Several months ago I filmed a show where I guest hosted another episode of the Fox Sports Outdoors TV show, something I do on a semi-frequent basis filling in for the host Barry Stokes.
You can check out a couple of previous episodes like this one on winter catfishing and this one on catching spring shallow water blue catfish.
The latest show I hosted aired in April 2015.
I’ve been dealing with some personal matters and a death in the family and haven’t had much time for anything here at Catfish Edge so I’m really behind schedule posting this.
I sincerely apologize for the delays as well as my absence.
Splat Fishing For Catfish
Splat fishing or “plop fishing” as some call it is one of my favorite ways to catch blue catfish. It’s not something I get to do as much of as I’d like but a technique I’ve been using for a couple of decades and I really enjoy.
Years ago before I began my career as a catfish guide I’d learn some of the basics and splat fishing or catching catfish around cormorant roosts. I’d given it a try a few times and done very well but felt there were some pieces missing to what I knew and the techniques I was using so I set out to learn more.
I invested a lot of time and energy learning on my own and perfecting the techniques as well as learning what other anglers did when using these techniques. One of the anglers I learned from was Benny Roberts who makes Sure Shot Catfish Punch Bait. Ultimately I learned a lot on my own, learned a lot from other anglers and perfected the techniques of learning to locate and catch blue catfish around roosting cormorants through a lot of time and effort.
It’s a great technique for not only catching big numbers of blue catfish for a lot of fast paced action but also produces some big trophy class blue catfish at times also.
Splat fishing is also an incredibly consistent technique or pattern for catching catfish. It’s one of the closest things there is to a sure thing when it comes to catching catfish.
What Is Splat Fishing?
It’s pretty gross, it’s really unique and it’s kind of cool. Most pople that witness this or hear me explain get pretty disgusted but those that have seen how well these techniques work quickly change their tune.
The fishing is usally so action packed and consistent that you’ll quickly overcome any reservations you may have about it being gross. My first time out splat fishing I caught over 100 fish in a four hour period and it made a believer out of me.
Cormorants or “water turkeys” as we call them in Texas, winter on many lakes across the country when the first cool front of the year arrives. It’s common to find hundreds of roosting birds on lakes and reservoirs. They’re also resident on many bodies of water across the United States as well where you’ll find them all year long.
There’s many lakes and reservoirs across the country where you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands of bois d’arc trees (or other trees) on the water covered with roosting cormorants. I often get questions from folks outside of Texas who’ve never heard of a bois d’arc tree so let me clarify, bois d’arc is Texan for a horse apple tree.
The kind of tree is irrelevant though. It’s the birds and their behavior that are important.
These birds are eating machines and considered nuisance birds by most because of this. They’ll consume up to one pound of fresh fish in a single feeding and up to 1.5 times their body weight in a single day. They’re known to do major damage to fish populations in small ponds and a target of many farmers.
The digestive systems of cormorants are very poor. The fish they eat is not processed well and only partially digested. The result of their feeding habits and poor digestive systems is a catfish anglers dream.
Before the sun sets the birds return to their roosts where they’ll spend their evenings and the “magic” happens. They spend their nights dropping partially digested shad in the water. These large groups of cormorants gathered in a small area dropping partially digested shad in the water and creates a form of natural chum and a food source for blue catfish, and you’ll find lot’s of them anywhere you’ll find these roosting birds under the right conditions.
Catfish can often be seen tailing on top of the water on calm days and they pack into these areas so thick that catching a fish per cast is often possible.
Gearing Up For Splat Fishing
Gearing up for splat fishing is simple. You don’t need any overly complex catfish tackle and gear to catch fish with these techniques. Just make sure you use the right tools for the job because this isn’t your typical rod in the holder sit and wait type of catfishing. It’s an active fishing technique or what I often refer to as “finesse fishing” for cats.
You’ll want a rod that’s light and sensitive because you’ll be holding the rod and casting for extended periods of time but also something with a good backbone for horsing fish out of heavy timber.
I’m using my 7’6 MH Chad Ferguson Signature Series Catfish Rod from Whisker Seeker Tackle. The one piece or two piece MH model are perfect for these techniques.
You can find other options in the Ultimate Guide To Catfish Rods.
