While the Mississippi River is probably the best-known catfish producer in the state, many of Mississippi’s reservoirs also hold their share of decent blue catfish.
Brian Barton, a guide on Lake Pickwick, is another fan of suspended fishing, which he hesitates to call a slow troll because he is moving at such a reduced pace.
“My controlled drift or slow troll, whatever you want to call it, is a vertical presentation that I use almost year-round,” Barton said. “The only difference during the fall is that I am going to concentrate on humps and ledges in deeper water.”
Barton’s tactics are somewhat equipment intensive. He uses state-of-the-art electronics and gear to control the boat and put him on the fish. Fishing from the rear of his boat, he places four to six medium-heavy action baitcasting rods along the stern in a rod holder rack and uses an auto-pilot trolling motor with spot-locking technology to troll at speeds as low as .1 mph.
“There’s not a rush to grab the rod and set the hook,” Barton said. “Most times the rod will simply bow over slightly as the catfish takes the bait, and then he may take off to one side or head to the bottom. Just keep tension in the line and let the circle hook do its thing.”
Barton, like most veteran catfishermen, relishes skipjack herring for bait, which he catches during their fall migrations and freezes for use during the rest of the year. The baits are then cut into bite-sized pieces and hooked on a 3-way rig that utilizes high test Vicious braid on the main line, a weighted dropper, and a 24- to 36-inch leader with a 5/0 circle hook.
“Pickwick is a good place to catch blue catfish,” he said. “The typical-sized blue is probably between 10 and 15 pounds. But we also catch trophies that go up to 50, 60, and 70 pounds.”