What Is The Best Way To Catch Catfish?

What Is The Best Way To Catch Catfish

Catfishes are aggressive, and they are almost always hungry, and one can easily hook them up. Along with catfishes, you can also find some potential filets which are your additional bonus.

However, catfishes are exclusively particular and are freshwater species, so you can only learn to catch them either in ponds, lakes, and rivers. Stick to this article to learn about tips and tricks so that you can maximize your chances of finding this delicious fish.

What Is The Best Way To Catch Catfish?

One of the best methods that are employed to catch fish is the slip-sinker rig method, according to which catfishes are most often located at the bottom of the water. To make this, a sinker on the mainline is threaded, and after that a bead. After that, you have to attach the main line to one of the ends of the swivel. There will be a one to two feet monofilament leader on the one end of the swivel which is then followed by a hook. You can leave the rig on the bottom and can also hover it on the floor while drifting from an area.

Another option is a float’s rig. For this, you have to add afloat on the slip sinker rig, above the weight. Slowly drift your bait using this rig through the weed or over the wood-rich catfish lairs, but be careful of snagging on the bottom or in cover. Drifting the float also aids in covering water from the bank.

What Is The Best Way To Catch Catfish

You can also employ the method of tipping the jig head with the bait, which is also an effective way of catching catfish. First, lift the jig, and then drop it along the bottom. At times, holding the jig also results in a bite.

Most of the time catfish are quick and they hit hard. Sometimes, they do not take the bait directly but first, play with it before fully taking the bait into their mouth. If you are in doubt, set your hook.

A usual rig-fishing strategy is the one in which you feed the line to a catfish who is taking small bites so that it won’t feel aversion. When you see that catfish is steadily taking the line, it’s time for you to set your hook and catch it.

What Is The Best Month To Catch Catfish?

The best months to go for catfishing are late March, April, and the initial days of May. These months are considered the best blue catfishing months of the year. In these months, fishermen can catch huge quantities of fish, and it also provides a lot of opportunities for the anglers to catch trophy class catfish too. If you want excellency and consistency go for channel catfish action as well.

As summer approaches and the water begins to get warm and stabilize itself, the catfishes literally go crazy in action. Warm water is the prime reason why they are so active. As in winters they do little to no action and are also hungry due to long winters they will literally bite anything. Click here to read How To Catch Crappie Fish?

Due to the lethargic winter, catfishes lose a lot of bodyweight and they have to put it back in the summers by actively feeding themselves. Catfish, particularly the flat head ones, are literally inactive during the winters, and the warm spring mater makes them fall into a feeding ecstasy, which ultimately adds back the weight which they had lost in the winter but also prepares them for the spawn.

How Do You Fish For Catfish In A Lake?

In large Lakes, that actually fall under the category of big lakes you can actually find some big catfishes. Catfishes usually hide under the old creeks, and along the river channels in deeper waters.

At night in particular they move towards the shallow depths, and also in the flats located next to channels, which also gives anglers fair opportunities to catch fish.

If you follow a creek channel till the end of the cove across a flat, you will definitely find some catfishes along with it. Catfishes love to hold on bottom surfaces like rocks, clay, gravel, etc, but they found a preference for hard bottoms.

Baits To Be Used In Lakes:

Catfish will literally eat anything that enters their mouths. Among natural options, their favorite ones are live minnows, liver, earthworms, and mealworms. In the market, you can also find a huge market of prepared stink baits as well. The market baits are particularly famous for bottom fishing, they resemble dough-and-paste and the anglers mold them into different bait shapes for efficient fishing.

Equipment To Use In Lakes:

You should always match the size of your rod, reel, and line to the size of catfishes you are expecting to catch. On smaller and lighter spinning and baitcasting rods, small catfishes are ideal to catch.

But if you aim to catch bigger catfishes you really need to up your game with heavy-action rods, reels having a good drag, and stronger lines to handle heavy catfish. Most of the anglers use light saltwater gear when they are going to catch 50-pound catfish.

For smaller catfishes, a 6-7 feet medium-action spinning rod, and a reel with medium-duty that performs good dragging work fine.

What Attracts Catfish The Most?

Catfishes are one of the bottom-feeding species and therefore they get attracted both by smell and sight. They are attracted to brighter colors like red and orange. One of the best baits is Cheetos puffs. Why? Because they have a bright orange color that attracts the catfish and its corny cheesy smell further eases up the process.

As they are omnivorous bottom-feeders, catfishes usually tend to eat more at night. Their common staple includes aquatic plants, and seeds, mollusks, small fishes, insects, their larvae, and also shelled creatures like crustaceans.

While choosing bait for the catfish keep in mind that the more smelly it is, the good it is for the catfish. Therefore, items like gutted fish, chicken liver, rotting shrimps, rotten cheese, or Limburger cheese are some of the prime baits for catfish. The best bait is the combination of these baits that are left to “ripen more” for a few days. In this way, the scent is irresistible to the catfish.

