Kansas City Catter Relies On Driftmaster For Battling Monster Catfish

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew Carnes of Kansas City, MO has been fishing for catfish in the Kansas and Missouri Rivers since he was 15 years old. Over the last 20 years he has seen the rise in popularity of cat fishing across the country yet still believes that his home waters are some of the most overlooked in the country. As an officer of the Kansas City Catfish tournament club, Carnes and his fishing partner Randy Morgan have caught hundreds of double armload catfish from the local rivers. They claim they wouldn’t launch a boat into these waters if it wasn’t equipped with Driftmaster rod holders.

Question: Andrew, tell us about the Kansas and Missouri Rivers for cat fishing. Are they really that good?

Carnes: There are a bunch of Kansas lakes that feed the Kansas River which make it a very fertile fishery. The location we fish is the last 18 miles of the Kansas behind a low water diversion dam. This slows the current down from about 3-5 mph in the Missouri River compared to about 1 mph in the Kansas River. This slower water attracts a lot of baitfish into the Kansas and a lot of flathead catfish. Just beyond Kaw Point, at the junction of the two rivers, the Missouri River holds a lot of big blue catfish.

Question: What size catfish do you expect to catch in these two rivers?

Carnes: I would guess the average sized flathead that I catch in the Kansas is over 40 pounds. Randy and I have caught a bunch of flatheads that went over 50 pounds. Over in the Missouri, we see more blues and the average blue there is probably over 20 pounds, but there are some individual fish that weight a lot more than that. There are a lot of anglers who target blues in the Missouri and really overlook the flatheads in the Kansas River.

Question: How do you set up to catch these trophy catfish?

Carnes: Because this area is located in the heart of Kansas City, there are a lot of bridges that cross the Kansas River and these are some great places to catch big flatheads. If we’re bridge fishing, we’ll anchor above the bridge near the shore and cast live baits back to the bridge pilings. The pilings trap a lot of logjams and that’s where the flatheads lurk.

We target wing dams and riprap banks on the Missouri River for blue catfish Again we’ll anchor up current of the structure and fan cast lines across the back of the boat.

Question: What size tackle do you have to use for these fish?

Carnes: Our rods are 7 ½ foot Catfish Safari River rods paired with either Garcia 7000 or Shimano Calcutta bait cast reels. These are spooled with Power Pro Spectra Braid. We fish mostly whole live baits like mooneyes or shad or cut baits like skipjack herring. Since our club rules only allow 3 rods per angler, we use 6 rods at a time and place each one in a Driftmaster rodholder after the line is cast out. I like either the Flatliner or the Duo rod holder.

Question: Catfisherman are an ingenious bunch. I see plenty of homemade rod holder setups on your boats and even several other commercial makes on the market. What makes Driftmaster so important to you as a tournament champion?

Carnes: I see a lot of guys come into this sport and they try to cut corners by either making their own rod holders or using inferior products. The ones that learn how to catch the big cats soon learn that you have to have a simple design and reliably strong rod holder or you’ll end us losing big fish.

Question: What’s the biggest catfish you’ve had on?

Carnes: My biggest flathead weighed 66 pounds and my biggest blue catfish was a 82 pounder I caught in the Missouri River. Both of these were on Driftmasters. But the best test of the strength of the Driftmaster came on a week-end trip that Randy and I took to Wheeler Lake, Alabama last year.

Question: Can you tell us what happened?

Carnes: We went down in late November because our waters had already turned cold. Wheeler has a lot of favorable regulations that help grow big cats but we were new to the lake so we started out drifting—looking for fish. Well, the side scan graph started showing some really big arches and I looked over at Randy and said “Get ready I think we’ve found something”. About that time one of his rods bent over double and he had a good one on. He told me to watch for a double hookup and about the time he said that, one of my rods bent over. It took us 10 to 15 minutes each to get our fish in and while we were both hooked up, a third rod went down and there was nothing we could do with it. Randy’s cat weighed 62 pounds and my fish weighed just over 68 pounds. Believe it or not we even got the third fish in that stayed locked down in the Driftmaster rod holder for a good 15 minutes till we could get the other two fish boated. That third fish weighed 63 pounds! I have never seen a Driftmaster rod holder that a fish could break and believe me, that 63 pound blue catfish tried as hard as it could. 

