Skip to main content

Double-Digit Delta Blues

Double-Digit Delta Blues

Heading south of I-10 and following Louisiana State Road 23 into the Mississippi Delta, most anglers are dreaming of redfish and speckled trout. These saltwater faves are certainly a fair assumption, but way downriver, anglers find an incredible opportunity to lock horns with giant blue catfish—like 50-pound-plus trophy caliber monsters—that out key bottom strongholds near this famous waterway’s southern terminus.

Sure, many areas farther north along the Mighty Mississippi may be better known for whopper blues, but you’ll find some absolute slobs parking their broad backsides nexts to rocks, pier rubble, log jams, sunken barges and anything that breaks the cur-rent and allows optimal feeding opportunities. Often holding within 50 yards of Delta boat launches and seawalls these whoppers are one of the river’s most underutilized fisheries.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Delta-Blue-Cats-1.jpg
Where the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico, and the final river miles leading up to that point offer a tremendous opportunity at trophy-caliber blue cats.

Chance Encounter

Capt. Ross Montet actually discovered this scenario by accident, but the Buras fishing guide has perfected a simple, yet effective method of consistently bending rods with these big blue beasts. Working out of Cajun Fishing Adventures, Montet said it all started with a trash run.

I was dumping a few baskets of fish carcasses from the cleaning table one evening and as they were drifting downriver, I started hearing something blowing up on the scraps,” Montet said. “At first, I couldn’t figure out what it was, but then I saw one come up; it was a 50-pound blue catfish."


//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Delta-Blue-Cats-Bait.jpg
Fish guts from nearby cleaning tables act as chum to large, hunting blue cats.

No exaggeration, I’ve watched Montet chum monster blues up to the surface where the jumbos would suck in a whole, head-on redfish or trout carcass like a bluegill slurping a Mayfly. During a past photo shoot, he and fellow guide Cody Obiol hauled in a pair that easily broke 50 pounds and one was pushing 70.


On this evening, the anglers were targeting particular fish they had marked earlier in the day with sonar. Big cats tend to stake out their belly-down spots, so anchoring up-current of the fish and drifting baits back to them worked like a charm.

Montet said blue cats love baitfish schools, so watch your bottom machine for balls of pogies or mullet. Also, Obiol occasionally find these whiskered predators patrolling the outside edges of current seams where the river leaks into the Delta marsh. Drifting cutbait through the eddies and into the still water often produces big bites.

For the river action, Montet said he plans his catfish missions based on seasonal water dynamics. When the Mississippi River is low, saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico pushes farther upstream and the catfish retreat northward. During spring’s highwater period, the current can be too strong to properly anchor and effectively present your baits.

"You want a certain amount of current to wash food down to the,” he said. “Catfish like an easy meal and don’t want to have to work too hard for it.”


Rigging Up

Big blues don’t play around, so Montet handles them with stout spinning or conventional outfits with 7- to 7 1/2-foot rods and 80- to 100-pound braided line. He finds that braid’s thinner diameter makes it less conspicuous, especially after sundown. A no-stretch line helps set the hook on longer presentations, while the braided line’s extreme sensitivity helps him detect light pick-ups.

Montet has caught big cats on Carolina rigs, fish-finders and knocker rigs, but he finds a modified drop-shot rig enables effective bottom presentations that keep his bait above potential entanglements. First, he secures a 6- to 8-ounce bell sinker to the line’s terminal end with a Palomar knot and then forms a dropper loop about 5 feet up the line. (Rig height depends on the type of bottom structure and where the fish are positioning.)

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Delta-Blue-Cat-Rig.jpg
The rigs need to be stout to handle battles with big fish, but also within reason for castability and a size that a big blue won’t swallow.

A 6/0-9/0 circle hook keeps the big fish latched and Montet uses a loop connection to allow himself rigging versatility. Pushing the loop through the hook eye, he’ll pass it over the entire hook, pull it snug against the line on the backside of the eye. Changing hooks is a simple matter of loosening the loop, but the pressure of a hooked fish keeps the connection secure during the fight.


