Fishing is fun but fishing for catfish is even better.

They’re easy to find, thanks to their ability to live in different habitats, and easy to attract, as they’re voracious eaters that are likely to be attracted by anything you throw their way.

Better yet, catfish are powerful. Capable of putting quite a fight when you’re trying to get them out of the water.

Yep, fishing for catfish is a wonderful way of spending your day while also bringing something delicious to the dinner table and learning how to do it is as easy as reading this guide:

Things You’ll Need

Everyone has their own way of fishing for catfish and most of them are pretty successful, as catfish aren’t picky eaters. However, these are some of the things you will absolutely need when fishing for them:

  • Fishing Rod: Based on the size of the fish in your region:
    • 20 pound or less catfish require a 6-foot rod and a 10-pound line at the very least.
    • 20 pound or more catfish require a 7-foot rod and a 20-pound line at the very least.
  • Hook: Bait, treble or sinkers.
  • Bait of your choice:
    • Cut bait: Very effective, as they release oils that attract large fish.
    • Night crawlers: Very popular worm with fish of all kinds.
    • Crawfish: A popular prey of catfish in the South.
    • Artificial Bait
  • Net or similar to land the fish.

Recommended, but not needed:

  • Pliers, to remove the hook.
  • Rod holders, for better support.
  • Ice cooler, if you plan on fishing for a while.

How to Catch Catfish

Redtail catfish

Redtail catfish

When it comes to catfish, you’ll find plenty of myths and beliefs that might confuse you, such as catfish being attracted to a particular kind of bait or being ‘awake’ only at certain hours. The truth is that catfish are very versatile animals that adapt to all kinds of circumstances so the following steps should work regardless of where you are.

Step 1: Figure out the right time.

Catfish prefer temperatures close to 50 degrees so spring and summer are ideal seasons to catch this fish.

This depends entirely on your region as temperature isn’t constant through the world. Ask around your local fishing communities in order to figure out what are the best months for this.

Figuring out the best time to fish catfish also involves finding out the right time of the day.
Fishing on the river

Fishing early in the morning or late at night is the best way to ensure large catches but you’ll be able to find catfish all through the day, particularly if it’s raining.

Keep in mind that catfish prefer dark places so, if you’re fishing during the day your best bet are shaded areas.

Step 2: Finding the right place.

Catfish are known to favor places with a slow or weak current, which allows them to rest.
Man and boy fishing on the lake
You’ll be able to find areas like this near logs, rocks or even dams, be it manmade or otherwise.

Deep spots are also a catfish favorite but you’ll be able to find them in river banks, between the roots of nearby trees and muddy areas.

In general, catfish thrive in places where they can hide and ambush other fish so look for areas with plenty of hiding spots.

Step 3: Set up everything.

For the most part, catfish fishing is a matter of sitting and waiting.

Once you’ve selected the spot you’ll fish in just cast your line and wait for the fish to be attracted to the bait.

Don’t expect to get catfish, or any kind of fish for that matter, right away. Catfish might not be picky eaters but even they will take their time every now and then.

If after a while you haven’t hooked anything then reel in your hook and inspect the bite.

If there’s no bait left, then consider adding something larger and throwing in the same spot. Chances are a big fish is lurking around.

If the bait was left untouched then consider looking for a new area or at least casting your line in a different spot.

Step 4: Reeling it in.

All catfish are different in their approach to the bait. Some of them will swallow it whole and try to swim away while others will play with it for a while before going for the kill so you should always be prepared as some catfish are large enough to rip the rod out of your hand if you aren’t ready for them.
Catfish on the line
Once the fish is steadily pulling the line is time to reel it in.

  • Pull the fish closer by pulling the rod up.
  • Drop your rod down as you reel quickly.
  • Whether you should give the fish a bit of slack or keep the line tight depends entirely on the fish. Try both approaches to see what works best and stick to the one that produces results.

Step 5: Landing the catfish.

Fisherman Showing Catch

There’s a common myth out there that says that catfish sting.

They don’t.

The thing you should worry about are the fins which have a hard spine running through the length of them. These spines are particularly sharp in small fish and actually contain a venom that will cause irritation and pain

How do you land a catfish without injuring yourself?

It depends on the size:

  • Small fish: Hold it from the top, placing your hand in front of the dorsal fin.
  • Medium fish: The best way of doing this is using a lip grip, be it the tool or…yep, grabbing the cat by its mouth.
  • Big fish: You’ll rarely get finned by this kind of fish so don’t worry about it. Use a net or lip grips to hold them in place and keep your hands away from their mouths!

With this information you’re ready to go out and reel in your first catfish.

Are you excited?

We sure are.

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you have any questions!


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