How to Catch a Catfish
Catfishing is one of the most popular recreational activities in North America. There is no shortage of anglers who wish to trophy hunt Catfish for pictures. Not to forget, the thrill of catching a massive fish with a mere fishing rod. Fortunately, Catfish are available almost everywhere in America and Canada.
You will be glad to know that the state of California permits you to catch a maximum of 10 Catfish in a day. The rules and regulations on Catfish hunting in Missouri are more specifically mentioned. In Missouri, an angler can legally catch 5 Bluefin Catfish, 10 Channel Catfish, and 5 Flathead Catfish.
No matter which part of the North American peninsula you are located in, Catfish are available almost everywhere in a lake or a river. You will be surprised to find out that some species of Catfish also live in muddy mangroves. They prefer to hide beneath a solid structure such as rocks, tree branches, and other debris found in the bottom of a waterbody.
What are the Types of Catfish? Where to Find?
There are several species of Catfish available out there, but not all species are edible. The US Wildlife Department identifies some as toxic. In this post, I have shared the ones that are safe to consume.
1. Blue Catfish- Ictalurus Furcatus
Blue Catfish is the largest species of Catfish. It is categorized as game fish and hunted just for its delicious meat. They can grow up to 65-inch in length and weigh about 150 lb. Despite the rise in Catfishing, the population of Blue Catfish continues to grow in states such as Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Whether you live near the east or west coast, you will never run out of Blue Catfish.
2. Channel Catfish- Ictalurus Punctatus
Channel Catfish, also known as “channel-cat” is found mainly in freshwater reserves like lakes, ponds, and rivers in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee. According to data by Wikipedia, a Channel Catfish is the most sought after fish in the North American region. Each year, around 8 million people head out to catch Channel Catfish.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service department is quite lenient when it comes to distributing hunting tags for Channel Catfish. There are growing concerns among the wildlife experts that Channel Catfish might endanger other freshwater fish species in the country.
Channel Catfish are ferocious creatures. When left alone, they outcompete native ﬁshes for habitat and food. Also, they prefer to live in rivers and streams with clean and well-oxygenated water. A healthy and well-fed Channel Catfish can grow as long as 52-inches.
3. Flathead Catfish- Pylodictis Olivaris
Flathead Catfish is popularly known as “mudcat.” The population of this species of Catfish has reached its peak. As a result, the US Fish and Wildlife Service department has encouraged its hunting. This fish is found everywhere from the Northern parts of Canada to Mexico.
A Flathead Catfish possesses whisker-like barbels around their mouth. Also, the head is flatter and broader in relation to other species of Catfish. They prefer to live in deep and muddy waters, especially when there are no secondary channels available for protection. Their olive-colored skin helps them camouflage perfectly with the seaweed and kelp where they live.
Some Tips for Baiting a Catfish
When it comes to baiting a Catfish, you must implement the tried and tested old-school methods. Catfish are attracted to live bait. Channel Catfish are the easiest to catch as they are drawn to stinky baits like rotten meat.
However, the same strategy won’t work so well with Blue or Flathead Catfish. Chicken or Turkey liver is the most popular bait for Blue and Flathead Catfish.
How to Catch a Catfish
Chad Ferguson explains (in a YouTube video) how Catfishing in winters, fall, or spring is way easier than in summers. The low temperature of the water makes the Catfish more active, and hence, they are more hungry. On the other hand, warm water can make them lazy. In summers, they are uninterested in biting the bait. It would be best if you manage your expectations accordingly.
Either way, the steps mentioned below will help you catch a Catfish with a spinning rod and 20-25 lb fishing line.
To make Catfishing effortless and easy, it is imperative that you have the best tackle in your toolbox. You must have the following equipment ready and prepared.
- Graphite fishing rod
- Spinning reel
- Fishing line
- Offset circle hook
- Natural bait
It is always easier to catch Catfish from a fishing boat, but with the right tackle, you can be equally productive standing on the bank or the shore.
- Tie the offset circle hook to a 20-25 lb fishing line and attach it to the fishing rod.
- Make sure you cut off the excess line with a pair of scissors.
Further, medium or medium-light action is good enough for average-sized Channel Catfish. For Blue Catfish or Flathead Catfish, a medium-heavy action would suffice.
As I mentioned earlier, rotten meat (preferably dead fish) makes good bait for Channel Catfish. For Blue Catfish or Flathead Catfish, you can go for chicken or turkey liver.
- Cut a small piece of bait and attach firmly to the hook.
- To prevent the Catfish from getting away, run the hook through the center of the bait.
- Make sure the hook’s pointy end is exposed and not hidden beneath the skin of the meat.
Finally, toss the hook in the water and wait for Catfish to bite the bait. Assuming you are not using a fish finder, I would suggest trying out many different spots to find the most productive one.
Catfishing is one of the fastest-growing sports in North America. Once you become good at it, you can take this hobby to another level. Participate in tournaments and meet like-minded people who are equally passionate about Catfishing.