Catfish are indigenous to the continental USA and like still water. They love to lie at the bottom. They love smelly bait but will take the live bait as well. They are scavengers and will eat just about anything.
You may catch Catfish year round but the best temperature for catching catfish is between 50 and 80 degrees with 70 degress being the optimal. We like to fish for Cats at night when the wind is still. Catfish will grow on average to 10-15 pounds but can get 50lbs or better.
Catfish have stiff dorsal and side fins. Be Careful they can puncture you and cause real PAIN!
Fish at night and be quiet. Catfish seem to sense noise more than most fish. Be careful not to shine your light on the water. Catfish don’t strike like most fish, so be patient. Let them take the bait, wait up to 10 seconds then set the hook. Be sure you are ready becuase a big cat can put up a heck of a fight. The bigs ones can fray a line quickly, so use sturdy line or a steel leader. As a rule of thumb fish in deeper water during the day and shallower at night.
Now that you have the bait, you are ready to pick a technique that works well for you and your location. My personal favorite is commonly known as jugging. The jug lines can be made before your fishing trip and stored in some out-of-the-way place until needed. For each of the jug lines, you will need one hook, one weight, and one piece of strong line of varying lengths. Next, you will need plastic jugs. I prefer the gallon size milk jugs, but any plastic jug will work, just be certain that they are clean and kind to the environment. If you find it necessary, the jugs can be sprayed with paint so they can be more easily seen and identified. OK, let’s go catfishing.
Pick your spot carefully and drop the anchor. If you are in a large river, a long straight stretch is a must so that your jugs have a long way to travel before a curve interferes. Tie your line to the jug and drop it overboard so that the current will keep the line tight. Bait the hook and gently drop it into the water. Do as many jugs this way as you can take care of, then raise the anchor and drift along behind.
There is nothing more exciting than seeing a gallon jug take off in a direction and at a speed that could not be caused by the current. This is when the real fun begins. Start your engine and speed toward the escaping jug and hope that it does not go under for a very long time. You may also find it helpful to make a long pole with a large hook attached to one end to catch the line on the jug.
For those who prefer to stay high and dry, there is the bank-pole method. This is a great way to get plenty of exercise, as it requires a substantial amount of walking, running, and bending. This method requires a number of cane poles that can be harvested along the streams where they grow. It is important to let them dry and season for one year after they are cut, and it is equally important to keep them straight while drying.
They can be tied together in bundles and hung outside on a shed to season. When the poles are ready, tie a strong line near the base and wrap it around the pole to the top. This gives added support to the pole and insures that you will have another way to hold on in case the pole breaks. Wrap several feet of the line around the end so that you can adjust the length of the line to accommodate for different depths. You can also tie a small white strip of cloth to the end to help with visibility. OK, let’s go cat fishing.
Pick your spot carefully. A dirt or mud bank is essential to hold your poles. Adjust the line length so that when your pole is in place the hook is off the bottom. Stick the base of the pole deep into the bank so that the tip is hanging over the water. Bait your hook and gently toss it into the water. Do as many poles as you can take care of. For night fishing, a bell can be added to the tip of the pole. A variation of this method is called limb-lines. Do the same only use limber limbs of bushes or small trees that are growing on the bank. Trotlines are also an effective way to catch large catfish. The factory made ones are fine and the only things you might need to change are the hooks.
When the day is done and the fish are cleaned, be sure to use one of our favorites recipes to cook you catch.