Lake Tawakoni, situated about an hour east of Dallas, is one of the best lakes in the country for catching catfish. Many serious catfish anglers rate it as number one. I’ve had the opportunity to fish some great catfish waters and during the cold weather months, rate is at the top of my list when targeting big blues. Here, fish weighing between 25 and 50 pounds are landed with regularity in the winter. During the warm weather months, heavy stringers of channel catfish are landed on a variety of baits around holes baited with soured grain. But with the passing of the first cold front each fall comes the beginning of the trophy blue catfish season. Guide David Hanson www.littledsguideservice 903-268-7391 has been putting his clients on both species for many years but his true love is catching big blues. His client’s biggest, landed last year, was an 80 pound bruiser. The trophy blue season began a bit early this year with several 45-55 pound fish landed back in October but that was a bit early for the dependable “big fish” bite. When the temperature falls, as it has now, the big blues begin to run in schools, following their favorite food; shad. Most of them are caught from water 20-30 feet deep but even during the dead of winter after several days of a warming south wind, some jumbo size blue cats come from shallow water along windblown banks.
Just yesterday, I had the pleasure of fishing with Hanson and our mutual friend, Kenneth Shepard. The moon phase defiantly has an effect on the big fishes’ feeding pattern. We were fishing the day after the brightest “super moon” since 1948. The first major cold front of the season was scheduled to arrive a couple of days later. The “big boys” were off their feed this day but we boated a big cooler full of what Hanson calls “eater fish” weighing between two and ten pounds. When I’m looking for the making of a jumbo fish fry, I favor blue catfish fillets above any other fish in freshwater. We left the cleaning dock with several gallons of fillets that will be exposed to some hot cooking oil!
So, jump in the boat with me and let me recap yesterday’s adventure.
Tawakoni catfish guide dockside ready for a morning of catching catfish. He remarked about the full moon and said we would give the trophy size fish a try. Should they have lockjaw, he was almost positive we could catch plenty of “eaters” in the 2 to 10 pound range.
Blue catfish prefer fresh bloody, oily bait. Hanson is a master at throwing a big cast net. In a matter of a few throws, we had plenty of big gizzard shad for a morning fishing trip. The baitfish were bagged and placed directly on ice to keep them fresh.
A drift sock slows the drift of the boat while drift fishing. The wind was just strong enough to warrant using this device to slow our drift.
The Santee Cooper drift rig consists of a circle hook, a small floater to keep the bait up from bottom during the drift and a weight. Note the boot lace Hanson uses for weight. The lace is filled with 00 buckshot. This innovative rig will drift right over bottom obstructions without getting hung up.
Guide David Hanson with one of the many “eater” blues we landed yesterday. With the passing of the first major cold front, the trophy blue catfish season will arrive. (it will be ON by the time you are reading this) While fish of this size will still be very common, the day’s catch will usually include a few trophy fish.
Back at the cleaning table with what will soon become the makings of one whopper fish fry! Nothing better than crispy fried snow white fillets from blue catfish landed from cold water!