Hopefully by now you have read enough of the catfishing articles here to know that blue catfish and quite different in their feeding habits and patterns than channel and flathead catfish. They are all “whiskered fish” and many people commonly talk about catfishing in general terms and lump them all in together. These are all very different species with very different patterns and behaviors. They do share some of the same traits but are quite different fish when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it.
I get questioned constantly in person and through the catfishing questions page about blue catfish and like I mentioned in the magic bullet people not thoroughly thinking through their approach to catching this species.
Before we proceed, if you have not already done so I want to you go to the links below and read every single page, word for word, and watch the catfishing video. Read and watch them a few times if you have to, as you need to soak up every single word on these pages.
This is again important because to catch these fish, you need to understand what you are targeting, and how and where you are going to target them by understanding the nature of these fish.
The number one tool available to the angler is good electronics. Whether you want to call them a graph, sonar, fishfinder or any other term, it doesn’t matter what you call them. What matters is that you have them and you know how to use them.
You Must Have Electronics – The #1 Tool For Catfishing For Blues
Because of the nature of these fish you must have electronics on your boat, know how to use them, know how to read them, and know what to do once you accomplish all of that.
These fish are considered predators and scavengers or at least that is the way that most biologists will refer to them. Others have described them as “opportunistic predators”. What does that all mean?
Blue catfish will eat dead bait fish, mussels, insects and even prepared baits (like a channel catfish) but they will also “strike when the iron is hot” and eat bait fish when given the opportunity. They are eating machines and will forage heavily on everything they can stuff themselves with when the opportunity presents itself. It’s pretty common to open the stomachs of big fish and have them by stuffed full of shad.
THE PRIMARY DIET OF A BLUE CATFISH IS SHAD
To find the fish, you must find the shad, when you find the shad you must find the ACTIVE feeding fish, to do this you must have electronics. These fish will always be at or near a food source, always. While on occasion you may mark fish in open waters roaming across expansive flats and not mark shad schools in the immediate area, as a general rule where you find fish, you will find bait and in turn where you find bait you will find fish.
Now before all the “whatiffers” start posting comments and sending me emails let me address this issue before it comes up.
It is possible to catch blue catfish without electronics but your success will be LIMITED.
I know some awesome catfishermen that don’t use a graph (fish finder) and probably wouldn’t know how to even turn one on. They can catch them but their ability to do so is limited by their ability to find these fish. There are certain times of the year where you can certainly catch blue catfish without having a graph just by learning their patterns, bait fish patterns and some other natural “tattle tales” to help you find the fish but these time periods and very brief and limited and outside of these specific patterns and time periods you will be fishing BLIND. You’ll be throwing baits into areas that you don’t KNOW are holding fish and you will be fishing with “blind luck”.
Your graph (fish finder) is your window to what is going on under your boat and in the water around you. There are certainly times where I don’t rely on my graph for catching blue catfish, like in shallow water or when cormorant catfishing but overall as a general rule you need electronics and you certainly need electronics for catching shad on a consistent basis.
If I don’t have my graph I am dead in the water as far as catching blue catfish goes during much of the year.
In future articles I will go into some of the details for choosing, setting up and using your “fishfinder”.
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Do you use a graph? Is your success heavily dependent on it?