Fan-casting to tempt winter catfish is more than just a random presentation of baits. Once the boat has been anchored, catfish anglers must target specific features within reach of the boat.

“I’m almost always going to anchor around some kind of channel or break line,” said Chris Simpson, a veteran catfish guide. “I might place a rod forward on the break line and another rod on the back of the boat on the break line. Then I’m looking for additional structural targets like rocks, old logs or other cover.”

In order to target these locations, Simpson arranges rod holders around the perimeter of his boat so that he doesn’t have to worry about crossing lines.

“You want to anchor parallel to the break line; that gives you the best options,” he said. “One trick I learned a long time ago when catfish are tight to cover is to slowly reel the bait back to the boat after the line has settled to the bottom. I want to bump the weight into the structure, then I’ll give that line a little slack and leave it there.”

One other factor that Simpson doesn’t want to leave out is making sure he drops at least one line straight down from the boat.

“When I cut -bait fish, I usually chum the discarded parts over the side,” he said. “There’s always that one cat that comes to investigate where the chum is coming from and he usually ends up getting the down rod.”