How To Catch Catfish

Catfishing is a popular sport, and for good reason. These fish can fight back and leave you to feel like the fish won, even if it got caught.

Catfish are edible, and can make a delicious meal if you know how to prepare it well. However, eating is  not always the reason for catfishing – the truth is, it is fun! 

If you want to go catfishing and are new to it, or require a reminder of how to get these fish, you’re in the right place.

Below, we will go through what a catfish is, where you can find them, when you should go fishing, and much more.

So, if you want to have the fight of your life and do it right, strap in and take some notes – we’re going catfishing!

What Is A Catfish, And Where Do You Find Them?

Catfish are a common fish found in various places in the world. These fish can typically get to weigh up to 600 lbs (272 kg) in some part of the world like Europe and be 5 meters long.

However, sizes can vary from species to species. The average size of a catfish in the States is between 3.9 to 5.2 feet, and that can make for a great day out fishing.

They are opportunists when it comes to food, and will eat almost anything available to them. This can include frogs, clams, crayfish, snails, and even other small fish.

However, these fish will also happily consume aquatic plants and seeds, larvae, and insects, so anything goes. Catfish love the smell of anything that stinks, too, so they are attracted to rotting food.

These fish can be large and small, and do well in almost any aquatic environment. You can find some species of catfish in fast rivers, and others in shallow ponds and various water systems.

Typically, these fish love muddy water during the day, like the water found at outflows and tributaries, but they also like river bends and deep holes. It is likely that almost anywhere you go where the water is warm.

In the States, you could come across four main types of popular catfish:

Channel Catfish – found in rivers, lakes, ponds and reservoirs and prefer clear water. These fish can reach up to 20 pounds.
Bullhead Catfish – found in almost every state across the US and live in ponds, rivers, lakes and reservoirs. These fish only reach lengths of around 16 inches.
Flathead Catfish – found throughout Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio River basins. These fish can weight up to 100 pounds or bigger.
Blue Catfish – found in the same area as flatheads, but can reach 143 pounds or larger.

How to Catch Catfish

When You Should Go Catfish Fishing

If you already know where to find these fish, the next step is figuring out when it is time to go after them. You can go catfishing year-round, but summer is the best time. More specifically, summer nights. 

Most catfish move from deeper to shallow water and night to feed. This makes fishing much easier, as you can not only see them, but keep track of them easily.

Because of this, you are probably going to get some good catches. You should be able to find catfish in the shallows of rivers and lakes where there are weeds and branches in the area.

Crucial Gear For Catching Catfish

You do not have to have heavy-duty equipment to go catfishing effectively. In reality, all you need are a few basic pieces, and you will be ready to go. Essential gear for catching catfish include:

A Good Fishing Rod – your rod should be a 6-7 foot, medium-heavy spinning rod and reel. It should be spooled with abrasion-resistant monofilament that can handle weights of 14 pounds or more.
Bait – catfish like bait that stinks or is alive. Great options for this include minnows or live worms, but other cut, smelly, or artificial bait will work, too. You can use chunks of catfish or even dough to attract your next catch.
A Net Or Lip Grip – you will need a way to hold the fish once you have landed it. A net or lip grip work great to make sure that monster will not escape.
Terminal Tackle – terminal tackle refers to the gear that gets attached to the end of a line (hooks, sinkers, floats, beads, etc.). For catfishing, use bait hooks, jig heads, bobbers, beads, swivels, split shots, 0.5 to 2 ounce egg sinkers, and #2 to #6 treble hooks.
Long Nosed Pliers – long nosed pliers will be needed for removing the hook from the mouth of the fish.
Boat / Shore Rod Holder – you might need a helping hand in the form of a rod holder so that your fishing rod stays in place and does not drift off.

Method Of Catching

Slip Sinker – this is a popular method for catfishing, and an effective one, too. This is a great option for catfish that are sitting near the bottom of the water.

It involves threading a sinker to the mainline, then threading a bead. Tie the mainline to a swivel’s one end and attach a monofilament leader around 1 or 2 feet long, then add the hook.

This rig can stay on the bottom or be held above the floor when you drift an area.

How to Catch Catfish

Float Rig – for this rig, all you need to do is add a float on the slip sinker rig above the weight.This setup can be used by slowly pulling the rig through the water where the catfish are.

Specifically, in wooded areas or areas covered in weeds. Make sure you do not snag the bottom or the debris in the water.

Catfish can be nibblers and play with their food, or they can jump straight in and go for gold. You need to be prepared for either one when you decide to go out catfishing.

You never know what you are going to get, and if you are ever in doubt of what to do, set the hook. It is common to feed the line to a catfish that is nibbling on the bait, and doing this ensures that the fish will not feel any resistance.

This makes it more likely that they will go for a big bite, which is your perfect chance to set the hook and begin the battle.

Final Thoughts On Catching Catfish

Catfish are a great species if you want the fish to put up a fight. Depending on where you live, there could also be some killer catfish near you.

These fish can be big or small, but no matter their size, they will probably feel a lot bigger when they are when they’re on the other end of the line.

If you want to go catfishing, make sure you are geared up with all the right equipment. As long as you go at night, pick a good spot, and have some patience, chances are you will reel in a big one – maybe ever a record-breaker!

George Alexander
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