Catfish Fishing Tips

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Whether you’re new to fishing or a seasoned angler, reeling in a big catfish is a lot of fun. But hang on noodlers, before you put your arm in a river hole, hone your catfish fishing techniques with these essential tips.

Finding the Right Place & Time

Catfish have many homes. Regardless of where you’re fishing, whether it be a pond, lake, stream or river, look for places that fish might hide. Catfish are fond of deep water holes and areas with lots of debris and cover like stumps, fallen trees, and rocky ledges.

The best times to catch these fish are late night or early morning. While catfish are not very active in winter, there’s no true “catfish season.” Depending on where you’re fishing, catfish are most active when the water temperature is above 50° F. From spring to fall, you’re likely to get a bite.

The Right Gear

It’s important that, along with your rod and reel, you have the right kind of tackle for catfish. Circle hooks usually catch the fish in the corner of the mouth, so these hooks are ideal for catch and release. Other hooks have the potential to hook the fish through the eye. Depending on the size of fish you’re after, the right hook size ranges from 1/0 (small channel cats) to 10/0 (giant flatheads). Unless you’re fishing for monsters, a 20-pound test monofilament fishing line is a good place to start. For the big ones, invest in some heavy duty line.

The next step is to set up your rig. The best way to catch catfish is to use something called a “slip sinker rig.” There are a variety of rig styles, but this is one of the most common catfish rigs. Start with your hook. Tie on a monofilament leader. Next, tie on a barrel swivel. To that, attach a sinker and the main line which is connected to your reel. Egg, No-Roll or sinker slides weights work best.

Before you head out to the water, make sure you’ve got the right kinds of outdoor wear you need. Comfortable waterproof boots, extra socks, a good hat and a rain jacket are good things to keep with you, so visit a quality outfitter like Carhartt to stock up. One last thing to remember is to always carry your fishing license.

Catfish Types and Tips

Depending on what kind of catfish you’re after, there are some tips for each variety.

Channel Catfish

Channel cats are the most common catfish variety found in most types of water. They’re attracted to various baits including dead baitfish and stinkbait. While channel cats will go for moving targets, you can usually catch them on the bottom.

Blue Catfish

Often found in rivers and reservoirs, blue cats respond to both live and dead bait. Blue cats grow much larger than channel cats, but not quite as large as the giant flatheads. Blue cats prefer baitfish. It can be dead or alive, and depending on the size of fish you’re after, you can use bait chunks or whole fish.

Flathead Catfish

Late night is the best time to go after flatheads. Flatheads are partial to live bait fish. These cats prefer rivers, and they like to hide behind debris and in holes. For these, you’ll often need a 100-pound test. Record giant flatheads have weighed in at over 120 lbs.

Bullhead Catfish

These small fish make great catches for the table. They are commonly found in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and in slow moving areas in creeks and rivers. They grow upwards of two pounds. These little guys like nightcrawlers and dead fish.

Catfish are an ideal fish to target for an enjoyable day of fishing. They are easier to catch than trout or bass, and they are also tasty additions to the fish fry. So now that you know more about catfish, you’re ready to get it in gear and head out to your favorite fishing hole.

Did you enjoy this article? Check out our guides for catching rainbow trout, crappie, trout, rock bass, pike and other fish species you can catch with ultralight tackle.

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