again,” said Magness. “Sometimes, you might have so much line out, you think you’re going to spool your reel before you get a hit. However, when you’re catching trophy sized catfish in the current with 100 foot line out, that’s a lot of fun.”
B’n’M makes a rod just for this tactic, the B’n’M Pro Staff Bumping rod. The rod provides a stiffer blank and a stainless steel tip eyelet designed to handle the abuse that swifter current and big catfish put on it.
Pro-staffer David Shipman looks for catfish to suspend somewhere between the bottom and the surface during the cooler months. He prefers to keep his baits up off the bottom to make them more available to suspended catfish and in fact, refers to this tactic as suspend fishing.
“Suspend fishing works year round, but probably produces better during the cooler months starting in November and running until March,” he said. “Unlike the other bottom tactics it doesn’t work as well in areas of heavy current, but will still produce fish no matter where you try it.”
B’n’M’s Silver Cat Magnum rods are the new standard for tangling with trophy catfish.
Shipman uses B’n’M’s Silver Cat Magnum rods for his specialized presentation. He places the rods in rod holders and bumps around in areas he has determined to hold catfish using his trolling motor to position the boat. These new 90% carbon/10% fiberglass rods feature a wrapped nylon cord grip for sure-handling, super-slick guides, and a cat-fishin’ tough graphite reel seat.
“I usually don’t go over a half mile an hour and sometimes even slower,” said Shipman. “First you want to get into an area where you are marking catfish. Sometimes they might be suspending right off the bottom and other times they might be half way to the surface. That’s regardless of the water depth. I’ve seen fish suspending at 35 feet over 70 feet of water.”
Pro-Staffer Mark Blauvelt from New Lebanon, OH loves to fish for channel catfish. Because channel cats bite year round, they remain active during the winter and can even be caught through the ice on northern lakes that freeze over during the winter.
No need to store your catfish tackle during the winter. Get out there and get in the action with one of B’n’M’s catfish rods.
“Channel catfish remain active throughout the winter,” he said. “The fish will move into wintertime patterns which means they’ll seek out the deepest holes but they will still feed heavily.”
Blauvelt said he prefers B’n’M’s Silvercat Catfish pole for targeting channel catfish. The medium action rod with the sensitive tip helps detect bites while the serious backbone will land trophy channels exceeding 15 pounds with ease.
“My preferred bait during the winter is still fresh cut shad if you can find them,” said Blauvelt. “I will also use frozen shad that I’ve stored for the winter and I find the bigger baits do better for freezing than the smaller baits.”
This winter, pick the right gear and you’ll be catching catfish regardless of the weather. Check out our complete lineup of catfish rods and tackle at bnmpoles.com
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