Fall Catfish Efficiency with Minn Kota Ulterra, Humminbird AutoChart Live, and MEGA Imaging

by Brad Durick, Professional Catfish Guide

Most catfish anglers know that fall can be the right time for trophy channel cats, especially if there is moderate flow and cooperative temperatures. With a little flow, channel catfish will make a last push to gorge in preparation for winter. This is an upstream migration that occurs when the water temperatures begin to dip from 70 down to the mid-50s. In a perfect fall, this is a slow drop that takes 15-30 or more days to complete.

When this bite gets into full swing, efficiency on the water is a must to turn good days into great days.  With Humminbird and Minn Kota you can achieve a greater level of this efficiency. 

First, use the map of your river with your Humminbird so you know where the best holes are located.  If your river does not have a map, not to worry because the new HELIX and SOLIX Series models from Humminbird allow you to make your own thanks to AutoChart Live.  Once you have mapped your river, begin looking for small holes that can have a current on one side and an area to rest nearby. When you find them, utilize the MEGA Imaging on your HELIX or SOLIX to locate where the fish are in these holes. If you don’t have MEGA Imaging, other Humminbird units with standard 455 kHz Side Imaging works also.



Once you know where the fish are in a few holes, deploy the Minn Kota Ulterra, activate Spot-Lock and set your lines. I like to set the timer on the HELIX for 15-20 minutes and wait for the catfish.  If there are active fish in the hole you should know very quickly. Keep in mind that these small holes only hold one to three fish.  When you use up your timer or catch a couple fish simply move to the next hole. In some sections of river, these holes are very close together so the trolling motor will take you right to them. I always watch the timer to gauge how much time passes between getting an initial bite and the bites thereafter, and adjust it accordingly.  Sometimes you can shorten your timer to 10 minutes, for example to save even more time.


Once you have established your pattern, it’s easy to follow your AutoChart Live map to preset coordinates or just follow the colors of the holes on the map to the next destination.  If you run MEGA Imaging, you can investigate three or four holes before Spot-Locking and starting to fish then quickly move to the holes you marked fish in.


This method can save a lot of sit time and increase your catch rate just from the efficiency it creates.  Traditional catfishing methods using an anchor might take 5-7 minutes for a short move, which means in an eight hour day you might only fish around 15 spots between your move and setup time.  But by using MEGA Imaging to look at a group of holes and the Minn Kota trolling motor and Spot-Lock to move between them, you should be able to fish five-to- seven more spots per day.  If you average one fish per spot that takes you from 14 to 19 fish per day increasing your catch by 30%. It’s clear to see that at certain times the efficiency provided by Minn Kota and Humminbird can truly increase your catch.