This started out as a brief article on something I observed on the lake and some of the mistakes I commonly see and then grew into much more the more time I spent working on it and thinking about it. The I finally decided I had to do a podcast with it because I was not sure I had covered it all.
It All Started On The Lake
I was at the lake a couple of months ago and after dropping my clients off I decided to go do a little scouting to see what the fish were up to in an area of the lake I had not fished in a while.
I did some driving around watching my sidescan in my Humminbird 1198c looking for fish and found some pretty quickly. There were some shore anglers not to far from my chosen location so I moved down a bit to keep a good respectable distance from them.
I stopped, stuck my DIY shallow water anchors in the mud and decided to grab a quick snack and return a couple of phone calls before I cast my baits out.
While sitting there I was watching these anglers fishing from the shore. They had really long heavy surf rods, probably 10 feet long or more. They were wading out into the water about waist deep and casting these surf rods as far as they could throw them into the middle of the lake.
I finished my phone calls and baited up a mixture of santee rigs and slip sinker rigs with fresh caught shad and started casting my baits up towards the bank. By the time I had my last line in the water I was getting bites and had my first blue catfish in the boat.
I repeated this process of reeling in fish four or five times over the course of the next five to ten minutes and noticed the guys fishing from the shore watching me.
They were paying very close attention to me at that point.
I watched them reel in lines, check baits and continue to wade out and cast as far as they could into the middle of the lake several times over the next little while and during this time I continued to reel in fish.
The whole thing got me thinking.
Why is it that so many shore anglers are so intent on casting baits as far as they can into the lake or river? True, there are some anglers that don’t do this but the vast majority seem to be focused on how far they can cast their baits away from the shore.
Through my conversations with shore anglers over the years a common theme is them trying everything they can to get their catfish baits as far as they can throw them from the shore. The further they can get them the happier they are.
The opposite side of the spectrum is that many boat anglers spend the vast majority of their time from a boat fishing right up and around the shore, never fishing the deeper water lairs that hold fish that the shore fishing anglers are often trying to get to. I blame bass fishermen for this problem as anglers see them constantly working shorelines and get into the mindset that they need to be working shorelines for all species of fish.
There are times to fish deep water and times to fish shallow but the truth is that at least one species of catfish can be caught in shallow water all year long. There are certainly times that are better than others but catfish can be caught in water that is five feet deep or less all year long.
Fish Where The Fish Are
The guys fishing from the shore continued watching me and I finally saw them cast their lines left and right of their location into the same general distance from the shore that I had my baits. Within minutes they had a fish on the line and it was the first one I had seen them catch in the time I had been sitting there.
They had been casting over the fish into dead water the entire time they had been sitting there.
If you’re fishing from the shore you need to break yourself from the mindset that you have to be as far away from the shore as you can cast, it’s limiting your ability to catch fish. Again, don’t
If you are fishing from a boat, don’t fall into the mistake of only focusing on shorelines and not paying attention to the deeper water areas that you have immediate access to.
You need to fish where the fish are, and a good portion of the time you are fishing that is not going to be as far away from the shore that you can cast.
What The Best Anglers Know
Anglers have many different techniques. They all approach fishing in a different manner and many are successful, but some more than others.
One of the best anglers I know that doesn’t fish from a boat uses a kayak but it’s only a means of transportation. He drops the kayak in the water, paddles to an area and drags it to the shore and starts fishing.
He walks shorelines both on the shore and in the water and finesse fishes cover in shallower water, and he almost always catches fish. He does exceptionally well.
It’s important to say again that the kayak is only a means of transportion. He fished for years without it and he walked every where and he finally bought a cheap kayak to help cut down on his drive time on land and the time he spent walking to get to his chosen location.
He doesn’t use long fishing rods, he doesn’t make long casts, he focuses on finesse fishing and covering shallower water the vast majority of the year and he catches a tremendous amount of fish of all sizes and all three species of catfish.
Much of his fishing is done within a few feet of where he is standing.
He uses the secret catfish rig and punch bait for catching channel catfish and he slays them. I often see him wading along the shoreline with a big mess of channel catfish on a stringer tied to his belt.
He catches shad from the shore and he finesse fishes for blue catfish, fishing very close to the shoreline or within a reasonable casting distance in shallow water areas and catches big numbers of blue catfish and trophy class fish as well. He employes the same exact techniques I taught him for splat fishing and catching spring blue catfish and he does it from the shore.
He’s a bang up flathead angler and catches big flatheads, and he does it the same way, fishing very close to where he is standing.
Don’t think for a minute that you have to cast as far away from the shore as possible when shore fishing and if fishing from a boat don’t get locked on and focused on shorelines.
You need to fish where the fish are, and that changes all the time.
The Six Shore Fishing Secrets
I started thinking about what he does different from the majority of shore fishing anglers, not all of them but the majority.
I tried to get him to do an interview with me but he declined because he was concerned with how many people listen to the podcast and know that we are friends and that me interviewing him would reveal his fishing holes.
Then I came up with a list of his “secrets” to shore fishing for catfish and what makes him successful and started discussing the list with him.
This is how he started successfully catching catfish consistently from the shore:
1. Go Rogue – He quit going to places that were “overcrowded” and “over pressured” by other anglers. These are the “easy” spots to get to. The places you can pull right up, jump out of the truck and fish with very little to no walking. These are the places that most anglers go to when they don’t have a boat.
2. Pattern and Keep Records – He learned to pattern shad and fish and learned when, where and why they move into areas that he could easily and safely access. How? He went on a few fishing trips with me and then he relentlessly started fishing, learning and keeping detailed fishing logs of his success and failures.
3. Target What Bites Best – He capitalizes on what is going to provide him with the best fishing all year long that fits into his fishing style, techniques and equipment. He targets blues, channels and flatheads at the right time when he can get to them.
4. Get Mobile – He doesn’t “set up” and wait. He moves, he finesse fishes and he goes to the fish instead of waiting for them to come to him. He relentlessly works the shallow water areas and cover and he drops the baits right on top of the fish.
5. Make The Most Of Your Time – He maximizes his time when fishing. Rather than wasting dead time driving around or walking he invested $200 on a kayak on Craigslist and he uses it to paddle and get to an area and he gets out and walks.
6. Be Stealth - He’s stealth. He doesn’t share anything with anyone and nobody would ever have any idea how well he does. He stays under the radar and he keeps quiet about when, where and how he is catching fish.
These are the keys that define his success catfish fishing from the shore. I’m convinced that if more people would take this approach and put a little extra time and effort into fishing from the shore they would catch more fish. I’m going to talk about this more in the future and will continue working on getting him to do an interview as well.
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