Well the last week or two has been nice, getting together with the Cat Master Richard Shields was quite an adventure. We had a great time and he invited me to join him again in the near future to try some more nighttime noodle fishing or jug fishing as I call it in a different area of Clarks Hill Lake. As the summer heat warms the local waters something magical happens over and over. All the different types of catfish as well as sunfish go thru their spawning rituals as they lay their eggs and raise their young. Watching the sunfish guard their nest is a sight to behold. I have sat beside bream and bass beds for quite a while and watched them work aggressively to keep the predators away and protect their eggs until they hatch. Then you can see all the small fry holding close to the nest after they hatch while the parents guard them. They can be quite aggressive at this time and will hit just about anything thrown at them. The big cats usually lay their eggs in the most remote places and I have seen them in only a few inches of water with small fry all around them. Usually when they lay their eggs they stop feeding for a short while and even if you can get to these remote places they seem to have a one tract mind of taking care of the eggs and small fry. This makes it even harder to diminish the population of these large predators. It seems as if the flathead and blue cats have a huge advantage over most sunfish like bass, crappie and bream in every aspect of their lives. The big flathead hen catfish in one of this week’s pictures has already laid her eggs which can number in the thousands and you can see in the picture that her skin is kind of floppy and loose looking. She is not native to our local waters but that does not deter her from taking them over with a vengeance. She is an eating machine and there is not much we can do to stop them from eating up large populations of our native sunfish, other than removing as many of them as possible from our waters. I know the local catfish guides love having them to catch because they put up quite a fight for the party of anglers on their boats. I don’t think the guides have to worry about not having as many to catch because the numbers of these big cats just keep rising and the bigger they get the more they eat. One of the best tips I can give local rod and reel fishermen is stay close to your rods when fishing for these big cats and the rule of thumb is who ever gets the first ten feet of line will win the battle. The big cats are notorious for heading straight down and under a log or around stump roots in which case they usually break your line. It all depends on the body of water you’re fishing. This is a real problem for fishermen fishing Steven Creek and a lot of backwaters off the Savannah River where these big cats roam the most. They love to lie around stumps and logs waiting for prey to ambush as they swim by. The other picture is a couple of the little guys that I have made a vow to protect by removing as many of the big predator cats as possible from our local waters. The Crappie may not put up as big a fight as the big cats but they sure make good table fair and are very fun to catch. The Crappie usually run in schools and group together so when you catch one there will be closer by. Stay in that area and try to mark the spot with a fish marker thrown in the water or line up the spot between landmark objects on the bank on each side or you. If you watch your fish finder you will notice the large schools of Crappie. See what depth they are at and try to fish right above them. If you put your bait like small minnows below them they wont bite as well. They always look up and swim under the bait to ambush them. If Crappie is the target of the day use small line and a small hook like a # 4 Eagle Claw Aberdeen hook and I use 4 or 6 lb. test Berkley Trilene XL green line which is an extra limp line that lets the minnow swim naturally and is hard to see in the water. This set-up has filled the live well numerous times. Kids can really have fun catching crappie when they are biting well. As I remember my days as a small kid out on the water with my dad it seems that those really were some of the best times of my life. Take your kids fishing with you, I can promise they will never forget those days spent fishing and being outdoors with mom and dad. Stay tuned to The Edgefield Advertiser’s weekly paper edition of the newspaper as we try to hone our fishing skills a little more, give fishing tips every week and for the next King of Cats outdoor adventure around the Edgefield County area.
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