For more information about the Kansas City Catfish club, visit their website at www.kccatfish.com

Veteran tournament catfisherman Andrew Carnes believes that his home waters of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers are some of the most underrated catfish locations in the country.
Andrew Carnes' fishing partner Randy Turner displays a double armload blue catfish from the Missouri River.
Carnes believes that once novice catfishermen learn how to catch monster catfish like this one, they recognize the benefits of using Driftmaster rod holders.
The 1/2 inch Flatliner and Duo rod holders are simplistic in their design, yet offer unmatched strength and reliability.
A week-end in Alabama showed the Catfish team of Andrew Carnes and Randy Turner just how dependaple their Driftmaster rod holders are. The pair landed three catfish weighing a total of over 190 pounds at the same time.

Big Fish On! Striped bass guide Capt. Mike Maddalena isn’t backing down when it comes to fighting one of Lanier’s trophy striped bass.
“Mike Madd” chooses Driftmaster rod holders because of their durability and strength.
Multiple rod trolling tactics are best suited for catching Lanier’s hefty striped bass. That means rods must be securely held in a rod holder in order to catch fish.
Trolling an umbrella rig is a great way to trigger strikes from striped bass that are not actively feeding
This Lanier monster picked a fight with Capt. Mike Maddalena and lost, but he’ll be back to try it again some day.
Big Fish On! Guide Mike Maddalena – No Room For Wimpy Rod Holders On My Boat

Editor’s Note: The words “small, frail, and unreliable” don’t sit well with Lake Lanier, Georgia striped bass guide Capt. Mike Maddalena. “Mike Madd”, as he is affectionately known for his quick wit and abundant laughter, specializes in trophy striped bass fishing and catching numbers of fish for his clients. We caught up with “Mike Madd” and asked him to give us the rundown on striper fishing Lanier’s deep, clear waters and why he chooses to use only Driftmaster rod holders.

Question: Mike, can you tell us about Lake Lanier and what the seasonal patterns are like for catching striped bass from it?

Maddalena: Lanier is a beautiful, deep clear lake of about 38,000 acres. It’s located within minutes of metropolitan Atlanta but is still far enough away to preserve it’s beauty. It’s also a great striped bass fishing lake.

Starting in the winter, I’ll take clients out striped bass fishing using small live bait trolled behind the boat with an electric motor. I use planer boards and free lines to spread out up to 8 baits fished at the same time. March through May is big fish time at Lanier and I use the same tactics but upscale the size of my baits, sometimes using shad that weight over a pound each. From May to September the summer pattern begins and I’ll spend the early morning hours fishing live bait straight down on down rods – a Carolina rig that’s suspended from a rod holder. I fish up to 6 rods at a time while down rodding. Later in the day we might change over to trolling umbrella rigs. This is a heavy metal trolling rig that looks like a child’s mobile trolled through the water up to 3 miles per hour. They are made here in Georgia by Captain Mack Farr, another Lanier striped bass guide. Trolling umbrellas is a great way to trigger striped bass into biting when they aren’t actively feeding. The fall pattern slows down a bit, we fish more up the lake using a combination of down rods or umbrella rigs until November when we start the winter pattern all over again.

Question: So just about all of your striper fishing involves multiple rods set up in rod holders?

Maddalena: That’s right. I have a total of 20 Driftmaster rod holders attached to my 24 foot Carolina Skiff center console boat. Seventeen ½” Duo Pros and three ½ “ Trollers for my outside planer board rods.

