Catfish fishing is widespread, the fish are plentiful, and it’s just plain fun; not to mention delicious eating. Some gourmets claim it’s the finest tasting fish around. However, if you want to enjoy eating catfish you must first know how to fish for them. And, contrary to what you might have heard, the usually hungry catfish won’t gobble any bait dropped within striking range. It does require a certain level of skill and know how to catch catfish consistently.
Most bragging-sized catfish are caught at night on trotlines, droplines, juglines or similar devices. These fish are basically nocturnal prowlers, feeding in the dark, and with such lines the fisherman can let them fish for the catfish while he sleeps. Big catfish are few and far between, and they feed unpredictably.
Smaller catfish, on the other hand, need food more regularly to satisfy growing pains, and they are apt to be active both day and night. They also are more abundant. The odds of you catching ten one-pound cats are far greater than catching one ten pounder. Catfish, even the stodgy bullhead, can be fun to fish for and catch on light tackle.
Catfish, in one form or another, are found practically everywhere in the United States. More than 24 species are recorded, but some like the stonecat and madtom are tiny fish, only a few inches in length. For sport fishing there are seven catfish that you can fish for: channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, white catfish, brown bullhead, black bullhead and yellow bullhead, with the first four being most readily sought after.
To learn how to catch catfish, you need to fit three pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together: the right tackle, the right bait and the right place. Any one or all three can vary depending on the circumstances.
Catfish Fishing Tackle
An almost ideal rig for catfishing is a seven-foot, medium-action spinning rod and a good quality spinning reel with a smooth, adjustable drag, loaded with 10-pound-test monofilament line. Smaller fish can put up a respectable fight on this tackle, yet it has sufficient backbone to catch larger catfish, if the angler doesn’t get excited and lose control of the situation. Fish seldom break lines; fishermen do.
Where To Fish For Catfish
Catfish inhabit all kinds of water; farm ponds, streams and rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. But no matter what type of water, cats will be found only in selective parts, not evenly distributed throughout the whole. Just moving a few feet in one direction or the other might mean the difference between success and failure.
Fishing for catfish, more than anything else, is a game of look and find. You travel and cover a lot of water – either from shore, by wading or from a boat – until you find a gathering of catfish. The mistake most anglers make is that they stay in one place and stay there for hours, hoping the catfish will “start biting.” Try maybe ten to fifteen minutes in one spot, and if by then you haven’t had a bite, move to another location.
Catfish Fishing Facts
Catfish are usually easier to find in rivers than in lakes because you can visually locate hot spots, and the moving water carries the bait’s scent to the catfish. Eddies, deep holes, and along the fringes of the current are all top catfish holding areas.
Check around and find which catfish baits produce best in your area. I use natural baits almost exclusively: earthworms, nightcrawlers, crayfish, minnows, etc. When fishing for catfish with a minnow thread it on the hook and crush it between your fingers to release the body juices. It’s important to remember that catfish feed mostly by smell.
A common mistake that many catfish fishermen make is to use a hook that is too large. A small hook will actually keep hold of a large catfish, but it is very difficult to fish for any smaller cats, around a pound in size, on a hook larger than 2/0, and often a No. 1/0 is a superior choice. Now you’ve learned more on how to fish for catfish.