How to Catch Catfish [Beginner’s Guide to Catfish Fishing]

Catfish fishing is enjoyable. They put up a good fight, are numerous, and have a terrific flavor. Catfish are also eager biters and can be captured with a basic bait rig from the bank or from a boat. These murky water fish are known for their unique taste and their trademark “cat-like” whiskered appearance.

This article will show you different techniques to capture a catfish, whether you are angling for a meal or just want to spend quality time on the river.

Catfish types

The first thing you should know about capturing catfish is that there are several different types. Identifying which catfish you are pursuing is crucial to success. You will not use the same strategies for all.

Fishers in the United States seek three significant catfish subspecies: blue catfish, channel catfish, and flathead catfish. They often appear in the same waters and pursue the same prey, yet they are totally different species.

Blue catfish

The most extensive and most valuable of America’s catfish is the blue catfish. They can grow to enormous proportions, with the all-time record weighing in at a whopping 143 pounds. Blue catfish have the advantage of not being as lonesome as Flatheads. Single giants, as well as large groups of them, can be landed. This results in a far more exciting fishing session.

Blue catfish have a similar range as Flatheads, although they prefer the deeper waters of lakes and river sections. They like to linger out near solid currents, where they wait for prey to come to them.

Flathead catfish

Flathead Catfish are among the most difficult to capture. They are lonely, challenging to locate, and put up a fight if caught. Even seasoned fishermen are content if they only capture one large fish per trip.

Flatheads typically reach a maximum weight of roughly 100 pounds. However, beasts have been known to gain 120 pounds before. With a long body and a square, flattened head, they can easily differentiate from other species.

Channel catfish

The channel catfish is much smaller than its blue and flat-headed relatives. The majority do not exceed 20 pounds, and fishers typically aim these for quantity rather than size. The Channel Catfish is not the most giant catfish in the area, but it moves around a lot. Channel catfish can be found almost anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.

How to differentiate channel from blue catfish

It is difficult to tell the difference between a blue and a channel catfish. Channel Catfish are brown with dark dots in concept, but Blue Catfish are blue. On the other hand, catfish come in a variety of colors, and Channel Catfish lose their patches after they reach a size where they may be mistaken for Blue.

The tail is the simplest way to differentiate the fish. Both Blue and Channel catfish have split tails, although Blue catfish’s forks are straighter and more peaked, while Channel catfish tails are more curved. On their anal fins, Blue catfish have more rays.

Methods of catching a catfish


Noodling is a time-honored and well-respected technique of catfishing that requires no extra gear. To capture a catfish with just bare fists (and a fair degree of daring), all you need is a noodle.

You will have to perform some prospecting to capture a catfish by noodling. Catfish lay their eggs and establish colonies in rocky crevices, submerged crevices, and hollowed-out tree trunks.

When you come to a catfish nest, get down into the water around it and start feeling about. If a catfish is present, it will most likely be defending its nest. It will respond aggressively, providing you the opportunity to grab it by the bottom jawline and gain a solid grip on it.


Put a jug line in the water, allow it to sit for a while, then monitor the jugs and pluck them out of the water when a whisker fish accepts the lure. It is worth noting that juggling is illegal in almost every state. Local rules can be found on the website of your state’s Wildlife Resources Agency.

Rod and reel

The most popular method of catching a catfish is using a spin rod and reel. This catfishing technique is ideal for those beautiful evenings on the riverbank. It is also a fantastic choice for folks who do not own a boat.


Capturing catfish using trotlines is an absolute blast, and it is a terrific way to feed your relatives and friends some of the most incredible food available. Although many fishermen have preferred methods for getting catfish, there are a few tried-and-true tips and strategies that can help you catch a lot more fish than the next guy.

Setting a catfish trotline might be a reasonably straightforward technique to capture a huge number of these fish with few attempts. All of the materials for constructing a personal trotline can be obtained in supermarkets and are relatively cheap for the number of catfish it can catch.

