Catfish Fishing

How to Catch Catfish

If you love a fish that puts up a good
fight, then catfish is a great place to start. They’re delicious to eat, and
they’re pretty easy to catch – they’re famously willing biters! But where do
you start? And how can you make the most of your catfishing time? Here are some
tips and tricks to get you on your way.

Types of Catfish

Before you do anything, make sure you know
your types of catfish. Different types are going to have different bait
preferences and different places in the water that they like to hang out in.
Maximize your catching time by knowing your stuff.

1. Channel Catfish

Channel catfish are the most popular and
most common type of catfish in the United States. They’re smooth and scaleless
and tend to hang out near the bottom of the water. They can be found pretty
much anywhere from Hudson Bay in Canada, all the way down to Mexico.

Drawing of a channel catfish

Channel Catfish are great eating, and fun to catch.

2. Flathead Catfish

A flathead catfish is otherwise known as a
Mudcat or a shovelhead catfish. They tend to be bigger than the channel catfish
and are largely recognised as the tastiest type of catfish. Unlike the channel
catfish, flathead catfishes hide out under logs or at river bends, making them
a little bit trickier to find.

3. Blue Catfish

The blue catfish are the biggest variety of
catfish out there, and are often mistaken for their smaller channel catfish
cousins, due to their colouring. They’re often found around the Mississippi
basin and in parts of Florida. Blue catfish now have pest status in some states, which means
that it’s definitely time to get fishing!

What's the best bait to use?

This is the big question! Many fishermen
will have their own baits that they swear by, but here’s a few that are
consistently reeling in these tasty catches.

Skipjack herring, and other oilier fishes
work an absolute treat on catfish, especially if they’re still live. If you’re
going after channel or blue catfish, you can use dead ones and they’ll still be
effective, but as with most fish, fresh bait is the best.

Homemade stinkbaits can also work well when
trying to catch catfish as they trick the catfish into thinking fish are in the
area. However, if you are planning on using stinkbaits, make sure you have all
the necessary kit to use them – their soft nature makes it difficult to use
them on their own.

And if all else fails, head to the grocery
store. It may sound odd, as chunks of meat aren’t natural to a catfish’s
habitat, but these carnivorous fishes have been known to bite on some of these
pantry staples;

  • Chicken liver
  • Hotdogs
  • Canned spam
  •  Shrimp

There are really plenty of choices when it
comes to choosing your bait for these popular fish. Because of their size,
catfish will bite on pretty much any kind of live fish that is small than
themselves; this can include minnow and goldfish if you’re coming up short on
the more oily fish.

Catfish Rigs

The most commonly used, and the most
effective, rigs that are used for catching catfish of all types involve using
circle hooks and slip sinkers. Now of course, there are plenty of rig types
that use these two tools – so it’s all about using the right rig for the right
location.

With most catfishes living at the bottom of
the lakes or rivers, the slip sinker is an essential tool in keeping your rig
grounded. This way your hook stays in the best possible place for when those
big catfishes come swimming by.

If you’re trying to catch a flathead, or
are fishing in a more muddy area, then a float rig might be a better solution
for you. Just pop a float above the slip
sinker weight and it’ll balance out the rig so that the scene of your bait doesn’t
get buried in the layers of mud.

Using a circle hook is probably the best
choice when trying to catch catfish, as they’ll commonly try and back away
after getting the bait. This way it hooks the fish successfully, so they can’t
swim away with the bait – and we definitely wouldn’t want that!

Tips & Tricks

So, you know your types of catfish, and you
know what kind of rigs would be best for your catch, so you’re ready for a
couple of quick tips to make the most of your fishing trip.

Try a
spot of night fishing

Catfish are well known for hunting and
eating in the dark, so this is your best chance to reel yourself a really good
catch. As soon as the sun starts shining, the catfish are less likely to come
out and take a bite, so keep this in mind when you’re planning your trip.

Be seasonal

Although you can catch catfish all year
round, there are definitely times of year where they’re easier to catch than
others. This will obviously depend on your region, so try out different times
of year to see what works best. And although catfish don’t like the sunshine,
they also don’t like cold water, so spring is a good bet for a big yield.

Take cover

As we’ve already established, catfish don’t
like a lot of sun, so if you are going fishing in the daytime, keep your eyes
peeled for areas of cover. Overhanging trees and fallen logs can prove
fruitful, as they provide some much needed shade for these big fish.

Move around!

It might sound counterintuitive, but sometimes you need to keep moving to get that bigger catch. When catfish are
actively feeding, they’ll only stay in an area between 10 and 30 minutes at the
absolute most. If you haven’t had a bite by 30 minutes, it’s time to move
along.

So now what?

So, here’s a quick look at how to make the
most of your next catfish catching trip. You know what variety you’re likely to
get, you know what rig you’re going to use, and you’re all equipped with our
useful tips and tricks. Just remember to measure your catfish to make sure it
meets the size requirements for your region – if it does, great! Catfish
dinners all around!