Question: Why do you choose Driftmaster over other makes of rod holders?

Maddalena: Without a doubt, it’s strength and reliability. Before I started using Driftmasters, I’ve had other rod holders to fail. During the spring we may hook into a 30 to 40 pound striper. At other times I may get an umbrella rig hung up going 3 miles an hour. That’s some pretty tough abuse to put on a rod holder but you’re just not going to get a Driftmaster ½ inch Duo Pro to fail. I’ve set the boat up with left and right hand threaded rod holders on either side of the boat so they just lock down tighter the more you pull and I think you’d tear the transom out of the boat before you could break one of them.

Question: How are you using the umbrella rigs on Lanier this time of year?

Maddalena: Right now we’re clipping points. That means we pull up to three rigs at one time and keep them fairly close to the boat – between 45 and 60 feet so they don’t drag the bottom. I only want them to go about 10 – 15 feet deep while we work long points that jut out into 30 feet of water. We hit one point, reel them back up, and move on to the next one. It’s a run-and-gun tactic.

Question: On a good day of fishing down rods and then pulling umbrella rigs, what could someone expect to catch during a trip with you?

Maddalena: On a good day, we’ll catch 12 to 15 stripers that will weigh anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds each. Of course, this is Lake Lanier so you can never rule out that surprise big fish that shows up wanting to get into a fight. That’s why I’m glad all my rods are secured in Driftmaster rod holders.

To arrange a guided striped bass fishing trip with Big Fish On! Guide Mike Maddalena, give him a call at 770-598-5195 or check out his website at www.bigfishonguide.com.

To view the rod holders that Capt Mike Maddalena uses on his boat, click on the “Rod Holders” button on the right side of our home page or visit your local Driftmaster dealer.

Winter Catfish Are Red Hot

Editor’s Note – Fishing guide Spencer Edmonds has been fishing the famous waters of South Carolina’s Santee-Cooper Lakes for longer than he can remember. Based in Eutawville, SC, Edmonds splits his guide trips between catfish, crappie, bream, and striped bass. This month, the guide reports that the colder the water and weather gets at Santee, the hotter the bite for trophy blue catfish gets. Landing a 30 pound plus catfish is not for the weak at heart or anyone with less than Driftmaster rod holders on their boats.

Question: Spencer, why is it that the winter time bite for blue catfish on the Santee-Cooper lakes is so good this time of year?

Edmonds: When the water temperature starts to get down into the 40’s, we start getting baitfish kills. Big schools of threadfin shad get too cold and a lot of them die-off. Catfish will follow those big schools of baitfish and pick them off as they get weak and die. We just started having a few baitfish kills a few weeks ago and it really turned the catfish bite on.

Question: What is the best way to fish for catfish during the cold weather?

Edmonds: It depends on if you’re fishing the upper or lower lake. On the upper lake – Marion, I like to go out on the main lake an do what we call stump jumping. I tie up to a standing tree that’s located next to a good creek channel or ditch and fan cast cut baits out around the boat. If I’m fishing the lower lake – Moultrie, then I’d rather start on the upwind side of the lake and let the wind push me across while I drift cut baits across the bottom. The bait and fish are hanging around deep drop offs, so I might start drifting in 50 feet of water and let the wind push me up on a 30 foot ledge. Regardless of which lake or how you fish it, you want to make sure you have plenty of baitfish in the area. You can tell this right away because you’ll see birds, mostly loons, diving down into the fish. If there’s loons, there’s baitfish, and that means there will be catfish nearby.

Question: What size tackle do you use and how do you rig for catfish?

Edmonds: I’ll use heavy bait casting rods matched with high capacity bait casting reels. I’ve started using 80 pound braid on almost all my reels. If I’m stump jumping, I’ll use a flatline Carolina rig with a 1 ½ oz egg sinker and a 5/0 circle hook. I bait these with 2 -3 fresh caught threadfin shad or one large butterflied shad. For drifting, I use a drift rig that has a 1 1/4 oz home-made slinky weight so it will pull across the bottom without hanging up. I put a small crappie float on the leader so the bait will ride up off the bottom where the catfish have no trouble finding it. Baits are the same, either a couple of whole shad or one cut open.

