Originally published in Procats Online Magazine
Settin' It Up
Once Jeff has picked his area by marking the right bottom contour near the thermocline and the right space between the fish and the bottom, he is ready to deploy the drift socks. Williams will usually only use on drift sock or "sea anchor" to set his drift at the right speed and path.
use two anchors out the side of the boat but Jeff prefers to drift with the socks either out the front or the back to get a more controlled drift. If the wind is moving at a fairly good clip, Jeff will fish from the front so the wind doesn't push his boat too fast. If the wind is fairly slow, he will fish from the back so the wind has more of a flat surface to push on, thus speeding up his drift. Jeff notes that he will catch more fish if he speeds up or slows down the drift when he needs to cover more or less water.
Also of note is that matching the speed of the boat to the activity level of the fish seems to work best on certain days. "You just have to fish and vary your drift speed till you start hookin' up with fish. I like to start with a certain drift speed and then go faster or slower from there."
If Jeff is catching fish fairly consistently he will leave the boat speed alone. If he goes very far without a hook-up and he is still marking fish on the graph, he will slow down or speed up if he thinks it is necessary. On windless days, Jeff will use his bow-mounted trolling motor to create a drift.
Jeff says that one of the most important parts of his fishing success is having fresh bait all day long. He motors to areas that hold shad such as bays, and cuts, and then moves slowly around till he locates schools of shad on his sonar unit. From the front of the boat, he throws a 16-foot diameter 1-inch mesh cast net and usually gets enough bait fairly quick. As soon as he nets the first few gizzard shad he tosses them into a top-quality aerated oval bait tank made by Grayline. After he has caught enough big shad he drains the water out of the tank then refills it.
"If I want the freshest bait possible I have to get the water changed. When shad get stressed they regurgitate and their stomach acids build up in the tank's water and burn their gills. By changing the water, you remove all that and the built-in tank filters will do the rest."
Williams uses either chunks or fillets depending on what works the best for that day. He makes sure to cut the chunks at an angle so they are streamlined enough not to spin much.
Ready to Go
We've got the right bait and figured out where to fish and set up the boat for the right drift by deploying the drift sock according to the power of the wind. Now its time to look at Jeff's drift rig set-up. Jeff has experimented with many different snagless sinker styles including bottom-bouncers, weighted welding rods, modified egg sinker rigs, pencil weights, and others but he has finally decided on one that works best for him. He ties a short piece of 20 pound monofilament onto a small snap swivel then threads on eight ? ounce egg sinkers onto the line and then fastens the last one to the line.
Well, there you have it folks. Jeff's simple yet effective summertime pattern he uses to catch blue cats on reservoirs can be used on lots of big lakes across the country. Get out there and drift, pay close attention to what's happening while you're on the water drifting and you'll be catching blues like he does in no time. Chances are if you spend the time on a lake that has some monster-sized blues, you may be surprised just how big a fish you can handle!
Copyright ? 2004-2005 Jeff Williams and Procats
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Jeff Williams runs a Truman Lake Hybrid Bass and Lake of the Ozarks Catfish Fishing Guide Service offering lodging and guided trips in Missouri. To book a trip, learn more tips, or find out how Capt. Jeff would fish your own local waters, call 1-866-HOOKSET or visit http://www.ozark-lodges-fishing-trips.com today!