The summer months bring many things, but nothing better than the opportunity to go drown some worms and catch a good mess of Lake D’Arbonne catfish.
“This is a great time to catch catfish, and there are no better baits than worms,” said Ron Manning, a lake resident. “I guess my favorite is the nightcrawler, and we can catch them right in the backyard this time of year.
“We also have access to catalpa worms, and they are tough to beat, too.”
Cold worms and regular red worms also work on D’Arbonne cats this month, he said. Store-bought commercial dough bait will also work. Manning prefers the chicken blood-type because it has the most potent odor.
Once you have bait in hand, or bucket, here’s how Manning fishes.
“Find a place where current is breaking if you can, and fish the edge of that in the eddies,” he said. “The catfish will just lay up and wait for something good to eat to flow through.”
Manning also likes to anchor the boat and tightline right under the bait in deeper water, especially around trash. That helps keep snags to a minimum. He lowers his bait to the bottom, then raises it up one turn of the reel handle. If there is no current, look for ridges or flats that have deeper water nearby. Catfish feed a lot at night, but this month they’ll be up on the flats looking for food just like other species.
For a leisurely approach to catching catfish, Manning likes to take advantage of subtle summer breezes and drift fishes across flats. He goes to one side of the flat, throws out his bait and lets the wind drift the boat and the bait slowly across. If there is a lot of bottom cover, he uses a bobber to keep the bait suspended a foot or so just a foot or so above any snags.
Catfish are noted nibblers: They often nibble on the bait several times before taking it. So never set the hook until you feel the fish take the bait. One way Manning increased his catch-to-bite success rate is by using a circle hook. He likes 2/0 or 3/0 hooks and said when the fish get hold of them, you just have to tighten the line, reel in and you’ve got them.