How to Find Catfish in Winter - Best Fishing Tips to Catch More Catfish


hey guys and welcome to another episode

of the catfish and carp YouTube channel

me and my little boy Nate here are gonna

talk to you about how to find catfish in

the winter time now I thought I could do

this maybe sit in my living room or

garage but wouldn't it be more fun to

talk to you about these tips while I

actually try them out so here we are in

the winter time here in Virginia

we're gonna go catfishing and I'm gonna

talk you through exactly how you find

catfish in the winter time and as I talk

about it I'm gonna show you examples of

what I'm talking about all right well

listen guys you may have noticed that

I'm sitting on a very nice little boat

with about a two thousand dollar side

imaging sonar unit and you may be

thinking to yourself yeah these are

really great tips if you've got a boat

and fish sonar but I don't so what good

is it to me listen all of these tips I'm

going to give you do the same whether

your boat fishing or bank fishing

whether you gots owner or not because

frankly let's face it if you can't catch

fish a boat ain't gonna help you and

this showing are doesn't actually tell

you where to look for fish all it does

is tell you when you found the fish okay

you still have to figure out where to

look and so what I'm gonna do is talk to

you about how to find fish in rivers and

lakes in the wintertime okay alright

guys let me tell you a little bit about

our weather patterns right now the water

temperature is right at 40 degrees and

there's little skiffs of ice here and

there on the surface of the lake I want

we had a decent sheet of ice on the lake

earlier this week it was highs in the

20s and low 30s earlier this week but

today it's about low 50s right now so

we've had this sudden spike up in

temperature it's melted a lot of the ice

and I think it's gonna make for some

good fishing when you're fishing for

catfish in the wintertime the

temperature of the water and the

relative temperature of the air is

everything it affects the cat fish's

behavior more than any other factors

knowing and understanding where the

warmest water is is key the catfish are

desperately trying to stay warm even if

it's just a degree or two difference it


a big deal so if you can understand

where the warmest places are you will

understand where the catfish are going

to be and how they're going to behave

this holds true in both lakes and in

rivers what you tend to find is that the

catfish are spread out all over the

reservoir or the river or the lake and

they're pretty evenly dispersed in the

summertime but once the a water

temperature drops below around 60

degrees or so

the catfish start congregating in the

main bodies of the river and then deeper

parts of the lake there's these

wintering grounds where they like to

hang out over the winter time and the

fish collecting these wintering holes in

great concentrations flathead catfish

tend to shut down the most during the

wintertime and they actually enter into

a semi hibernative state when it's

really cold they'll pile up in these

tight clusters of fish and they'll just

bury in the mud or lay on the bottom and

just kind of go to sleep but they're not

completely hibernating they will come

out and feed from time to time if you

drop something right in front of their

face you can tempt them into biting and

if the water temperature goes up a

little bit they'll come out of their

slumber and go and hunt a little bit

this is true even in really cold places

where there's ice on the lake some of

the really big flat heads have been

caught ice fishing before but of the

major species of catfish they are

probably the least active and the

hardest to catch in the winter time blue

catfish are on the other end of the

spectrum some people say that the best

blue catfishing is in the wintertime

january/february big trophy blue catfish

are fairly active in the wintertime and

they stay pretty active in the winter

time channel catfish are somewhere

in-between and bull heads tend to be

fairly active in the winter time I've

caught a lot of bull heads through the

ice ice fishing but all of these fish

have their wintering holes okay and

finding out where these wintering holes

is really important because all of their

behavior in the winter time tends to be

relative to these wintering holes these

Wittering holes tend to be deeper and

they tend to be near the

mouths of rivers that are dumping into

either the river or the lake they tend

to be a in and the 20 feet or more of

water and they tend to be in places that

the temperature stays pretty consistent

throughout the wintertime occasionally

you'll find wintering holes that are

man-made like places where power plants

dump warm water into a river or lake or

are places where there's a warm water

spring or there's a sewer treatment

plant and dumps warm water even places

like where you have a creek or a river

that goes through cities and it's just

now naturally warmer than an other

