Moderating water levels and falling water temperatures have provided the combination of conditions that Bob Crosby of Blue Cat Guide Service (601-953-5767) loves to see on the Mississippi River. For most of the summer, high water and high water temperatures made fishing the Mississippi near Vicksburg tough, but Crosby said it looks like the fall blue catfish bite has now arrived.

“We have been smoking the big catfish on the Mississippi River,” said Crosby, who guides on the Mississippi around the historic Vicksburg area. “The water is low, stable and clear. The water temps have dropped from 85 down to 75 real quick and that always cuts the blue cat bite on.”

Crosby indicated that by targeting drop-offs, ledges and scour holes in the 30 – 60 foot depth range, he has landed a 67-pounder, a 44-pounder and numerous blue catfish in the 20-pound range in the last week. Crosby said having fresh bait is the key and he has been able to round up plenty of skipjack herring for his guide trips of late.

“I prefer to target trophy catfish, so most of my tackle is outfitted with two hook rigs,” he said. “That’s a hook in the head and a trailer hook in the tail on a fresh 8 – 10 inch skipjack. I use 8/0 Gamakatsu circle hooks with a slider for my sinker like a slip slider. Typically, I use 6- to 8-ounce weights to keep the bait on the bottom in a moderate current.”

Crosby keeps a yearly log of his cat fishing trips and looks forward to the coming of the fall bite, which typically provides the best water, and the best weather for catching good catfish.

“Most of the dikes come out of the water at Vicksburg at about 14 feet, but they’re all out at 12 feet,” said Crosby. “Right now, we’re about 6 feet with almost steady water so it’s no trouble to  fish the scour holes at the end of the dikes and that’s where we catch the big, big fish. We catch big fish all the time but it seems like those scour holes at the end of the dikes is where we catch those 40, 50+ pound fish.”

Looking forward, Crosby predicts the bite will only get better from now until big blue cats start getting finicky as the spawn approaches in the spring.

“They’ll bite all through the fall and even during the cold of winter,” he said. “We might have to bundle up, but you warm up pretty quick fighting big catfish.”