ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Catch Freshwater Catfish

Updated on January 5, 2013

Catfishing

Catching catfish is one of the most enjoyable forms of freshwater fishing. In North America, catfish are found in a variety of habitats including rivers, creeks, ponds, and reservoirs.

In North America, each region has a unique combination of catfish species. Catfish are common throughout the Mississippi River drainage, Northern Plains, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Gulf of Mexico states.

In addition to populations of native catfish, several species have been introduced outside their historical ranges.

Types of Catfish


North America is home to dozens of species of catfish, ranging from a few inches in length to monsters that often exceed 100 pounds.

Although small in size, bullheads are among the most popular catfish species. North American anglers are likely to encounter black, brown, or yellow bullheads. Each species of bullhead has a unique range and set of distinguishing features. Bullheads are easy to catch and larger individuals are suitable for cooking.


Another small to mid-sized species is the white catfish. This species is often mistaken for other catfish. The white catfish can be identified by its humped back, moderately forked tail, and white chin barbels (whiskers). White cats are often caught together with bullheads, channel cats, and other species.


The most popular American catfish species is the channel catfish. These sleek fish are found in a wide range of habitats throughout the continent. Their adaptability makes them popular for stocking in publicly managed impoundments.


Channel catfish are easier to distinguish than some species. Small to mid-sized fish are marked with spots which helps to identify them. Their deeply-forked tail also helps distinguish them from some species.


Channel catfish are popular for a number of reasons. Like other species, they take baits fished on the bottom. They also take artificial lures and are often caught by bass fishermen and other lure casters.


For anglers in search of trophy catfish, two species are popular. Both blue catfish and flathead catfish grow to monstrous proportions. These heavyweight fish are caught with a variety of cut and live baits. They are also taken by noodling or other alternative fishing techniques.

Baits For Catching Catfish

Catfish can be caught with live and cut baits, as well as artificial lures. Although anglers often cite a preferred bait for a given species, most baits will work on a range of species.


The list of popular catfish baits includes nightcrawlers, hellgrammites, crickets, crayfish, minnows, and other natural baits. A number of food items are also known to be effective, including chicken livers, shrimp, cheese, dough, and others.


When targeting catfish, some anglers prefer "stinkbaits." As the name implies, stinkbaits give off a strong odor. These baits include store-bought products as well as home-made baits. Stinkbait recipes often include chicken parts, fish, cheese, bread, oils, garlic, and other ingredients.


Some catfish extremists not only concoct foul-smelling baits, but insist on allowing the mixture to rot for several days, which increases the potency considerably. Regardless of the recipe, catfish stinkbaits are usually affixed to the hook with a small piece of mesh or other material.

Best Artificial Lures for Catching Catfish


Occasionally, anglers prefer to fish for catfish with artificial lures. Although less common, this technique has a number of advantages. For example, artificial lures can be useful when targeting large catfish that occur together with smaller fish. In other cases, lures may be selected in order to catch a variety of fish species during a single outing.


Soft plastics are popular in most situations. These include worm bodies, grubs, slug-baits, crawfish imitations, and other shapes. Scent-impregnated bodies are usually preferred when available.


Other proven catfish lures usually resemble forage species or seasonal foods. Depending on location, season, and other factors, these might include crankbaits, frog lures, jigs, spinners, or other designs.


Alternative Fishing


Catfish are often taken by alternative fishing methods. Alternative fishing specialists set aside rod and reel, choosing instead to use non-conventional techniques to take fish. Alternative fishing methods include trotlining, jug fishing, bush bobs, bowfishing, noodling, gigging, spear-fishing, and others. In most areas, alternative fishing methods are subject to strict regulations.


Catfish Poll

What is your favorite catfish species?

See results

How To Clean Catfish

Catfish are easy to clean, although care should be taken to avoid contact with their spines. Prior to cleaning, catfish should be rinsed thoroughly with cool water to remove excess slime. Most anglers choose to skin the catfish and then remove the fillets. To skin catfish, carefully cut the skin behind the head. continue cutting the skin along the outline of the fish, working back to the tail. After the skin has been cut, it can be peeled back to the tail. After the skin has been removed, the fish can be filleted with a sharp fillet knife.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Alberic O profile image

      Alberic O 

      5 years ago from Any Clime, Any Place

      Cool article. Channel cats are fun. I catch them using anchovies or ghost shrimp. They are fun to fish off a float tube because the big ones pull you.

    • flash167 profile image

      Marty Andersen 

      5 years ago from Salina, Utah

      I really enjoy the hard pull that catfish have when you catch them. They are great eating with a somewhat nutty flavor.

      One of the things I really like about catfish is that you don't have to gut them, just fillet them out and you're ready to cook your catch.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)