While other types of fishing tends to shut down in the winter, big blue catfish bite the best the colder it gets.
In fact, creel surveys from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation show that big blues (30 inches or larger) are caught at twice the rate in the winter as they are in the summer.
“They just don't seem to shut down in the winter time,” said Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Perhaps part of that is the result of more fishing guides targeting big blues in the winter.
On Lake Texoma and the Red River, a tremendous blue cat fishery, more striper guides have found a way to keep busy in the winter by booking fishing trips for big blue cats.
And now is the time to go.
“The (blue cat) bite is really good,” said Larry Sparks, owner of Sparky's Guide Service on Lake Texoma. “It's basically always good this time of year. They are also a better eating fish when they get cold.”
While most anglers are fishing in deeper water in the winter, that's not always the case for blue catfish, said Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
On warm, sunny days in the winter when the wind is right, blue cats can be found moving into shallow flats to feed and sometimes are caught in 2 or 3 feet of water, he said.
Oklahoma grows some monster blue cats, especially at Lake Texoma and the Red River.
Sparks had a client once catch a 92-pound blue cat. The Oklahoma rod and reel record is 98 pounds from Lake Texoma in November 2004.
The Texas blue cat record is 121 pounds from Lake Texoma in January 2004.
And the all-tackle record in Oklahoma is a 118-pound blue cat caught on a jug line at Lake Texoma in 1988.
But Lake Texoma is not the only place in Oklahoma to get the blues.
Grand, Kaw, Keystone, Eufaula, Kerr and Webber Falls (Arkansas River system) all produce big blue catfish and several of those lakes are home to guides who specialize in fishing for the blues.