Flippin' For Cats

On a day-to-day basis, the best action usually takes place during the middle of a sunny day after the water warms and the increased light penetration makes baits easier for cats to see.

Flipping is a part of every bassman’s arsenal, but few cat anglers give it a thought. They’re missing out, though, because on waters with flooded timber, flippin’ can be an excellent way to put numbers of cats in the boat.

Just ask Billy Blakley, guide on Reelfoot Lake in Northwestern Tenn-essee. He says the lake’s vast stands of flooded timber provide excellent perches for roosting birds like cormorants. While many anglers hate the fish-eaters, Blakely loves them. That’s because they deposit fish-rich waste around the trees, attracting catfish.

“When birds roost in the trees, their droppings stain the leaves white,” he says. “All the birds are really doing is tearing up shad and moving the chum from one part of the lake to another.”

To capitalize on this, Blakely looks for trees in three to five feet of water, with birds actually sitting in them, or those with white-stained leaves. He rigs a fresh dead shad on a 4/0 hook and flips it—just like a bass jig—as close as possible to the trunk, and lets it flutter down.

Often, the bait never makes it to the bottom before a catfish eats it. If it does, he lets the shad sit a few seconds before popping it off the bottom and letting it flutter back.

“On a calm day, I don’t use any weight,” Blakley says. “When it’s windy, I use a leadhead jig or a slip sinker, just like a Texas-rig for bass.

And it’s effective.

“One day, we filled a 48-quart ice chest with 240 pounds of catfish in about 90 minutes,” he says.

Fish every side of each trunk. Usually, fish hit almost immediately, so don’t waste time near a tree that doesn’t instantly produce.

Flip for cats any time of year, except during the coldest months of winter. Usually, spring, late summer and fall, however, offer the best fishing as migrating birds stop to roost in flooded trees.

On a day-to-day basis, the best action usually takes place during the middle of a sunny day after the water warms and the increased light penetration makes baits easier for cats to see.

Shad usually produce best; although nightcrawlers, commercial stinkbaits, livers, shrimp, crayfish, shad, shiners or minnows also perform well. Where legal, use small live bream.


Billy Blakley guides anglers to crappies, catfish, bass and bluegills out of Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee. To book a trip call, (877) 258-3226, or visit bluebankresort.com.

Bonus Catfish Fishing Video:


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