Catfish turn on during the winter


Terry Payne from Elizabeth Cith snagged this catfish from the Chowan River.


Mike Sweeney

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In the winter it is hard to get a lot of people fishing but if you are a cat fisherman now is a great time to get out.

In the winter month’s the big cats still feed and if you know when to get out you can really score some nice catfish for the table.

When to go is an important factor but if you follow the weather like most good anglers you know that before a front moves in the barometer will drop and the bite will turn on.

Some of the best fishing I have ever had was during cold, rainy days and this time of year we get plenty of them to choose from.

That is exactly what Terry Payne and the guys from Team N.Y.A.R. did on the Chowan River this past week to welcome in the new year.

These local anglers compete in noodling tournaments and when they dial in the fish the weight can really add up. This week they caught over 200 pounds of catfish in one day with some of the best ones over 25 pounds and all with no rod or reel.

The target areas are at the drop offs and ledges next to the channel because the fish will move up and down the water column during these fronts.

If it becomes muddy and the water rises they will come right to the bank to feed. I had a trip down the Shenandoah River once and it poured for two days before I arrived.

The water turned muddy and began to rise so I switched to nightcrawlers and tossed the bait not five feet from shore.

We caught fish for two straight days right next to the bank and the only hard part was trying not to let your rod drag into the river.

For bait around here I almost always use cut eel because the smell and oils from the bait will travel along way and bring the fish to you.

I like fresh cut bait also along with night crawlers and chicken livers which a lot of locals use but my best days have come with eel.

If you want to get into a good mess of fish this time of year you just have to get out and go cat fishing and you won’t be disappointed.

What’s biting, where...

The fishing report is looking up in some ways this week but not for the offshore guys. I heard of some private boats getting out but with little luck.

I have been getting reports that the Bluefin tuna have been showing up on the docks down at Morehead City which means it’s only a matter of days till the begin to show up here. As soon as I hear I will let you know.

On the beach it has been pretty good down around Buxton and around the point with some days bringing blues close to the beach and the puppy drum have been consistent all year.

Some blow toads and mullet have also been in the mix along with the occasional flounder and speckled trout so for this time of year it’s not too bad at least before this front passes through.

Locally I have had an increase of reports from guys getting out and the fishing is improving with some decent stripers over 20 inches being caught on the North River from local angler Vince Garrenton.

He also caught a few white perch to add to the mix so thanks for that report Vince. One of my fellow kayak anglers Don Campbell went out and only caught one bass but it weighed 8.5 pounds.

If you are only going to get one bite then you might as well make the best of it so good job, Don.

The catfish are also biting well on the Chowan River with cut eel as bait.

They are hanging on the ledges between 10 and 20 feet of water but all of these fish will be moving deeper with this cold air and snow moving into the area this weekend so make the appropriate moves to find them.

If anyone gets out send me a report like Don and Vince to fishingwithmike921@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook at Fishing with Mike and I will be glad to share your story.