Notably, those redfish and trout that attract the majority of Delta inshore attention actually play a role in the river’s blue cat fishery, as chumming with cleaning table scraps is a sure-fire way to make the jumbos show themselves. Just about any smelly morsel appeals to the cats’ nimble noses, but baiting your hook with a trout belly strip is money.

Montet prefers the belly because it’s the most substantial piece of meat left on a filleted carcass. With any piece of bait, he suggests keeping it to about 2 inches. This allows plenty of room for hook penetration, which prevents the fish from swallowing a bait and becoming gut-hooked.

Patience is key for the Delta blue cat game; you have to give the chum time to reach the fish and stimulate their feeding instinct. That being said, Montet’s not going to burn the clock waiting on a fish to make up its mind.

”If you can’t get a bite within 15 to 30 minutes, it’s time to leave,” he said. “Now, if you know there’s a fish there, maybe you saw him on you sonar, you might want to give it a little longer. They’ll likely turn on eventually.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Safely Transport Kayak, Canoe with Malone Auto Racks

Safely Transport Kayak, Canoe with Malone Auto Racks

Mike Carney highlights three products deigned to get you there and back; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

P-Line Copolymer Topwater Fishing Line

P-Line Copolymer Topwater Fishing Line

Get the inside info on the new topwater-specific fishing line; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

In-Fisherman Calendar Periods

In-Fisherman Calendar Periods

In-Fisherman staffers target all fish and key on the revolving season calendar periods to maximize the the likelihood of catching more and bigger fish.

VMC Crossover Pliers and Rings

VMC Crossover Pliers and Rings

Quick and easy Neko and whacky rigging; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural baits and commercial options.10 Best Carp Baits Available Today Carp

10 Best Carp Baits Available Today

Dan Johnson

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural...

Do pike under ice cover choose the same types of habitats they use in summer?Pike Movement and Habitat: Summer vs. Winter Pike & Muskie

Pike Movement and Habitat: Summer vs. Winter

Dr. Rob Nuemann

Do pike under ice cover choose the same types of habitats they use in summer?

Little is known about the effects of softbait ingestion on bass.Effects of Softbait Ingestion on Bass Bass

Effects of Softbait Ingestion on Bass

Gabe Gries - August 11, 2020

Little is known about the effects of softbait ingestion on bass.

Serve these walleye fish cakes with homemade blue cheese aioli or blue cheese salad dressing.Walleye Fish Cakes with Blue Cheese Aioli Recipe Fish Recipes

Walleye Fish Cakes with Blue Cheese Aioli Recipe

Chefs Jerry Swanson and Tommy Nuesse

Serve these walleye fish cakes with homemade blue cheese aioli or blue cheese salad dressing.

See More Trending Articles

More Catfish

For its relatively small size, the Red River of the North has legions of enormous channel catfish.Channel Cat Feeding Factors: Timing Peak Bites Catfish

Channel Cat Feeding Factors: Timing Peak Bites

Cory Schmidt

For its relatively small size, the Red River of the North has legions of enormous channel...

Spinning reels are simple, durable, and reliable.Spinning Reels for Catfish Catfish

Spinning Reels for Catfish

Dan Anderson - March 31, 2020

Spinning reels are simple, durable, and reliable.

There's advantages, and disadvantages to both.Braid vs. Mono for Catfish Catfish

Braid vs. Mono for Catfish

Steve Ryan - September 21, 2020

There's advantages, and disadvantages to both.

Milford, perhaps the most popular fishing lake in Kansas, offers a bounty of angling opportunities.Milford Blue Cats Catfish

Milford Blue Cats

Cory Schmidt - September 23, 2020

Milford, perhaps the most popular fishing lake in Kansas, offers a bounty of angling...

See More Catfish

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now