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Drift Fishing for Catfish

Nov 27, 2007
Drift fishing is the name of a popular technique used for catching all types of fish, and catfish are no exception. In fact, as cats mostly live in moderate to high current situations, drift fishing can be a very effective means of catfishing.

Especially, if you are fishing in a long stretch of water, and are unsure of the location of the fish, or in cases of questionably heavy bottom cover, where bottom rigs are continuously fouled and snagged, drift fishing is a top solution to enjoying a peaceful float along the waterway, and covering a lot of ground while fishing, with little chance of snagging, once the correct fishing depth is attained.

Most cats require acclimatization to an "odd" bait, and so, are cautious around many fabricated baits, making drift fishing with these baits sometimes less effective, but big cats will often strike a naturally-occurring bait as a matter of opportunity, as it drifts along past them.

Once they are bigger, Channel Catfish and Blue Catfish, especially, are both almost exclusively fish-eating species, and will seek out a nicely-presented dead fish (four or five inches long, and somewhat stinky) as it is drift-fished past their hideaway, as this is just how their favorite food shows up in nature.... drifting into their space with the current.

Drift fishing for cats, like all catfish pursuit, is best done in late evening and overnight, though it is not impossible to get a bite during the day, if your bait happens to be in the right place, at the right time. You'll need a boat, obviously, and possibly a drift fishing "drag", like a parachute, or a small and very quiet electric trolling motor, to slow your surface drift speed to match the more languid pace down below, where ideally, we want to allow the bait to float and tumble in a deceptively lifelike fashion, to get the most attention from the cats. Drifting too fast, and pulling your bait, becomes more like trolling, and greatly reduces your likelihood of bagging a cat.

Line weighting for drift fishing is a touchier subject, as the size and type of bait you are using, the tendency of your line to float or sink, and your drift speed will all influence the depth at which your bait will "want" to drift at. Bigger baits tend to sink fairly well all by themselves, but smaller or more buoyant baits will need some weighting to get then down where they can be found by the catfish.

Cats, however, are extremely sensitive to the feel of a weight associated with the bait, and will spit the bait out within a couple of seconds, or faster, if they can sense the unusual nature of what they are taking - remember, that cats "see"up close, almost entirely with their sense of touch. For this reason, use as small of a sinker as you can get away with, to weight your line, and ideally, simply increase your bait size, or its buoyancy, to make it dive, rather than using sinkers for drift fishing. It's all about the lifelike presentation of the bait, here.
About the Author
Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is committed to providing the best saltwater fishing information possible. Get more information on drift fishing for catfish here: http://www.askcatfishfishing.com
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