O'Neill Williams holding a large catfish.

O’Neill with a nice “cat.”

In lakes, reservoirs and bigger ponds all over the South, the largemouth, spots, a few smallmouths, walleyes and even the crappie are off the banks and are deep. If you’re good at it, docks and bridges will help but when I say deep, I’m meaning 40 to 60 plus feet. Stripers hit the surface occasionally but it’s seldom. So with so much down time, you’d better have a good friend with you to kill the time in between. So, here’s a thought: summer is catfish time!

Catfish are summer fish, you know where they are – on the bottom – and all you have to do is get something down there they can smell. That’s how they find their food. Smell. Give some of the following a try and see if you’ll get a biggun or two.

Know this. The whiskers on a catfish are highly sensitive antenna for detecting smells. As a matter of fact, most catfish species have spots and lines on their sides that qualify as taste buds. He’s a roving smell detector.


Number 1: Night crawlers. But here’s a tip. Once you hook up one or two, cut them up in several places. Keep them on the hook for sure but if you cut them, the leaking smell of blood and other fluids will track much farther, and the catfish can locate them. Sounds cruel but you’re going to feed them to the fish so what the heck.

Number 2: Corn kernels right off the cob or out of a can. Catfish and carp love them. That’s how my friend and I made money in our teenage summers, fishing local “dollar” ponds with corn and selling our catch to the other people on the lake. Using canned corn kernels, we’d scatter them out in front of where we were fishing and soon every catfish and carp in the lake was in front of us.

Number 3: Dough balls. The additional trick is to flavor the dough balls with an additional smell like honey, or even bourbon.

Number 4: Shrimp. Be sure to take off the shell so the smell will travel farther and quicker.

For a half day’s fishing, pick three places where a creek enters the lake and on a curve in the creek channel about 30 feet, (you can find it with your electronics) dump the can of corn there (be sure and open the can). After the kernels have spread out and settled to the bottom, try fishing there with a variety of “stink” baits. When one place quits if the fish get spooked, go to the next one and so on.  Rotate the target areas returning to each one.

It’ll work. Finally, there’s no better table fish than catfish (except Walleye) and you’ll have plenty.

Gotta add one more directive.  Telephone Captain Darryl Smith, a catfish guide at Santee Cooper, travel there and fish a couple of days with Darryl. He fishes out of a 30-foot pontoon, and I’ll be surprised if you don’t catch 500 pounds of cats up to 30-pounds in two days before lunch. Look him up on the net. I’ve fished with Darryl a half dozen times and never failed to fill up a 70-quart cooler every time. If it’s too heavy to pick up, you should stop and rest. Review Darryl at www.captdarrell.com.

Photo: provided by O’Neill Williams