Question: Both of these tactics center on fishing with Driftmaster rod holders. How long have you been using Driftmaster and what’s so good about them?

Edmonds: I’ve been using Driftmaster ever since I started guiding, about 14 years ago. They have held up better then any other piece of gear I’ve ever used. They last forever and still look new.

My favorite model is the Duo rod holder. It holds the rod in one of two positions and is perfect for how I fish. The rod lays flat when I’m down rodding or flat lining and it sticks up 30 degrees for when I’m drifting. Let me tell you, I’ve caught some good fish over the years with those rod holders.

Question: What’s the biggest catfish you’ve caught while fishing with Driftmaster?

Edmonds: My biggest blue catfish to date is a 56 pounder that was caught a few years ago. I’ve also had a 54 pound flathead caught from my boat. It hit a down rod that was sitting in a Driftmaster rod holder and it hung on there for awhile before we could even wrestle the rod out of the holder.

To find out which of the Driftmaster line of rod holders and fishing accessories will work best for you, visit our website at www.driftmaster.com.

To book a fishing trip with Spencer Edmonds of S & S Guide Service, give him a call at (803) 516-1772 or visit his website at www.sandsfishingguide.net

Crappie Season Just Around The Corner

Editor’s Note: Most folks across the country would agree that they have had enough of winter. The past winter season was plenty cold and recent warm days and the emerging flowers are putting anglers in a spring time mood. No one welcomes spring more than crappie fishermen. Crappie begin moving toward the shallows just as soon as water temperatures begin to climb out of their winter slumps and few fish can compare to a crappie when it comes to fight on light tackle and taste on the dinner plate.

Leading the charge for crappie anglers is Kent Driscoll. Driscoll is a professional guide, tournament angler, and product representative for a number of top of the line crappie products including Driftmaster rod holders. We caught up with Kent preparing his specially designed War Eagle crappie boat for the upcoming season.

Driftmaster: Kent, one look at your boat and it’s pretty easy to tell that Driftmaster rod holders play a big part in your strategies for tournament crappie fishing. What do you like about these Driftmaster products?

Driscoll: Driftmaster makes the ultimate multi-purpose rod holder. No matter how you fish for crappie, there is a Driftmaster setup that’s perfect for every crappie technique out there. It doesn’t matter if you are a week-end angler or fish on a National tournament circuit, they will help you catch fish.

Driftmaster: Let’s get specific Kent, you fish tournaments out in Mississippi for those big white crappie and this year you plan to be fishing Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina for both white and black crappie. Can you tell us about your techniques and which Driftmaster systems work best for you?

Driscoll: During the winter, summer, and early spring when crappie start moving shallow, I will tight line troll for them. Some call it spider rigging, but basically it’s using 6 – 8 long B’n’M Poles fished out the front of the boat. It lets you present your baits at specific depths because the line is fished vertically in the water. Driftmaster has three great systems for spider rigging. The first is the T-250 series “T-bar”. This let’s you fish four rods to a rack, spread the rods out, and have them all lined up. This is a great system for deep water tightlining during the middle of winter or middle of summer when fish are deep. The second system is the T-250 “Crowfoot” mounting system. Same setup as the T-bar but it requires no holes to be drilled in the boat and it’s easier to put on and take off. The third system is the Crappie Stalker. That’s what you do when you fish with these rod holders, you stalk crappie. Each one is independently adjustable of the others. That means when you touch one rod, you don’t relay any movement to the other rods. That helps you detect bites when fish are shallow and it prevents spooking fish. It’s real quiet and let’s you slip up on shallow water fish.

Driftmaster: What about the racks along the sides of your boat?