creeks or rivers those sort of manmade

warm water features can attract fish and

become wintering holes a lot of

reservoirs you'll have these fingers

going out where all these little fingers

of the reservoir are and where are those

fingers congregate right at the mouths

of those fingers tends to be good places

to look for these wintering holes

they're really easy to find with if you

have fish finders because they'll be

piles of fish in the bottom of these

holes and it's hard to miss 30-40

catfish all in one small spot it's not

just catfish that follow these patterns

a lot of fish do this the shad generally

do it the carp tend to do it a lot of

the pan fish as well if you look here

here we are in one of the fingers of a

reservoir 38 degrees and look at it

there is absolutely nothing on the

fishfinder in the summertime this place

is alive with fish bluegill shad crappie

bass you know catfish carp tons of fish

are in this location normally when the

water temperature is over 55 60 degrees

38 degrees and for the next 30 minutes

I'm gonna drive over a barren wasteland

once you find good wintering holes

that's not enough to catch fish because

the fish are constantly moving in and

out of these wintering holes and it all

has to do with the relative temperature

of the air versus the water when the air

temperature is much lower than the water

temperature the catfish in the carp and

all the other fish they try to get down

deep in the deepest part of those

wintering holes they want to get as far


from that cold air as possible when the

relative air temperature is higher than

the water then the fish move out of the

deep parts of the holes and they want to

go to the shallow spots near their

wintering holes now it's important to

understand where the wintering holes are

because the fish aren't going to travel

miles to get to someplace warm when the

air temperature pops up for half a day

or two or three days they're going to

find someplace warm that's close to the

wintering hole if it's really cold

they're gonna go to the deepest spot

that's near the winning hole and if it's

really warm out they're gonna go to the

shallow spot that's near the wintering

hole all right guys let me give you a

practical example of how to use this

information right here is a known

wintering hole you can see how steep the

bank is there's a little bit of a cliff

right over there it's very steep that

steepness continues down to about 25

feet whenever you're trying to find a

deep spot look at the shore when the

shore is steep the bank may often leads

to deep water and we can tell from the

fish finder that's exactly right there's

about 25 feet of water here in this

tight little hole it's the deepest spot

around for about a quarter mile each


so it makes it unique it's not just deep

but it's uniquely deep okay and that

makes it a really good wintering hole

but right underneath the boat where I am

I'm sitting on about seven feet of water

okay there's a nice big flat wide-open

shallow right here and there's one right

over there so we've got shallow water

near some deep water and because the

water temperature R is 15 degrees lower

than the air temperature today the fish

are gonna be shallow they're gonna try

to take advantage of that warm air R and

get shallower so what I'm gonna do is

I'm gonna cruise around this hole and

see if my theory is Right see if the

fish are in the shallows they should be

on the leash a low side of the ledge

leading to the deep hole I'm gonna head

right towards those steep banks we're

gonna see what

okay right now we're about six feet all

right it's starting to drop

there we go there's

all right there there's a fish there's a

fish there's a fish there's a fish look

they're right on the side of the slope

right about 10 15 feet oh there's some

shad right in there and see there's some

fish right up in there looks like looks

like a big school of shad and there's

some catfish eating on the school of

shad down there


alright let's see what's on the other

side of the hole okay so now we're have

about 22 feet oh there's the slope and

there's some fish laying right on the


not too many up in the shallows well

guys that was a great example of how

Theory doesn't always mesh 100% with

real life but it still kind of proves

the point right I expected the fish to

be hugging the the sides up near the of

the hole near the top the fish were

mostly on the sides but they're about

two-thirds the way down okay and there

was quite a bit of action going on in

the dead center bottom of the hole which

I wouldn't have expected with this warm

weather these are general patterns

they're not a hundred percent and you

know sometimes we're wrong but what it

did show you is there it was a butt ton

of fish in that hole now the question is

what type of fish are they because lots

of fish follow these winter patterns so

what I'm going to do is I'm going to

bust out my cast net and we're gonna go

chuck them on top of some of those

