Waiting… Waiting…bang! The bobber goes soaring in the air, followed by you frantically running for your pole, which is about to go flying into the lake from a huge catfish. Ahhh the joys of fishing and as a lake guide at Santa Ana River Lakes and Corona Lake, I get the privilege of showing people how to have such experiences. Being a part of Team LGE, the official team of “The Big Fish Lakes”, is all about helping others catch more and bigger fish. Nothing is better than giving some tips and tricks with an angler who is having a hard time catching fish one week and then the next week they are holding up a limit of big quality catfish with the grin of a child.
The question I get the most is what kind of bait is the best for catfish at Santa Ana River Lakes and Corona Lake? Well, that’s very tough to answer because the truth is, I use a variety of baits which I am constantly rotating to keep up with the constant change of the cat’s preferences. Sure, I have favorites like the fresh shrimp and marshmallow combo but I also use night crawlers and marshmallows, fresh mackerel, mill-worm and marshmallows or not to mention the scarcely known trout guts. These are just the top baits I prefer to use at SARL and Corona Lake.
First off, what pound test do I use? I prefer to use 4 pound to 6 pound test on shore or float tube or 10 pound test when fishing the tree line at Corona Lake. Why would I use heavier line than trout? Well, catfish are not as “line shy” as trout. Meaning, the catfish don’t swim away when they see your line in the water and that they don’t usually spit your bait out when they feel the weight of the sinker you are using.
Another question I am usually asked is, “why do you use marshmallows?”. Let’s break down the purpose of marshmallows when it comes to catfishing. Marshmallows are used to float whatever bait you are using off the bottom. “Why would I need to float my bait off the bottom of the lake, I thought catfish were bottom feeders?” is another common question asked after being told to use marshmallows. So, yes catfish do usually feed off the bottom but they can also be suspended higher in the water column. I will usually have my leader (the line from your weight to the hook) about 6 inches to a foot when fishing for catfish at SARL or Corona Lake.
Let’s talk about the night crawler and marshmallow combo. I love using this combo and it is one of my go to baits. I prefer to use 2 marshmallows and half a night crawler. I will string the marshmallows on the hook and push them up the line to get them out of the way for when I put my NC on. Then, I use half a crawler and feed the crawler over the hook like I’m putting a sock on a foot (the sock is the crawler and foot is the hook). Once the hook has his “crawler sock” on, I push the marshmallows down to the crawler, usually covering the eye of the hook. Some people prefer to use a worm inflator instead of marshmallows but to each their own. Now, go drown some worms!
Shrimp and marshmallows is great when you want to use some of that natural scent the cat’s go crazy for. When I use this bait I use fresh shrimp, the ones with the heads on. The fresh ones are the best but I have also used the frozen ones as well. I like to go to my local store and go straight to the butcher and ask if they have any old shrimp that have expired. Once the weird look they give you pass’ and you explain you’re using it for fishing, you might be surprised to see what they might have. I prefer to use half a shrimp and 2 marshmallows. String the mallows on the line as before with the night crawler and peel half a shrimp and put it on the hook length wise. Before casting, I double check to make sure the mallows are enough to float the shrimp. If they aren’t I put another mallow on the hook.
Being a lake guide, tournament director and team captain of Team LGE wouldn’t be as sweet if it wasn’t for “The BIG Fish Lakes” and their continued efforts to provide monster fish.
May your rods stay bent and your lines stay tight
Lake Guide Eddie Captain Team LGE Tournament Director