It is not uncommon to hear anglers say that catfish are moving shallow in the spring in preparation for the spawn, but that’s really not what’s going on. Rather, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) says that catfish are moving towards the banks because that’s what all the other species are doing. Gizzard shad, threadfin shad, crappie, bream and more are up shallow because of a combination of water temperature and spawning activity (which are related), and the blue cats are just following the food! The blue catfish spawn won’t actually start until late May and June.
Overall Chris rates the Lake Monticello bite as fair to good right now, and he says that the most aggressive fish are in 20-40 feet of water. The average size fish being caught are 2-15 pounds, but there are also some bigger fish in the 20s and 30s on up biting. They were holding even shallower, but cool temperatures over the last week and predicted for the next few days have and will continue to keep them deeper, and they may pull out beyond 40 feet. Most recently morning water temperatures were in the mid-60s.
The best pattern continues to be fishing with small pieces of cut white perch, gizzard shad or herring, as in the spring lots of fish are feeding on mussels and they like bait that “matches the hatch.” Humps, points and mussel beds are all holding fish.