I first started fishing catfish in my early childhood with my dad and though I have caught some Blue, and Flathead Catfish, Channel Catfish have always been my main target. I primarily fish them in the Snake and St.Croix Rivers and sometimes the Mississippi too. Wherever I can find a little nook and cranny where the current isn’t so fast there always seem to be catfish hiding looking for some fresh bait. Catfish can also be found wherever you can find a rocky bottom to.
The best time to catch catfish is usually after dark until early morning right before the sun comes up, and they always seem to be the most active around a full moon. Catfish also like to hang out in holes where the water is a little deeper. Again, anywhere the current is a little slower and a place where food might gather is great place to find catfish.
Some other Catfish Fishing tips that I have used over the years are how I rig my pole. Now this is fairly basic. I like to use a medium sized pole about 7 to 8 feet long with about 17 to 20 pound test line. Some prefer 50 or 60 pound test but the lighter line has always worked best for me because I have found it is just easier to deal with when tying hooks or getting your line out of snags. The main reason I use a lighter line is that your catfish is much less likely to notice any friction with lighter line compared to a heavier line. I like to fight the fish a little too, with a heavier line its to easy just to drag the fish in which I believe takes the sport and excitement out of it.
As far as hooks go I have always just used a smooth, medium sized hook, with no barbells on it. Catfish have very tough skin and I rarely loose a catfish after I have hooked them so you won’t need a trebble hook or any special kind of hook for Catfishing. Before I put my hook on I always just slide one slip sinker on with the size of it going by how fast the river current is, and then one clip on sinker or a swivel to keep your sinker away from your bait. I like to put the sinker about 2 feet away from the bait so your bait can float and move around in the river current.
One last Catfishing tip I will give you here is in filleting them correctly. This is very important if you want to get the best flavor out of your Catfish. I will put the Catfish on its stomach and then start with the tip of the knife right behind its head next to its spine and then slowly start slicing downwards until the fillet comes off. Then just cut your fillet off the skin. Now this part most of you probably already know as it is the same as most other fish. This is the important part. After you have your fillet in front of you there will be a yellowish strip running down the middle of the meat with a little bit of red on top of the fillet. This needs to be cut out or your Catfish will taste mushy and lose a lot of its flavor so don’t forget. I also like to cut the head meat out of the larger ones usually at least 15 pounds, this is the whitest and best part of the Catfish. And prepare some homemade tartar sauce for a great meal with the whole family.