How to Catch Catfish

Catfish fishing, or catfishing, is a very popular type of fishing. It doesn’t require a lot of money, and you don’t have to have a boat to be successful. Most lakes and rivers hold some type of catfish, whether they're channel catfish, blue catfish, flatheads or bullheads. Below are some tips to keep in mind when trying to catch catfish.

1. Have the right gear. This is true of all types of fishing, but catfish can tear apart your gear if you are not prepared. Here is what I generally bring when I am fishing for catfish.

  • Medium-heavy to heavy rod and reel combo: You can get these relatively cheap. I use and recommend this Shakespeare Ugly Stick Combo, but there are plenty others out there.
  • 17-20 lb. line for my main line, and 30 lb. or more for my leader.
  • Circle hooks
  • Egg sinkers
  • Slip bobbers
  • Barrel swivels
  • Rod holders
  • Chicken livers : You can also catch bream or perch and use them for bait, but I usually just go with the chicken livers. Nightcrawlers work great, too.

This is my main setup, but I might modify it a bit based on the type and size of fish I am going after. This setup works fine if you are targeting fish up to about 20 pounds or so. I usually cut a piece of 12-18 inch 30 lb. line for my leader and tie one end to the hook and the other end to the barrel swivel. I’ll then put my egg sinker on my main line and tie it to the other end of the swivel. I like to use a bead to stand as a buffer between my sinker and swivel, but this is not absolutely necessary.

2. Fish at Night: Catfishing is usually associated with hot summer nights, and for good reason too. At night, catfish move in closer to the shore to feed. This is good news if you are fishing from the bank.

3. Find the Best Location: If you are fishing from the bank you are somewhat limited in your location, but try finding coves, points, or other places that have a bit of structure. These are great places to catfish.

4. Fish the Bottom: In general, catfish feed near the bottom, so this is where you want to present your bait. There are a few different ways to do this. You can use a slip bobber and make a small knot in your line to make sure your bait gets close to the bottom, or you can set up a bottom rig (like the one mentioned above) with the egg sinker.

5. Cast and Relax: Cast out your line and wait for a bite. Be ready, though, because catfish put up a fight. Make sure you set your drag, because if you don’t, you are likely to break your line. It’s best to have a glove and some type of pliers to get the hook when you land the fish.

That's about all you need to get started catfishing. Be ready though, because after you catch your first big cat, you will be hooked!