One target that can be depended on to bite right through the winter months is catfish, including those monster blue catfish found throughout our region. You’ll catch them by putting cut fish, chicken breast, or other meaty morsels dead on the bottom, but to make it more interesting try fishing live minnow under a float far up a Bay tributary. That way not only will you catch plenty of catfish, you’ll often be treated to the tug of species like bass, crappie, perch, and pickerel.

catfish caught on minnow
Catfish like this can be found throughout most Chesapeake tributaries.
  1. Tie a large shad dart, small bucktail, or marabou jig in the 1/8th ounce range on the end of your line. Then dress it with a lip-hooked bull minnow.
  2. When fishing from a boat or pier, drop it straight down until it hits bottom. Then lift your rod tip three or four inches, and grab the line right above the water.
  3. Clip on your bobber at that exact spot on the line, so your float keeps the bait just a few inches off bottom.
  4. Cast your line out, or if there’s too much line now under the bobber to cast, simply let it drift away in the wind and current.
  5. If you’re fishing from shore, use a quill bobber and in water deeper than four or five feet, a slip-bobber (so you can still cast without having too much line under the float). Cast the rig out multiple times as you increase the depth the bait’s set at each time. When the quill lays sideways on the water’s surface, you know the bait’s on bottom. Then reel in, and re-set the bait’s depth to just a few inches less.