What Is The Best Time Of The Day To Fish For Catfish?

The best time in the day to fish for catfish is the time of dawn and dusk. An hour before the sunset, and two hours after the sunrise. The former time frame is ideal for summers. In winters, you can fish for catfish from late in the morning till an hour before the sunset. These are not written rules, some anglers may catch catfish other than these time durations. But most of the time, fishing in these windows will provide you with the maximum chances of catching a catfish quickly because they are most active during these hours and will bite relentlessly.

In my opinion, fishing catfish is best when done at nighttime. I usually prefer to fish an hour before the sunset, and the bites remain consistent and good till the night, and also after an hour of the sunrise.

The reason why it is better to fish at night is that most of the catfishes come out of their shades near the sunset and follow shad and bluegills and that is why you can spot them at shallow bays and flats during these times. As they come in shallow waters, they are in the casting range of the anglers and fishermen. The most important principle in catching catfishes is to present them with both live and dead bait.

What Size Hook Should You Use For Catfish?

If you are using circle hooks of any type, then for large fishes size of 7-8 works best. For a big blue catfish, you can go for a 10/10 hook. However, most of the anglers that usually aim for medium-sized catfishes always look for 5/10 or 6/10 hooks. If you are someone who does catch and go fishing, then you must go for circle hooks.

If you are not using prepared bait for the catfish, you may want to opt for Kahle hooks. Its shape is neither a J-hook nor a circle hook. Therefore, they are ideal for cut bait, hot dogs, and crayfish.

The larger loop helps in attaching a chunk of a good size to it. If you are using live bait like bluegill, then you should not be using a Kahle hook because it will give a lot of room for the bait to squirm. When aiming for small to medium fish look for 3/0 or 4/0 Kahle hooks. Any bait or fish smaller than this size will not hold in this hook.

For small channel cats, one can use 2/0 Kahle hooks. Larger hooks would be perfect for bigger blue catfishes. For a catfish, more than 10 pounds, a Kahle hook of 5/0 is the ideal one.

Do Hot Dogs Work For Catfish?

Hotdogs act as fine baits for the catfish and most of the anglers prefer to use them. Hotdog baits are easily available, inexpensive, and can be used by anyone. While other baits seem expensive and out of access, this one seems to work just fine. Hotdogs that have a very strong smell which we usually avoid, because they are nasty, work extremely well for the catfish. They are also inexpensive too.

To provide stiffness and fitness to your hotdog, you can opt for the garlic powder method. Cover the hot dog in garlic powder and heat it up. It will help to keep the hotdog on the hook for longer periods as it toughens up the hot dog and also helps in attracting catfish due to its strong scent.

Is It Better To Fish For Catfish At Night?

Fishing for catfish at night will be much more fruitful as compared to the day. At the night, the catfish come out of their shades and structures and follow shad and bluegills, hence moving towards shallow waters. It makes them much easier to find and anglers can easily catch them. When the sun is down, the prey of catfish is much more comfortable in shallow waters, near the shore, and environs.

At night, baits should be selected wisely, and I would recommend going with chicken liver. However, this is not any hard and fast rule. Many anglers have seen success with a lot of other baits. Always remember a general rule of thumb that is: “ The funkier it will be the more it will attract the catfish.”

Remember that you don’t particularly have to go at night for catfishing. Catfishes are active eaters at all times of the day. But at night cool shallow waters will push some catfishes to come out, hence providing you a bit more luck to catch one.

What Is The Best Bait To Catch Catfish?

Among the most common baits, chicken liver is considered to be the most efficient bait for catfish while others are:

  • Asian Carp
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Crawfish
  • Punch Bait
  • Stink Bait
  • Shrimps
  • Blood Baits
  • White Suckers
  • Skipjack Herrings

Whether it be a flathead or a blue catfish, most of the catfish species are apex predators. That means you will find them quite aggressive in their search or live wriggling baits. But, on the other hand, a catfish’s body is entirely covered in olfactory sensors, which means anything highly pungent will attract them. That is why artificial high stinky baits are also quite successful in catching catfish.


Catfishes are no jokes, they are quite aggressive and can cause any angler frustration. That is why one must equip himself with the knowledge of where to find catfish, the best techniques to catch them, and what are the best baits to lure them. If you know the former information you can easily catch catfish, even one worthy of a trophy.

Knowing what the catfish eats and how it responds to several baits is the ultimate battle. The other half of the battle can be won easily by using the right equipment, and high-performance gear. It will help to keep you calm while battling with a stubborn catfish.

In this article, I have accumulated all the information necessary to catch a catfish efficiently and effectively in no time. Make sure you are using the right equipment, fishing at the right time, and using the right bait, then there is nothing that can stop you.

Ricki Cooper

I have been fishing for 11 years. I believe in the famous saying "If fishing is interfering with your business, give up your business".

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