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‘Tis the season for giant blue catfish

DECEMBER MAY NOT OFFER the stereotypical good fishing weather, but when it comes to blue catfish, let’s just say it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Blue catfish congregate in the winter when the water gets cold, which enables you to locate them in large numbers. And unlike some species, their feeding doesn’t slow down in winter. Big catfish have to eat a lot to maintain their body mass, and during the winter, they get nice and fat from lying around in their favorite wintering hole and eating.

There are many wintertime haunts for big blue catfish throughout the Bluegrass State. Blue catfish can be found in rivers and lakes, and they prefer deep water in the winter. Look for the main river channel in lakes. You might find them anywhere along this channel, but small creek channels that run into the main channel are often a tipoff to blue cats’ whereabouts. This also holds true in rivers. Small tributaries that dump into the river will often hold big schools of catfish. The Mississippi and Ohio rivers are the most popular destinations for big blue catfish. Here are two great fisheries that you might want to check out for blue catfish this season.

Taylorsville Lake covers more than 3,000 acres and has been stocked and regulated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources for trophy blue catfish. It’s working, too. With a 97-pound blue catfish landed in 2020, Taylorsville Lake obviously has the right habitat and food sources to produce big catfish.

Meandering through the mountains and the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Kentucky River finally enters the Ohio River at Carrollton. It’s a great place to catch big blue catfish. Look for current breaks and deep holes, which are usually located where the river turns to create an inside bend. These areas collect a lot of wood and offer the catfish everything they need all year long.

The tackle and bait need not be fancy. All you need to go after big blue cats in December are a heavy rod and reel that can handle a hard fight, as well as shad or other baitfish that is cut into sections.

There are plenty of great fisheries here in Kentucky, and as things slow down this winter, I encourage you to get out and chase some big blue catfish. A big one isn’t always easy to find, but you will have a blast looking for one and enjoying the great outdoors.

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