bigger signals and see what's down there

all right let's do it

overboard but you saw that it was a

massive largemouth bass and two big carp

all wintering in the same hole they're

not here for the food they're here

because of the temperature man it's all

about temperature in the winter time

let's get this guy back in well that was

pretty cool those are two nice carp in a

big bass now the carp and the bass

aren't all the same spot because they're

eating the same things no they're there

because the water temperature

but I think there's some more catfish in

that spot not just carp and bass so I'm

gonna go throw my cast net on that

school of shad I saw on the sonar

earlier and then we're gonna see if we

can't pull some catfish out of this hole

as well and see if that doesn't prove my

point that a lot of different species of

fish all follow this same general

pattern let's see what we got

holy mackerel look at that there's

plenty of shad down here let's let some

of them go we don't need all that shed


take it squeeze them through the net

okay pull the net through and put them

in the bucket oh look at you guys slimy

fish hands yes that means you're a

fisherman yeah well we've pulled carp

largemouth bass and shad out of the same

wintering hole we're gonna go ahead and

try to anchor up right on the side of

the hole where we have access to cast to

the side and the middle and we're gonna

see if we can tap ulsan catfish out -

there's a spot I want to hit yeah that's

what I want right there all right you

got the anchor bud let me get it closed

here can you push it over okay can you

push it so I found kind of a

crescent-shaped bit of water I want to

fish right in there and what it is I

come around and I drop my anchor right

on the edge of it so I didn't quite drop

the anchor on the fish then I back up

the boat I dropped the second anchor off

the back and then I tighten up both

ropes like a hammock and that'll put me

in great position to bomb rods all over

that spot at different depths what's the

matter Nate oh you can't

in the summertime I like to use live

shad because there's a lot of flat heads

out and about but the flat heads kind of

shut down in the winter time and they're

hard to catch and the blue cats and the

channel cats tend to work a little bit

better on cut bait and the cut bait goes

further so are you cut bait in the

winter time mostly all right so I'm just

taking half a shad and I'm hooking the

hook through the back which is the

toughest part and making sure there's no

scales on the hook point I'm using 10

OTT and a taut circle hooks and I've got

three ounce disc seekers on sliders well

I've just had time enough to bait and

cast out all my rods and we've already

had one fish on got away felt like a

little channel catfish and it's starting

to rain on us which the only thing

better than fishing in the cold in the

winter time is doing it in the rain so

we'll see what happens are you throwing

my bait overboard just leave - please do

please don't throw any more over well we

got some chumming going on over there

well I just looked at the radar and

we've got a bit of a rainstorm coming so

I think I'm gonna pop up the bimini top

but this warm rain can do really great

things to the fishing nothing will raise

the water temperature faster than warm

rain and that's exactly what we got it

supposed to be 55 degrees is when the

snow when the storm passes so the water

temperature here is like 38 so that's a

big difference that rains going to

really up the temperature and it's gonna

up to temperature more in the small

creeks and rivers and storm drains and

that sort of thing which a bigger

percentage of their flow is going to be

made up of rainwater so what I need to

find when you're in the winter time and

you have one of these warm rain storms

come through is fish the mouth of creeks

and rivers if you can find a winner in

hole that's near one of those features

that's gonna be a great spot to look

one of the keys to success in the

wintertime is staying mobile if you're

not catching fish move and the reason

for this is simple catfish are much more

stationary in the wintertime they don't

move around as much so sitting there and

waiting for a fish to come to you is a

bad strategy in the winter time most the

time so what I do is I find a spot like

this where I think it's good I'll catch

my bait out and if I don't get a bite in

15 minutes I'll move and I might move

the whole boat or I might pick up my

rods and recast them but I'm moving

something because I'm not just gonna sit

and wait for the catfish to come to me

and if they haven't bent in 15 minutes

it means I'm not putting my bait on top

of catfish well so far I've had two good

bites I had a fish that was on that

popped off here and we had a pretty good

bite there but let's give this a little

bit longer and see if we can't reel

something in look there's one right

there right there in the corner is

biting see him it's just rods just going

deep deep deep yeah I'm getting real let

