I have had a few message's from at least one pay lake, and they are hoping to set March 15th as opening on weekends only. Its not gonna be long !!
POWER PAY LAKE FISHING
Have you ever sat there at the pay lake watching your cork or snitch bob and notice this guy across the lake or next to you who is constantly moving his corks slowly or adjusting depth, etc.? Well, that guy is me! Honestly, Iâ€™m not trying to annoy you with all of this movement and activity. Iâ€™m not the guy who crosses your line every 3rd cast or who puts his cork on the bank in front of you from the far side of lake or keeps casting for no apparent reason. I will discuss him later. What Iâ€™m doing, is what I like to call power pay lake fishing and I have a very good reason for all of this activity because it results in some outstanding catches for me and can for you as well.
Whatâ€™s wrong with the sit and wait method? Well, nothing because you will catch some fish. Iâ€™ll use it myself for channel cats with dip bait when I just want to unwind after a hard week at work, but when I go to a pay lake, I am usually after big blues or shovelheads. I am out to win the weekly jackpot if they have one, and Iâ€™m trying to bust the 40, 50, or 60# jar. If the lake allows me to pay for an extra pole, it may be a "sit- and-wait" pole but it will usually have a very large hunk of cut bait or live bait. If itâ€™s cut bait, I will change the bait about every half an hour to forty five minutes and put back in the same spot. With live bait, I freshen about every two hours or so. These are an exception for me, however, Iâ€™m moving and changing baits to cover water. Sure, fish will come to your baits but itâ€™s better to take your bait to the fish.
TROLLING AND SLOW TROLLING
I first became aware of trolling for catfish about 27 years ago at Lake Louise (a pay lake east of Cincinnati, Ohio which is now closed). At that time, they stocked it with lots of two to ten pound Arkansas blue cats and in the summer, catalpa worms trolled through the schools and produced fish after fish. Trolling is a fairly fast retrieve with a rolling or popping action of the cork. There is no doubt that trolling produces fish, but for me, the fish that it usually produces are in the low twenties; although, I have taken bigger blues that wanted a faster moving bait. I especially like to use it when big blues are rolling or busting on top of the water at night. I will rig a slip float about a foot deep with a large shad and really pop the cork to draw attention. For the most part, I slow troll. However, for this method, I set my corks at three, five, and seven feet and cast them out to my allotted distance and reel them slowly in to three to five feet about every five to ten minutes and let them sit. I repeat this two to three times and then drop the depth and start all over. Each pole will have a different bait (i.e. cut shad, live gold fish, bluegill head etc.). Remember to freshen your bait. When a fish hits, I change two poles to that bait and depth. I keep experimenting with the third. If either of the two like poles get hits, then all three are rigged the same. When the bites slow down, start experimenting again. What should you do when you hit bottom? Keep it up. During mid-day, slowly inching across the bottom with live goldfish or Israeli carp or a big gob of night crawlers, will result in large fish. This is one of my favorite methods for catching big blues and shovelheads.
As you have probably noticed, Iâ€™ve harped on fresh bait and there is a good reason for that. It works! I usually fish ten to twelve times per month and I fish for bait all season long. An example of my usual supply of bait per trip is 4 lbs. of fresh or dead skipjack on ice (these should be wrapped, not soaking), 4 lbs. of shad, 2 lbs. of live goldfish, 2 lbs. of israeli carp, assorted yellow bellies, and pan fish. Be sure to catch your pan fish with rod and reel and donâ€™t even transport with a cast net. I make separate trips for shad and skipjack, then there is no question of me cast-netting pan fish.
Every lake has it own rules. Follow them. You usually get fifteen feet of bank space to middle of lake for the ticket you purchase. Donâ€™t throw left and right, cutting people off. Throwing across the lake into another personâ€™s area makes no sense at all, not to mention just plain rude, and itâ€™s hard to get a good hook set and control a fish with that much line out. Also, throwing to a personâ€™s spot after they have hooked a fish usually ends badly. Keep up with your lines. Going to sleep with large live bait or the wind blowing your line, ends in a mess. If you are new to casting large bait and corks, practice with a cork and weight (no hook) at a soccer or baseball field first. This will help quite a bit. As far as that guy who justs casts and casts with no end in sightâ€¦â€¦Well, if you know what heâ€™s doing, please tell me! I have yet to figure it out.
