The saying goes “April showers bring May flowers,” but for Joey and Jerry Pounders of Caledonia, Mississippi, April showers bring monster catfish. Team Pounders eats, sleeps, lives and breathes catfishing, and the lower end of the Tenn-Tom Waterway, particularly Columbus and Pickensville Lakes, are their home waters. Though the Pounders fish major catfish tournaments year round, both on the national trails as well as the local Mississippi Catfish Hunters trail, any excuse to go fishing will find them on the water at Columbus Lake, especially with water pouring into the river system from heavy rains.
“A day of rain on this river does impact it,” said Joey Pounders, “so if you get a heavy day of rain, you can anticipate the gates being open at least a foot apiece, sometimes up to 3 or 4 feet each depending on the rain, and that will generate current. Rain affects this place more than it would the Mississippi or Tennessee River.”
Moving water means food to river catfish, so the best places to catch monster catfish are in and around deep holes in the river that provide a current break where catfish can get out of the flow of moving water and watch for food coming through the system.
One of the unique features about Columbus Lake is that while it is an impounded pool of the Tenn-Tom waterway system, there are times and places when it fishes like a lake and other times and places when it fishes like a river. Locations and conditions also play a major role in determining the species of catfish you’re most likely to catch.
“Columbus Lake is a great lake to fish anytime,” said Pounders. “When the current’s rolling pretty good, you’re more likely to get on some blue cats. If the current’s not running too strong, you can use fresh live bait and you can target flatheads. Some of the best flatheads on the entire Tenn-Tom River come out of this lake. It comes down to getting out there and finding the best holes for the situation at hand. Sometimes you don’t need to fish the deepest holes. Sometimes when the water is running pretty good, a flat with only 3 or 4 feet of water will be loaded down with big blue catfish. Different conditions will dictate how you need to fish for different species.”
In the attached video, Team Pounders gives a lesson on braving April showers to tackle a monster at Columbus Lake.