me show you see this right here see all

that belly that's cuz he's way down

buried in the mud

all right neat you want to throw them

back in okay one two three yeah he goes

well we've been here about five minutes

we've had about three bites and one fish

in the boat

that's pretty typical winter fishing

it's you know can be just amazing I

catch more catfish in the winter time

that I do in the summertime just the

sheer numbers of them because they're

concentrated you know this is a massive

body of water and all the fish are

huddled in a handful of locations so

when you're on it's just on it man it's

just incredible numbers you can catch

out of a single hole and if it you're

not in the right spot doesn't matter

what you do you just won't catch diddly

squat so that's why it's important to

stay mobile because if you're not

catching stuff you're in the wrong place

there's a nice hit


that's the devil look at that no that

was a two very respectable channel

catfish good job buddy

yeah there's teeth in there

that's about an eight pound channel

catfish right there we got two of them

oh it's a heavy one here we go

maybe a hair smaller maybe a seven

pounder here we go see Nathan what you

want to do is you want to wait till the

rod tip goes down and stays down for two

or three seconds doesn't really matter

how far it goes down just that it stays

down for two three seconds then you want

to reel it up in the rod holder until it

loads up and then fight the fish I've

caught more forty and fifty pounders in

the dead of winter then I can keep track

of it's a great way to catch a lot of

fish and when I go channel catfish

fishing in the winter time not uncommon

to put up 92 100 pounds of fish a day Oh

more free

there we go greedy little channel

catfish all covered in mud another

beautiful channel catfish hmm not sure

why all my pizza always tastes like shad

maybe I should wash my hands more no

obviously having a boat helps that's why

I bought one but if you're a bank

fisherman don't be discouraged I mean

there's still lots of great places where

you can access these wintering fishing

holes from the bank

look right there that shoreline that

that person's dock over there that's all

easy casting distance to this same

wintering hole okay

and there's plenty of places where you

can find castable access to the deep

water where the fish are wintering it's

just a little bit harder than if you

have a boat having fun there Nate

when you're trying to master the art of

finding fish especially in the winter

time practice in small ponds and small

lakes because it's just so much easier

to find the fish they're on big huge

lakes and bodies of water you can spend

hours looking for fish even if you know

what you're doing on a small lake

there's only so many places they can

hide and you can reach almost all of it

from the shore so you can sit there and

in one day by just popping spot after

spot in quick succession you can cover

the whole body of water and really

figure out what's going on very quickly

it's a lot easier to master a small body

of water and once you're comfortable

understanding how the fish are affected

by the different weather patterns and

temperatures you can take that knowledge

and apply it to a bigger body of water

with a lot more confidence


that is a nice channel catfish just

about ten and a half pounds ten and a

half pound channel catfish what a

beautiful fish chewed up my thumb you

know the principles I'm explaining to

you apply to rivers as well as lakes

there's these general wintering holes

there's these spots often with current

brakes that are very popular with the

fish in the wintertime the fish tend to

congregate there and the fish will move

in and out of those wintering holes

depending on the weather conditions some

really great places to catch blue

catfish is in the dead of winter on a

sunny nice day you go and find some

shallow flats you know four to six feet

deep right next to one of these big

wintering holes you can just absolutely

crush it look at this the hook went

through the fish's lip and into the tree

limb how crazy is that


another chunky channel this one's just

as big as the last one I can't even get

my hands completely around that that is

a another ten plus pound channel catfish

oh what a beast

another chunky healthy channel cat look

with your finger right there it's heard

you it's just rough see a lot of people

ask me what time of day they should go

fishing for catfish and I find that in

the summertime night time you know

sunset sunrise its best time by far to

catch catfish and the winter time middle

of the day seems to be a bit better and

it's all about temperature when the

water is too hot the fish are more

active when it's cool when the water is

too cold the fish are more active when

it's warm

so it's all about finding that ideal

temperature well thanks for watching we

hope you enjoyed this video and learned

a few tips if you'd like to see more

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