Catching A Catfish

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Fishing for catfish is fun! They fight hard, are plentiful and taste great on the dinner table. Catfish are often willing biters! They can be readily caught from the bank as well as from a boat using a simple bait rig. The following is a short guide for catching catfish.


Catfish can thrive in many water systems, from shallow, warm ponds to fast rivers. While different species may like varying habitats, there are general areas that tend to hold catfish.

During the day, look for catfish in muddy water areas, such as a tributary and its outflow. Also good are deep structures, like river bends, the base of drop-offs, deep holes, and humps. Catfish will also hold around cover, like standing timber and deep weed edges.

Night brings excellent fishing. Catfish use their heightened senses of smell and taste, along with their barbels (whiskers) to locate food in the dark. Flats, bars, points, shorelines and weedy areas are common spots to catch prowling cats at night.

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(4) Unique Catfish Baits

Most catfish fisherman use baits like cut baits, chicken livers, night crawlers, shrimp, stink baits and all kinds of home made concoctions. Although these baits are the most commonly used by most catfish hunters, they are generally the most costly, as well.

As the stories of fishermen and their folklore get passed down from generation to generation, the following are some of the most unique catfish baits known to fisherman around the world. You may have already heard of one or two of the following , but these more rare and least costly types of baits may leave you scratching your head!

  • SOAP….. Many catfish fishermen have reported that using Ivory soap is the best! Many other brands of bar soap have strong scents that tend to be less effective because they contain a lot more additives. If you are looking for a cheap and unique bait give ivory soap a try.
  • FRUIT….. Believe it or not, many fruits make a great bait for catfish. The types of fruits can range from apples to bananas to more exotic types of fruits. Persimmons have been suggested as one of the best, though the ripe season for these and accessibility is regionally focused. Hint: Try using a fruit that stays on a hook the best.
  • HOT DOGS…..  make a unique, interesting and highly effective bait for catfish. The chunks of meat are easy to put on a hook and will stay when casting. What attracts catfish to hot dogs is unknown but they seem to be highly effective. Avoid using all beef hot dogs, mainly because they do stay on a hook as well as pork and chicken dogs. They also cost a lot more. Recently I bought an eight pack of chicken/pork hotdogs for $.89 at Walmart. At that rate, just eat what you don’t use for fishing!
  • BUBBLE GUM….. is another unusual, yet popular, choice of baits. The sweet taste of bubble gum is said to attract catfish! Unfortunately, this is one of the more difficult baits to use. Seasoned fishermen know that you can’t simply put a piece of Bazooka gum on the end of a hook without chewing it first. A few minutes of chewing the gum makes it sticky and easier to wrap around a hook.


It doesn’t take much tackle to catch catfish. The following’s a basic kit for small to average-sized fish.

  • A 6- to 7-foot, medium-heavy spinning rod and a reel spooled with 14-pound or stronger abrasion-resistant mono line.
  • Terminal tackle including: 1/0 to 3/0 circle or bait hooks, # 2 to #6 treble hooks, 0.5- to 2-ounce egg sinkers, split shots, #7 to #10 swivels, floats, beads and jig heads
  • Live worms or minnows, cut-bait, or smelly artificial bait, like catfish chunks or dough
  • Boat or shore-style rod holder
  • Net or lip-grip for landing fish
  • A pair of long-nosed pliers for removing hooks


A slip-sinker rig’s a popular set-up given that catfish are often located near bottom. It’s made by threading a sinker on the mainline, then a bead. Next, the mainline is tied to one end of a swivel. On the swivel’s other end is a 1 to 2 foot mono leader, followed by the hook. The rig can be left on bottom or hovered above the bottom when drift fishing moving water.

A float rig’s another option. Simply add a float above the weight on a slip-sinker rig. Use this rig to drift bait slowly through wood-rich catfish lairs or over weed without snagging on bottom or in cover. Drifting a float also helps cover water from the bank.

A jig head (link to the jig head article) tipped with bait will also catch catfish. Lift and drop the jig along bottom. Occasionally holding it still often leads to a bite.

Sometimes catfish hit hard and quick. Other times they play with the bait before taking it fully. When in doubt, set the hook. A common rig-fishing strategy is feeding line to a nibbling catfish, so it won’t feel resistance. When the fish steadily takes line, it’s hook-set time.

Give fishing for catfish a try. Pound-for-pound, these hard-fighting fish serve-up fun days on the water.

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