Blue Catfish - Fishing Techniques for Fall Transition

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Instructor: Scott Manning

Blue catfish behavior changes during the fall transition due to reduced light and cooling temperatures. Captain Scott Manning shares catfishing techniques, including structure, current, boat staging, baits, rigs, spread, and patience. Structural factors, current, and bait size are crucial for big catfish. Manning recommends using quality baits, rods, and rigs to increase knowledge and confidence during the fall transition.

Description / Review / Instructor


  • Biological Changes: Blue catfish undergo biological changes during the fall to winter transition, leading to increased feeding.
  • Food Availability: As water cools, baitfish start dying, resulting in less food availability for the blue catfish in winter.
  • Catfishing Techniques: Fall season offers an excellent opportunity to test catfishing techniques. 'In The Spread' and Captain Scott Manning offer a playbook to understand conditions and methods.
  • Finding Big Fish: Bigger catfish avoid strong currents. In moving water, they look for food, while in slack water they scatter around.
  • Structures and Habits: Blue catfish love structures like rock piles and river bends. Knowing where to start and using sound techniques are crucial.
  • Role of Current: Understanding the current's edges relative to structures is key, as it affects fish concentration.
  • Bait Importance: Fresh bait is crucial. The right size and proper hooking are critical components for success.
  • Bait Positioning: Considerations include how many baits to use, their dispersion, and the depth at which they are positioned.
  • Patience: A common mistake is not being patient in a spot. Like deer hunting, staying put increases chances of success.

Blue Catfish in Fall: The Ultimate Guide to Success

As the days grow shorter and the crisp air heralds the arrival of fall, a remarkable transformation occurs in the water below. The blue catfish, a majestic creature of our waterways, undergoes a significant biological shift. This metamorphosis from fall to winter ignites a metabolic change, compelling the catfish to feed voraciously.

Why the Feeding Frenzy?

The puzzle behind this increased appetite lies in the changing ecosystem. As the temperatures drop, many baitfish succumb to the cold, leading to a scarcity of food as winter approaches. This natural scarcity, combined with the diminishing daylight, sends a potent message to the blue catfish: it's time to feast. Such conditions make fall the prime time for anglers to hone their catfishing skills. In partnership with Captain Scott Manning, "In The Spread" presents a comprehensive video guide, providing insights into understanding these conditions, fish behaviors, and effective catfishing methods.

The Art of Catfishing: Not for the Faint-hearted

Catching blue catfish, especially the colossal ones, demands more finesse than one might assume. A critical task is to determine where these giants are congregating. These behemoths prefer areas with minimal current. In the Tennessee Valley's reservoir systems, the rivers and lakes enjoy the benefits of moving water. This water movement stirs and gathers both living and dead bait. As vast amounts of water pass through the dams, many baitfish are injured or perish, drifting downstream. Depending on electricity needs, water is either drawn in or expelled, sometimes simultaneously. This water movement is an angler's boon. In stagnant or slow-moving waters, blue catfish disperse in search of food. But as the current intensifies, they gather in specific zones for protection. Such zones, often bends or structures in rivers, become the catfish's dining rooms.

Structures: The Catfish's Lair

The Tennessee River system is replete with diverse structures. Knowing where to commence your fishing expedition and the techniques to employ is paramount. Rock formations, underwater ridges, and depressions offer sanctuary from the swift currents. To uncover these structures, one must be willing to invest time in exploring the river. River bends are ideal starting points, with bait being naturally funneled into these areas by the current. Navigational tools can help identify intriguing underwater landscapes. Once a potential hotspot is located, it's essential to gauge its vitality. These tools can provide all the information an angler needs.

Captain Scott Manning offers invaluable guidance on maneuvering river bends, studying the riverbed, and strategically positioning baits. Knowledge of the current's edge in relation to the structure is essential. Currents are the conveyor belts delivering food, and understanding their dynamics can make or break your fishing experience.

Bait Matters

Choosing the right bait is paramount. Freshness is key. Dispelling the myth of "stank bait", it's essential to remember that just as we prefer fresh food, so do catfish. Selecting the appropriate size and properly hooking the bait significantly influences your success rate. Captain Manning shares insights on the best baits, making the right choices, and determining the quantity required for a fishing session.

Positioning multiple baits across a wide area of the riverbed can be a game-changer. Even though catfish are in a feeding mode, predicting their last mealtime remains a challenge. Close bait placements can sometimes be the trick to attracting their attention. But remember, catfish aren't always at the bottom; they sometimes hover in the water column. Hence, bait depth variation is crucial. However, avoid overdoing it to prevent potential tangles when a fish is caught.

Patience is Key

One common pitfall anglers face is impatience. Drawing an analogy to deer hunting: if you're confident about a spot's potential, resist the urge to relocate frequently. Moving from one place to another reduces the time your baits are in the water, decreasing your chances. It's essential to trust your instincts and location, allowing ample time for the catfish to bite.

Harness the Knowledge

Leverage the insights from "In The Spread's" catfishing video during the fall transition. Being tactical about your approach, combined with Captain Scott Manning's techniques, will undoubtedly amplify your success rate, leading to more triumphant catches. Happy fishing!


What triggers increased feeding behavior in blue catfish during the fall to winter transition?
During the fall to winter transition, a metabolic switch in catfish is set off due to changes in daylight and water temperatures. This switch triggers increased feeding behavior in blue catfish.

Why is moving water beneficial for catfishing?
Moving water aggregates bait, both dead and alive. As large volumes of water flow through the dams, bait fish are killed and wounded, then pushed downstream. This triggers activity in the blue catfish.

What kind of structures do big catfish prefer?
Big blue catfish are drawn to structures such as rock piles, ledges, and bottom depressions. These structures provide shelter from the current.

How important is bait freshness for catfishing?
Fresh bait is crucial for catfishing. Just like humans prefer fresh food, catfish are drawn to good fresh baits.

What's a common mistake made by fishermen when targeting big blue catfish?
A common mistake is not being patient in a spot. Moving frequently from one spot to another reduces the chance of success. It's essential to have confidence in your spot and keep your baits in the water.

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Scott Manning

Scott Manning, a U.S. Military veteran, has become a master angler and steward of the waterways in East Tennessee. He specializes in capturing Monster Catfish, a species that thrives in the deep waters of the Tennessee River Monsters. Manning's company, Tennessee River Monsters, offers a unique perspective on the catfish fishery, highlighting the importance of understanding and sharing knowledge about the great outdoors.

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