Driscoll: Those are my crank bait trolling and long lining racks. They are the T-5100 Troll Master racks paired with four Li'l Pro series rod holders. During the summer when big white crappie suspend, I’ll troll crank baits for them. With this crank baiting technique, I’ll run 4 B’n’M rods on either side of the boat. The rods vary from 8 to 14 feet in length and have line-counter reels on them. I vary the distance of line out and the rod’s length to keep the cranks from tangling when trolled. I can run cranks as deep as 16 feet with this system and I catch a lot of big white crappie just above the thermocline doing it.

During the pre-spawn and post spawn seasons, I’ll use the same racks for long line trolling- a great way to catch scattered and suspended black crappie during the spring. Using action-tailed jigs on 4 – 6 pound test line, I cast the jigs out, put the rods in the rack and troll with the electric motor across spawning flats and the edges of channels. It will also work during the summer when fish are suspended higher in the water column.

Driftmaster: Are there any other Driftmaster products that work well with your crappie fishing?

Driscoll: The other two that I really like are the tip savers and the new powder coatings.

When you fish with eight 14 – 16 foot rods at a time, it can be a mess to keep them organized and separated when motoring between spots or trailering to and from the lake. I don’t like rods hanging off the back of the boat, that’s what breaks tips, gets lines tangled, and costs you a bunch of time during a tournament. I can lay my long rods in the tip saver rack and they stay organized.

As for the new powder coatings, they do help protect my rod holder racks, but they look awesome too. That’s a big deal when you are doing photo shoots for magazines or show casing boats and fishing products. It helps you customize your boat and that’s what sponsors like to see- a sharp looking tournament boat. Can I tell you something else that makes me proud to use Driftmaster products?

Driftmaster: Sure, Kent. What’s on your mind?

Driscoll: Everything made by Driftmaster carries a lifetime warranty. Any malfunction, as unlikely as that is to happen, is warrantied, no questions asked. Plus, this stuff is made in America, in a warehouse in Manning, South Carolina. How unusual is that in today’s market?  To have American made stuff that carries a lifetime warranty. Man, that is huge and that is why I’ll never have anything but Driftmaster rod holders on my boat.  

Driftmaster Crappie Stalkers are designed for just that purpose, sneaking up on big slab crappie in shallow water.
Tight lining, or spider rigging, is a trolling tactic for fishing from the front of the boat. Driftmaster has three different rod holder systems specially designed for this lethal tactic.
Professional guide and tournament angler Kent Driscoll uses Driftmaster rod holders in a number of techniques designed to catch slab crappie.
The T-5100 Troll Master racks are great for either long lining or crank bait trolling for crappie.
Driftmaster now offers powder coating to custom match your trolling system with your boat, plus every Driftmaster product is American made and warrantied for life. 
Mastering Mississippi River Catfish

Editor’s Note: No question about it, the Mississippi River is home to some of the biggest blue catfish in the world. In fact, at one time, the world record fish of 124 pounds was caught from the Mississippi and stood from 2005 until 2010 when it was broken. The lure of big catfish is what brings Vicksburg, Mississippi native and veteran cat fisherman Steve Strong back to the river each trip out.

“I don’t guide, I don’t even tournament fish for catfish,” said Strong. “For me it’s all about catching and releasing the biggest catfish I can find. I tell you it’s addictive.”

Strong loves the anticipation of hunting big fish, and he wouldn’t dream of venturing out without Driftmaster rod holders.

Question: What kind of water is the best for big catfish on the Mississippi River?
Strong: One of the keys to catching big catfish from the Mississippi is knowing where the deep holes are. My favorite holes are those that have plenty of deep water, anywhere from 60 to over 100 feet depending on the river stage, and some structure inside the hole that will provide a current break for catfish to hold behind. Catfish like to have something to get behind so they don’t have to fight the current the whole time. It’s like drafting in NASCAR, the first cat will get in the eddy behind a log or a rock and there might be two or three other catfish in there nose to tail behind the first one.

