Catfish Fishing Tips – Techniques to Help You Catch Catfish in Lakes & Rivers

Catfish Fishing Tips – Techniques to Help You Catch Catfish in Lakes & Rivers

Need a plan for the weekend? Go catfish fishing. Whether you are a novice or experienced fisherman, catfish fishing is an exciting activity that speaks of mad fun in the water.

Catfish are a voracious species of fish that grow to ridiculously huge sizes. However, the fish present an awesome opportunity for people who engage in fishing as a sport to stay busy. When you know the right catfish fishing techniques, you can be sure of going back home with a catch without exposing yourself to danger.

In this guide, you will get proven tips on how to catch catfish in lakes and rivers.

Best Time to Catch Catfish

When it comes to catfish fishing, timing is everything. The seasons determine the temperature of the water which, in turn, determine how active the catfish are.

For instance, cormorant catfish and blue catfish are most active during winter. Therefore, that’s the best time to go hunting for them.

On the other hand, channel catfish spawn more during the summer. At this time, you are likely to catch them in rivers and lakes.

Fall is the time for trophy catfish.

Generally, catfish set out to hunt and feed during spring. This makes spring another perfect season for catfish fishing.

There is really no bad season for catfish fishing as there is a type of catfish that will be most active in every season. However, you should know the type of catfish you wish to catch.

Catfish usually hunt in the dark as this is the time when their sight is most enhanced. Therefore, if you are going catfish fishing during the dark, the fish can easily see your line. So, how will you catch them? And this brings us to our first catfish fishing technique; the bait.

The Best Catfish Bait

To catch the different catfish species, you will need to use various baits.

Catfish are attracted to strong odor and something that is physically alluring to them. But even with this, you should have an idea of their fishing ground and the species available.

Some of the best catfish bait items include chicken, herring, dip and punch baits, turkey livers and gizzards.

You cannot tell which bait will help you catch catfish. Therefore, you should experiment with different baits.

Most catfish, except for some rare species, will eat almost anything they get hold of. Therefore, you are likely to catch some catfish as long as you have an interesting lure for bait.

How to Catch Catfish in Lakes and Rivers

Below are some catfish fishing techniques that will help you catch the fish in lakes and rivers.

  • Go on Current Breaks on Rivers

You can easily catch catfish on river banks, especially during current breaks, i.e.,  when the fish take a break from the current. Catfish tend to hunt during the break when the other fish are resting. You will need a GPS fish finder to plan your fishing route.

TIP: Find the break and cast your line there to increase your chances catching catfish.

  • Find a Flat Sinker

To increase your chances of catching catfish, your bait should stay at or closer to the bottom of the water. Here, you will need a flat sinker since it resists the current.

If you are fishing from a boat, try different techniques while anchoring to get the flat sinker to the bottom. The more you perfect your anchoring skills and line positioning, the greater your chances of catching catfish.

  • Get Your Timing Down

Timing is critical when looking to catch catfish in a river or lake. The perfect time for getting a catch is when the sun is going down. Catfish have a clearer vision in low light and, therefore, come out to hunt when darkness is setting in. As they are aggressively hunting, you would be in a better position to lure them to your bait.

  • Use One Rod at a Time

Patience is key if you want to catch catfish. As a beginner, you should use one rod at a time. You will take longer to learn how to catch catfish if you start off with multiple rods. As you become more skillful, you can increase the number of rods you use at a time.

  • Fish Near Cover

A well-guarded trick cat fishermen know is to find a cover when fishing. Use surrounding trees, rocks or stamps for cover. Also, keeping your bait close to these covers can help you get a catch faster. When fishing near a cover, you are less likely to scare catfish away. This means they will easily emerge from their hiding and present themselves to you.

  • Use a Circle Hook

A circle hook is perfect for catfishing since you don’t need to set the hook. However, when a catfish grabs a circle hook, it is immediately trapped into it.

A circle hook is perfect for training beginners and kids how to fish.

  • Bring a Carolina Rig

Another item that comes in handy when catfish fishing is a Carolina Rig. The rig maintains the location of the bait and makes it more unrestricted and palatable. Moreover, it prevents the line from being snagged.

A Carolina rig is perfect for angling and can also be used to tie leader lines.

  • Free and Controlled Drifts

Controlled or free drifts allow you to put more baits into the water, making it easier for catfish to find them. Drifts also allow you to experiment with different types of baits to improve your chances of catching a catfish.

After determining which bait attracts catfish the most, you can use it more regularly to get a catch every time.

  • Go into Deep Water Structures with Currents

Deepwater structures like debris, docks and logs always have currents. These structures are, therefore, lucrative fishing spots. You can use a portable fish finder to locate these spots. The fish finder will also help you locate deep holes, ledges and other hiding places where schools of catfish could be hiding.

  • Be Confident

Train your brain to believe you will go home with a catch. This will improve your confidence and attention when fishing. Even on the days when you don’t catch anything, remind yourself that you will get a catch. Keep your focus, learn your fishing grounds well, and apply various catfish fishing techniques.

What to Bring on Your Catfishing Trip

There are some must-have items you should have when going catfish fishing. These include:

  • Terminal tackle, including circle hooks

The best hooks for reeling in catfish are circle hooks. The hooks give you a better chance of catching the fish. When a fish swallows the hook, it can’t remove it.

Confirm that circle hooks are in your tackle box before setting off on your fishing adventure.

  • A 6-7-foot medium heavy spinning rod, with at least a 14-pound abrasion-resistant monofilament

After getting your catfish hooked, you’ll need it to stay in place. Catfish can be quite heavy and, therefore, you need a heavy monofilament.

The heavier the monofilament, the tougher it will be to break. The minimum weight monofilament will work most times, but this is not a guarantee.

  • Long-nose pliers to remove the hooks

After getting your catch, you will need to remove the hook from the mouth of the catfish without it getting messy. A long nose needle plier will be handy here. Circle hooks are complicated to remove and require specialized tools.

  • Net for landing fish

After getting a catch, you need something that can hold them. A net will help you pull big fighter catfish from the water and store it correctly.

  • Boat (if necessary) or a shore-style rod holder

Your hands can get exhausted when fishing the whole day. Reeling in a catfish with exhausted hands can be challenging. With a rod holder, you can relax and only get into action when you detect a potential catch.

  • Live or smelly bait

When baiting fish, you are trying to attract their attention. You can use live bait, such as minnows and warms, to lure the fish to your line. If your line goes further down than where the fish are swimming, they will be more attracted to it.


Fishing is an exciting sport but catfish fishing takes adrenaline rush to the next level. To be successful in catfish fishing, you should time correctly and learn the fishing ground well. Positioning yourself near the places where catfish hide, such as along the shore, within tree lines or under docks or rocks, will give you a better shot of going home with a catch.

When it comes to reeling your catfish, locating the perfect fishing spot is crucial. You also need the right equipment, including bait and other tools.

Investing in a good fish finder makes a huge difference when going catfish fishing. This fishing gadget will give you better control of your favorite productive spots and increase the likelihood of going home with a catch.

Editor’s Note: This guest post was provided by Kevin Harter from The Content Bear. I’ve been using TCB to ease the workload of creating content for some of my websites. Check out their Amazon content writing service for more information.

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