Catfishing tips

  • Gear does not catch catfish. Many new fishermen concentrate much more on their equipment, obsessing about the types of rods, reels, and tackle they use. A few “must-haves” for catfish setups, such as good hooks, lines, and other fundamentals. Outside these necessities, do not be a gearhead; the best gear in the world will not help you capture these fish if you are not using the correct bait in the right spot at the right time.
  • Rod action. The zone around and closest to the tip of a short action rod will flex the greatest. A slow-motion rod bends all through the majority of the blank or from the grip to the end of the rod.
  • Do not shake the rod. Most individuals will pick up a fishing rod in a retailer, stretch it out in front of them, and jiggle it to observe what unfolds, which shows you nothing. Look at the action and intensity, which tells you everything you need to know about the situation. If you want to examine the rod, grip the tip and drag it down to get a sense of its motion and power.
  • Handle length matters. When buying catfish rods, pay strict attention to the length of the handle, especially if you plan to catch giant catfish. Huge catfish are considerably easier to handle with longer holds, and you have more power over the fish. You will instantly distinguish if you ever hook a giant catfish on a short rod with a small handle.
  • You do not need heavy catfishing rods. There is a misconception that “catfish” rods must be extremely heavy, with no twist or flexibility; these are referred regarded as “broomstick” rods. Light fishing rods can catch giant trophy-class catfish just as effortlessly as these big, hefty “broomstick” rods. These heavy fishing rods will disappoint you if you plan on angling for smaller catfish.

Where to catch catfish

Catfish may flourish in various aquatic environments, ranging from shallow, warm ponds to swift rivers. While multiple species prefer distinct environments, there are several broad regions where catfish can be found. 

Look for catfish in murky water locations during the day, such as a stream and its outflow. Deep formations, such as river meanders, the bottom of drop-offs, deep holes, and humps, are also fantastic. Catfish will also congregate near covers, such as standing timber and weedy edges.

Fishing is especially good at night. To find food at night, catfish use their enhanced senses of taste and smell, as well as their barbels. At night, prowling catfish are commonly caught on flats, bars, points, shorelines, and weedy places.

When to fish

Catfish are thought to be caught at night, according to popular belief. Although most people go catfishing at night, that does not imply you cannot catch big fish daytime. It all depends on where you are fishing and what kind of fish you want to capture.


Capturing catfish from a boat is much simpler throughout the day since you can get out to deeper waters. You can fish from the shore if you can cast correctly into deep water. Begin by fishing points and humps in the deepest portions of the river or lake, then gradually find your way to shallower water until you locate the correct depth.


Individuals go catfishing at night for two reasons: it is much colder, and the fish are in much shallower water. Catfish follows their bellies, which follow the forage.  On a hot summer day, the topwater becomes too warm for baitfish. They also feel more secure in open water at night.

The best bait to use

Your bait selection should vary depending on the species you are pursuing, as it should with all elements of catfishing. The traditional “stink bait” may be effective for a bit of scavenger, but it will not help an apex predator. Keeping that in mind, below are some of the most effective baits for each species:

  • Flathead Catfish prefer to eat live prey. That is not to argue that dead baits are not effective. However, because Flathead hookups are already rare, opting for live bait will increase your chances.
  • Smaller channel catfish are majorly scavengers and go after scents that would make most individuals throw up. Dip baits are ideal since they deliver all of the stenches without mess. Many elite catfishers use punch baits because they have a little more substance. When channel catfish reach adulthood, they begin to hunt more and rely less on scraps. Fresh dead baits will catch more fish than stinkbait because of this. Just keep in mind that the hatch must always be matched.
  • When it comes to taking cut bait, Blue catfish are far less picky than Flatheads. They favor fresh oily fish, but they do not seem to mind if it is dead.


With this information, you have no reason not to go out and fish for catfish. Remember that a terrible day of fishing is better than a good day at work, regardless of how much catfish you capture.

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