Question: Once you’ve located a potential hole. How do you go about fishing it?
Strong: Once I pick the spot I’m going to fish, the next step is getting set up to fish that location. The current of the river will wash everything downstream that gets in it’s way, so you need to anchor up current and fish fresh cut skipjack herring down current into the hole. But anchoring in the Mississippi can be a little tricky.

If you’re on good structure it’s probably not going to be hard to find something to hang the anchor on. Of course, getting the anchor back can be a problem. I like to use 3 times the amount of anchor line as the depth of water I want the boat to be in. If I’m in an area where there not much structure around the hole and I have to anchor in either mud or sand, then I’ll use 5 times the water depth to allow the flukes a better angle on the bottom.

Positioning the boat correctly means accounting for the direction of the current then backing off the distance of the cast plus the amount of anchor scope.

Question: What size tackle do you use when fishing for Mississippi catfish?
Strong: I recommend 30 pound class tackle. My typical set up is only four rods, since the current has the tendency to push them all back to the middle.  I use 7 foot MH Cat Maxx rods paired with Quantam Cabo baitcasting reels. I also like braided line for it’s strength and sensitivity. I tie a three-way rig using different classes of mono line. The braided line goes to the top end of a 3-way swivel while the weight, on a 12 to 14 inch section of 20 pound mono, is tied to the bottom. The middle eye hosts a 2 foot section of 50 pound mono which is snelled to his hook, either a 7/0 or 8/0 circle hook. I try to use as little weight as I can get away with and still maintain contact with the bottom. I may use a bank sinker all the way up to 10 ounces if the current is bad but the average is about 5 – 6 ounces.

Question: I know you are a fan of Driftmaster rod holders. How do they fit into your catfish setup?
Strong: I put a rod on each corner of the stern of the boat in a ½ inch Driftmaster Duo rodholder and one on each side of the boat in a ½ inch Troller model. The stern rods are cast back into the hole, one up close and one further back and the side rods are cast out to each side of the hole. I love these rod holders. I’ve had big cats, hang ups, and put tons of abuse on them. You just can’t break them.

Question: Are blue catfish the only cats you target when fishing the Mississippi?
Strong: Blue cats are a big draw on the Mississippi River, but they aren’t the only big cat to be found, especially when fishing during the summer. Yellow cats (Flathead Catfish) present just as much fun and excitement as blue cats and the action is better after dark. Catching a yellow cat takes a lot of patience. It’s a lot like trying to kill a big buck. Rather than fishing deep holes, I scout around the shallows looking for blow downs, snags, any place a yellow cat can hide during the day. I make note of those areas in the late afternoon then return at dusk and anchor up above the location.

I use a slip line for flatheads, a rig that allows the line to pass unimpeded when the fish picks up the bait. My favorite baits are live pond perch, gold fish, or any legal sunfish.
Yellow cats are predators and feed mostly at night. You want to put the baits up on the shallow end of the hole and get him to come out from under the snag and take the bait. And when that big ‘ole yellow cat grabs that rod, you better have it in a Driftmaster rod holder or you may never see that rod again.

If you dare to fish the Mississippi River for monster cats, we recommend that you take a look through Driftmaster’s line up of super tough rod holders. Protect your investment. After all, aren’t saving your gear and catching that trophy worth using Driftmaster

Vicksburg, Mississippi native Steve Strong loves fishing for big catfish in the Mississippi River and relies on Driftmaster rod holders to help him catch fish.
Strong’s choice of bait is fresh cut skipjack herring, which he catches from the Mississippi before going fishing.
Strong doesn’t trust a trophy catfish to just any rod holder, he chooses Driftmaster.
Blue catfish aren’t the only monsters in the Mississippi. Yellow cats, or flathead catfish, lurk in the shallows around snags and blow downs.