​How to Catch a Catfish: The Ultimate Guide & Tips


Be it your first time or your one hundredth, you can never go wrong with a little preparation before you go fishing. That too, fishing for a catfish. This article that tells you how to catch a catfish, put together by us, serves to do just that, to bring to you, some helpful heads-ups and information on how to catch a catfish, that will help you catch the one you have your eye on. Let us get on reading.

You may also be interested to read some of our other articles, regarding how to catch salmon

About your Catfish

The first advice on how to catch a catfish? Know your catfish. Let us take a quick read through this amazing fish’s somewhat of a biography, shall we dear angler?

Where does one find a catfish?

Catfishes still living today, are found dwelling mainly in the central and coastal waters of all the continents, excluding Antarctica. Catfishes have occupied every continent at some point in time. There are various kinds of catfishes living, mainly in, tropical South America, Asia and Africa. One group of Catfish are local inhabitants of North America and another group, of Europe. A portion larger than half of the population of all Catfish species, reside in the United States. Catfishes are found living in freshwater only in the regions of Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. Catfishes are residents of freshwater surroundings, despite the fact that most of them are also found in flowing water with less depth. Channel Catfishes are found living in ponds, lakes and streams of Huston Bay in Canada, Northern Mexico and Colorado. They stay close to the bottom and like muddy bottoms more than anything.

What does a catfish eat?

A catfish’s diet keeps changing as it gets older. A channel catfish offspring will heavily eat dragon fly larvae, water beetles and fly larvae. When they become mature catfishes they feed on small fish, seeds, aquatic plants, algae, crawfish and snails. Before a catfish grow into a full adult and is strong enough, they go for foods they can easily hunt and eat. For example, worms and other small insects without a backbone. A catfish’s diet becomes more particular to different species as it becomes older. For instance, the flathead catfish will not eat anything other than live fish. Moreover, bullheads and channel catfishes although, love preying on live fishes, will not let go of the opportunity to eat a decaying or dead fish, if they see one on bottoms of streams or lakes. Channel catfishes generally eats what is in supply in that particular season. Flatheads are carnivorous by nature, and the channel catfish on the other hand will replace their main food items with plants like fruits or berries that may have fallen into the water.

What does a catfish look like?

A catfish is extremely easily recognizable, more easily than that of any other species of fish thanks to its smooth and scale less, naked bodies. The channel catfish has either the color olive or light blue for their skin and its sides are covered with black speckles. Its tail is “V-shaped”-kind of split and, long whiskers around its mouth, a flattened, fairly big head and a lean body. Baby catfishes have a large head and eyes and posterior fins that are medium in size, compared to more grown-up catfish. It is a fact that male catfishes have larger heads and more darkened skin color than those of the female catfishes. The whiskers-like structures around their mouths are there for helping them sense the locations of food, especially in deep waters. Every kind of catfish, excluding the “electrical catfish” have a sturdy, vacant, skeletal ray on their dorsal and pectoral fins.

The catfish is known to keep on growing as they keep on aging. So, the bigger the catfish you see, it is likely to be that much old proportionately. Usually, a catfish is supposed to weigh around two to seven pounds and measure 12 to 24 inches in length. There are some cases where a catfish has grown much more than this, to almost, 52 inches and weighing roughly 58 pounds.


The catfish and mating

The catfish, research shows, have their mating season in the time between May and June every year, when the water temperature hits 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Prior to this time, the male catfish will search for a nesting ground near the shore and utilizes its fins to create a nest on the undersurface. He will also search for a female catfish. During mating season, the female will lay almost 50,000 eggs, for the male fish to fertilize. This whole affair takes around 4 to 6 hours. After fertilizing the eggs, the male will protect the eggs from the female, because she will devour them, if let too close. The eggs will hatch almost a week later and these baby catfishes will be called “fries”.

Catching your Catfish

Equipment and Tools

For obvious reasons, equipment and tools should be your number one priority in your “how to catch a catfish” guide book and that too, the right ones. So, let us take a look at the list below that talks about the tools you should have to catch a catfish.

  • A medium-heavy spinning rod that is about 6-to-7 foot in size and a reel that is coupled with a 14-pound or sturdier erosion-immune mono-filament.
  • You can have live worms or minnows or cut-bait or artificial bait that has a certain stench, for example, catfish, chunks or dough.
  • Long-nosed pliers for disconnecting the hooks.
  • You may want a net or lip-grip for catching fish.
  • Rod holder that is designed for boats or shore-styles.
  • You may use fish finder to know about exact location of catfish.

Places and Timings to Catch your Catfish

Since catfishes can live in many kinds of water bodies, starting from ponds with warm water that is less deep to fast running waters. You should keep a look out for catfishes in the muddy fishes like the creeks and its discharge of water, in day time. You can also check in places like the, river bends, the base of drop-offs, deep holes and humps. The night time gives you a pleasurable catfish hunting experience, because the catfish will utilize the peak of its smelling and tasting senses with the help of its “barbels” (whiskers) to identify food nearby.

Methods and Techniques

A slip-sinker–rig is quite demanded for catfish hunting, because they are found mostly in the bottom. It is constructed by threading a sinker and then a bead to the mainline. Following, the mainline shall be tied to one end of a swivel. A 1 to 2 foot monofilament leader and the hook is attached to the other end of the swivel. You can leave the rig on the bottom or just let it float above the bottom when you are drifting an area.

You also have the choice of float rig. Just add a float above the weight on a slip sinker rig. You have to use this rig by, gradually bait drifting through regions that are dense with wood over places with weed without getting caught in the bottom or in the cover. You can also search the water from the bank if you drift a float.

You can also catch catfish by putting some bait on jig heads. Hoist the jig and let it go into the water along the bottom. More often than not, holding it still, might get you a catfish.

Sometimes, catfishes like to suddenly strike hard and at other times, they will play around the bait, before devouring it completely. If you should be in doubt, you may want to set the hook. An often used rig-fishing strategy is, letting the gnawing catfish consume the line, so it will not cause any friction with you, angler. You know it is hook-set time, when the fish firmly takes the line.

Catfish Fishing Tips

Here are some other pointers that are just as useful for you, for when you go on to catch your catfish.

  • You can have most of the luck if you fish for catfish at the bottom.
  • A very popular and effective replacement for rods include, juglines, trotlines and limblines.
  • It is advised that you use a “sponge hook” if you fish with dip or a bait that has a stench.
  • It is useful to remember, to use a weight line that is heavier than you would normally use for any other fish hunts. You may use a test of minimum 10 pounds.
  • The frequently used live baits used for catfish fishing are, night-crawlers, chicken liver, grasshoppers, minnows, cut-bait, stink-bait, cheese, hot dogs and even as funny as it may sound- bubble gum!
  • Catfish normally eat most from dusk till might night.
  • If by any chance, you get poked with the fish’s fins and break skin, do not worry. Simply, turn the fish over on its back and rub your wounded area on the slime that will be coming out the fish’s belly. Continue this for a long period of time and you will feel no pain or burning sensation in not time. It is still safer to be cautious from the beginning though.

Final Words

We hope and are confident that you will be able to land your targeted catfish, if you have read through this article that tells you, how to catch a catfish. Best of luck!

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