During winter and early spring, big blue catfish run the river channel, feeding along the channel ledges. They rarely move onto adjacent shallow flats. Even the hot-water discharge area doesn’t attract big blue cats, although it does draw one of the blue cat’s favorite baitfish, the skipjack herring. The discharge area is a prime spot to gather fresh herring for prime cutbait.
Areas A, B, and C illustrate a narrow river section about to widen and flatten for several miles before becoming another narrow section. Current increases in narrow river sections, creating prime territory for blue cats.
Area A — The head of a narrow river section before the river widens and flattens is a prime area for blue cats that may gradually (day by day) move up into current as they feed, but hesitate to move farther upriver into decreasing current. Using electronics, an angler might run upriver along the channel ledge, looking for nooks and debris that might harbor fish. A particularly good area is where the ledge begins to push away from the bank to form a big shallow flat.
Concrete barge tie-offs also gather debris. Be sure to check sections of ledge near the tie-offs. Jim Moyer often ties his boat to the back of a tied-off barge to fish the ledge below. Move quickly if a barge captain decides to move in another barge.
Area B — All of the ledge is potential holding area for blue cats. Obviously, try the ledge area near the final barge tie-off. Should be a big eddy here, too. Note also how the ledge pushes away from the bank near the beginning of the discharge area — good spot. Finally, notice how the river channel gradually deepens. The head of a deep channel area as it pushes into a shallower area may be a hot spot for big blues.
Area C — Note how the shallow flat bumps out below the discharge inlet — check this ledge area. Then note how the flat cuts back toward the bluff bank, creating another possible holding area. Be sure to run along the ledge near the bluff bank. Limestone outcroppings are particularly craggy and difficult to fish but often hold blue cats. Often, though, the ledges are so steep that baits must be set at the top or the base of the ledge.