I prefer the Abu Garcia 5500 C3 baitcast reel because of it’s size, weight and line capacity. It’s well suited for casting repeatedly and for extended periods of time as required by these techniques. The slightly smaller size than my overall favorite catfish reel the 6500 C3 is just an overall better fit but you can use the larger 6500 series reels as well as any other catfish reel for that matter.
Check out the Ultimate Guide To Catfish Reels for for in depth information and options for choosing the right reel.
If you’ve followed Catfish Edge for long you know I’m not a fan of braided fishing line as a general rule but this is one of the rare exceptions where braid is the best choice. Because you’ll be casting in and around heavy timber you’ll need the strength and durability of braid to pull rigs and fish out of the timber. Just make sure you’re using a good quality braid that casts well. Not all braided fishing lines are created equal.
I’m using Berkley Fireline Tracer in this video.
The remaining tackle is simple. You’ll need an assortment of split shot sinkers, some round weighted foam bobbers and some size #4 treble hooks that are 4X strong so you can rig a traditional bobber rig.
There’s a variety of options for catfish bait while splat fishing. I’ve caught catfish using many different baits and even artificial baits or “lures” intended for bass but my “go to” bait is punch bait. Any good quality and proven punch bait will work. In this show I’m using Uncle Josh Punch Bait.
I prefer the punch style baits over others because the hook is baited without handling or touching them and they look (and smell) like the wad of cormorant droppings the catfish are feeding on.
Techniques For Splat Fishing
The key to catching cats using these techniques is locating the night roosting locations of the cormorants not their day roosting locations. These are generally shallow water areas in the backs of creeks and coves. Areas where rivers feed into lakes and reservoirs are often a favorite roosting location.
The best fishing will be on days with very little to no wind in the morning.
Be on the water early, well before sunrise and locate the roosting areas with “white washed” trees. There is a very limited window of time from first light so be rigged and ready to start fishing quickly.
These fish spook easily, so be very quiet when you get near these areas. It’s best to use a trolling motor and be very careful not to bump into any trees or stumps or make any unnecessary noises. I’ve got the Minn Kota iPilot Link on my SeaArk ProCat 240 which really makes fishing these techniques much easier when it comes to boat control.
Catfishing Tips For Splat Fishing (Cormorant Catfishing)
Day roosts are different than night roosts and won’t produce as well. If you pressure birds in day roosts they’ll eventually move or leave and you’ll ruin the fishing so make sure you target the right roosts. This might mean spending some time scouting and planning days in advance of your fishing trip for the first time of the season.
Stay as far back as possible and cast around the the roosts and pay close attention to noise. These fish spook easily and getting your boat too close or making too much noise will lock them up.
When the bobber hits the water allow it to sit then retrieve and repeat the process working through each area of timber.
Most fish will bite within seconds of the bobber hitting the water, thinking it’s a cormorant above dropping them a meal.
When casting the bobber should make a big “splat” or splash when it hits the water. Pay close attention to your casting technique and use the previously mentioned round weighted floats.
Keep plenty of punch bait on the hook and rebait it often (almost every cast).
You need to work quickly and efficiently as this is very time sensitive and the later in the morning it gets the slower the fishing will be. Make sure you’re casting skills are up to the challenge and your gear is in good condition. You want all of your time to be spent fishing and not fighting with gear or attempting to pull your line out of trees and timber.
The results of these techniques will almost always be a nice mess of blue and channel catfish and you might even catch a monster blue cat that you’ll be bragging about for years to come. Just make sure you’re fishing in the right conditions.
There’s many other options for catching catfish with these techniques and ways to improve your odds of catching fish as it gets later in the day and under less than ideal conditions. To get all of the in depth details, tips, tricks and information and learn everything you need to know about using these techniques for catching catfish check out the Splat Fishing for Catfish ebook from Catfish Edge.
Check out the other Catfish Edge products as well to get on the fast track to catching more and bigger catfish on your next fishing trip. They’re like a guided fishing trip for catfish at a fraction of the cost and backed by a 100% satisfaction guaruntee.
Here’s The Show
Here’s the show in full length unedited. If you’re not interested in all of the regional fishing reports and information you’ll have to skip around a bit to get to the catfish stuff.