Meridian Star

May 3, 2013

Catfish on the Rocks

By Mike Giles
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — They say April Showers bring May flowers and I might also add “catfish on the rocks”, if you’re talking Okatibbee Reservoir that is! And you can take that to the bank, (no pun here.) Depending upon the weather, give or take a couple weeks, the catfish will head to the rocks to spawn on the Big O. Catfish in May are kind of like crappie in April on this popular flood control lake.

    Thousands of catfish will seek prime spawning grounds and a lot of that happens to be right along the causeway on the upper end of the lake, as well as the dam. While they also spawn almost anywhere you can find shallow water, the rocks are prime targets for a great majority of the fish. And there will always be enough water to spawn in along the rocks.

    And the rocks are perfect ambush points for anglers of all persuasions, especially those who like to fish off of the banks. No sophisticated gear needed here. “You get a line, I’ll get a pole and we’ll go down to the catfish hole.” Yes, and I guarantee you that we’ll catch a bunch of catfish too! The catfish don’t know what you’re fishing with.

    A simple rig consisting of a cane pole, hook, line and bobber are all that is needed. Of course if you have a Zebco spin cast rod and reel or a light tackle spinning reel and rod that will suffice also. What’s important is to get out there and go fishing.

    Thousands of channel cats will be caught, skinned, filleted and put in the freezer this month and provide a whale of a time for kids and adults alike, due to their ease of locating and catching.

    What type of bait can you catch them on? That’s easily answered, almost anything that you can put on a hook, because they’re not choosy. Yes, catfish feed by sight and smell and if it smells good they’ll bite it. Some folks use commercially prepared stinking catfish bait and others use natural bait, but they all work.

    I prefer red worms, or similar types of earthworms. If you’ll get a long shank bream hook you can put just enough bait on the hook to catch a cat. Now we’re not talking about huge catfish here. The average spawning cat that we’re talking about goes from 3/4 of a pound to 2 pounds. And they’re fun to catch and good to eat.

    Of course other folks will also use minnows and catalpa worms. If you use minnows you might also catch bass, and an occasional crappie and that’s fun too. But for my money, and ease of use, red worms are economical and do a fine job.

    Now how do you locate spawning catfish you might ask? Well, get your rig baited up and adjust that cork about 15 to 18 inches above your hook and one small split shot. Then simply pitch that worm anywhere from 5 to 10 feet off the rocks and let it sit a minute. If you don’t get bit then reel it in and move it a little further down the rocks.

Keep on the moving and working each area making fan casts around the area alongside the rocks until you cover that area thoroughly. If you don’t get bit just keep on moving down the rocks. Sooner or later you’ll catch one and when you do stop immediately, anchor the boat, or pitch out a buoy. You don’t want to lose your spot. Because just as crappie bed in bunches, the catfish do too. Where you catch one you’ll usually catch more. I’ve found that I’ll sometimes catch eight or 10 in one spot before the action slows and I’ll move on and find other similar spots that provide fast and furious action.

    Now some folks prefer anchoring down and staying in one spot and if it’s a prime spawning area the catfish may swim in and out all day long. But for my money, I want to move along and catch the active catfish.

    Do you know somebody who likes to catch fish? Usually it’s hard for kids to catch fish on the Big O, but not during the spawn when you’re in the right place at the right time. That time is fast approaching so don’t delay, head to the lake today! If you go regularly over the next few days or weeks, you’re sure to catch a few. Another thing’s for sure, you won’t catch them at the house! Get outdoors and go fishing today.

    Contact  Mike Giles at

601-917-3898 or e-mail him at