Between manufacturing catfish bait and juglines, being a catfish guide, and running Learn To Catch Catfish I spend a lot of time talking to people about fishing and answering questions about fishing. Truth be told, one of the main reasons I started this website is I wanted a place to refer people to for the questions I get as I often get asked many of them over and over and over again (like the basics of fishing with catfish punch bait and how to make catfish chum or explaining catfish rigs.
For years I kept detailed records in a fishing log recording weather and water conditions, catch information and much more in a fishing log book. These detailed records where a major contributing factor in my success in learning catfish patterns and habits. I have reached a point now where I no longer keep up with this as much as I should (although I probably should still be doing so). I have recently started keeping a basic weekly report but this is really not a fishing log in the traditional sense. I have been doing this log enough now that most of the information I need is in my head though.
I was having on the phone with one of my guide clients the other day that has been fishing with me for years and we were talking about the difficulty he was having catching catfish on his home lake. His struggle was that this time last year he had done exceptionally well and now he couldn’t buy a bite.
This led me into a series of questioning that included:
- What was the water level last year at this time?
- What was the water temperature last year at this time?
- Were you using the same baits?
- Where and how deep were you fishing last year?
One of the biggest mistakes that anglers make is trying to rely on memory to keep up with what the fish are doing or relying on recalling “what worked last year in September”. The problem with this is that conditions change and fish react to those conditions.
Just because you caught four limits of channel catfish in eight feet of water last May doesn’t mean that those fish are going to be doing
the same thing or will be in the same depth this May. Many contributing factors, again water temperature, lake levels, weather conditions etc will move the fish or cause them to react differently.
I see people make this mistake time and time again. I often fish guide clients that are trying to learn to catch fish and I take them to a place and we catch huge numbers of fish in one spot, often times I will see them back in this “spot” fishing again the next year and not catching fish. They come away scratching their heads wondering why the fish are not there. Things are different every year and fish may follow seasonal movements days or weeks earlier or later depending on weather conditions and environmental factors.
This year was a prime example on Eagle Mountain Lake. I was seeing anglers daily out fishing the places where the channel catfish usually spawn and not catching fish, meanwhile I was on some of the best fishing of the year. Back at the boat ramp I was getting lots of questioning on how and where I was catching catfish and statements like “it’s June they should be spawning”. We had much colder Winter and Spring that normal and the early Summer was much cooler than normal and everything was late, everything, the Spring pattern was late, the pro and post spawn was late, the list goes on and on.
How do you overcome this hurdle? By keeping a fishing log and tracking the different things that effect catfish. By doing this you learn to rely on how the environmental factors an temperatures effect fish you will learn to locate them and catch them more successfully each time you are out catfishing on the lake or river.
There are a number of companies that sell software, charts and some other resources as well that are quite honestly all jibberish that I wouldn’t spend a dime on, so don’t waste your time (or money).
- Water Body Fished:
- Hours Fished:
- Best Times:
- Weather Conditions (Sunny, Partly Cloudy, Cloudy, Overcast, Rainy):
- Water Temp:
- Air Temp:
- Moon Phase:
- Target Species:
- Baits Used:
- Presentation Used:
- Depths Fished:
- Areas Fished:
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