Home Lake: Catman Blues
Paylakes. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
First off Im no pro, but Ive fished a ton of paylakes over the past couple of years and these are some things Ive noticed that will help define a good paylake from one that is merely looking to make a quick 10$ from ya.
1. If the paylake you frequent most never seems to be "packed" during peak season theres probably a reason and it isnt because its little known. Catfisherman talk to catfisherman and word gets around quick, good and bad, just look at the BOC.
2. If you hear the owners constantly talk about that huge flathead they just put in, ask them for some kind of proof of their stockings. Dates receipts, pictures etc. Your paying hard earned money for the "priveledge" of fishing their lakes. For example my favorite paylake around here videotapes all their stockings by date and keeps them in a huge video library across the baitshop wall. They are happy to show you what they put in and when they did it.
3. Most paylakes buy their fish from hatcheries or half hatchery/half commercial fisherman. Therefore it takes time sometimes for some of their fish to become adjusted to eating natural forage, such as their normal baitfish. But...they will, they may not be used to it, but its still in a cat's natural drive to be a predator, so dont go hunting massive flatheads using doggie kibble. Natural bait is still best.
4. If they have jackpots, and the 40lb and over is 10,000$ dont fish there if thats what your after, that in itself tells you something. BTW, I saw that recently this year.
5. How well is the lakes maintained? If they are dirty, or very trashy, its probably not a good sign, if they dont maintain their lakes they probably dont give a hoot about their fish either.
6.Alot of Luck! Paylakes are always going to be a hit and miss situation unless you know the lakes very well. Sometimes you hit paydirt 3-4 times in one day, sometimes you sit for 12hrs. with a zip here and there on a baitclicker sometimes not at all. If its a good set of lakes or lake patience will pay off.
7. Take a variety of bait to see what they are hitting. Remember some of these fish come from all over the place and whats native for some cats arent for others. I always take a good selection of bluegill, shad, chubs, and my favorite bait, yellowbellies.
This is what has helped me find a few real good lakes and hopefully its helpful to anyone looking for a good payspot in the near future.
Best of Luck!
Increasing your catch efficiency using a slip float.
There are only few times in a season that catfish will be suspending off the bottom of the lake or river. Most times of the year catfish will patrol the bottom for forage and prey, except when coming into the shallow flats at night for feeding. If your fishing a spot with alot of debri on the bottom, or just a very soft bottom in general, a slip float will allow you to put the bait pretty much in front of the fish's face.
Here is the method I use to suspend bait just off the bottom when fishing from bank:
When I choose the spot in a lake or reservoir that I want to fish, I first throw out a line with just a sinker on it. I retrieve it slowly checking to see how many snags I come in contact with on bottom. Cover on bottom is prime habitat for flatheads, but too much and you'll likely never get the fish out of it once youve hooked it. After Ive assessed the bottom and think I have a pretty good feel for whats down there, I determine if I can get away with just putting my bait out on bottom, or if a float is going to be needed. If I determine a float is needed I choose the float size necessary to keep whatever size bait Im using off the bottom. I then rig up the float down to a swivel, and use a light test line with a sinker below the swivel (this way if I get snagged up when setting my depth I can break off easilly and lose nothing but a sinker). I put the sinker out where I want to put my bait later and adjust my bobber stop up my main line until the float lays on its side. This is a pretty good indication Im on bottom or very near it. I then reel in and slide my bobber stop back down the line 1-3 feet the float should be standing at this point. I then tie on my leader and terminal tackle, and bait up. Now I know my bait is suspended just 1-3 feet off the bottom. Fish as tight lined as possible as to not let the fish run when he takes the float under, that will normally get you snagged. When the float submerges and the fish starts a bend on your rod tip, set in on him hard and fast. Horse him good for the first few feet of line and get him out of any snags hes heading for. Now you have a way to fish a snaggy area, without so much worry about losing your rigs, and can still put the bait in front of the fish.