When most people think of fishing for catfish, they don't think about doing it in the winter time. There is a misconception that catfish only bite during the warmer months. This is true for some species but other species are easier to catch in the winter. It is even easier to catch larger fish during these seasons.
The Flathead catfish almost completely stops feeding during the winter time. It is very hard to catch Flathead catfish after October until the water begins to warm up again the following year. On the other hand, Blue Catfish continue feeding all year long. There is a cycle that happens each year that is known as Shad kill. This cycle is the most important factor for huge fall and winter Blue Catfish.
Shad are a type of small to medium sized baitfish. Shad are the primary food source in most lakes and rivers for catfish. Shad are extremely sensitive and a large portion of them die during the winter. Fisherman called this the Shad kill. During the Shad kill the Blue Catfish will gorge themselves on Shad. The dying Shad will fall to the bottom of the lake or river and drift into the deepest holes. The Blue Catfish knows that this is an easy place to find a meal so they gather in these holes and wait for food to come by.
You can catch these fish easily by simply following the natural cycle for these fish. First catch or buy some fresh Shad. Most gas stations near big lakes or rivers will sell frozen Shad. You should use these as a last resort. Most people catch their own Shad using a cast net. During the winter it can be tough to catch the Shad. Not only is the water extremely cold, but the Shad are thinner in numbers because of the Shad kill. They also go deeper in the winter. Either catch Shad before the winter, purchase some from the store or tough it out and get fresh Shad in a net.
Next use a map or sonar to locate where deep holes might be. Try to find where the main creek channel runs through a lake. The main creek channel is where the original creek or river ran through. After a dam is built, the water rises around and creates a lake. The channel will generally be the deepest area in the lake. Blue Catfish like to wait in this channel for the dead Shad to fall into. Locate these channels and fish near them.
You can use whole Shad or cut pieces. Generally the larger the bait the larger the fish you are going to attract. You can catch small fish or large bait or large fish on small bait. Try to use Shad or pieces of Shad that are 3 to 6 inches long. This seems to be the best size for catching Blue Catfish.