Catfish fish are easily distinguishable by their whisker-like barbel, which is used for their navigation and hunting prey. Moreover, different types of catfish can be carnivorous or herbivorous. Thus, a wide range of animals, plants and food items can serve as catfish fishing bait. These include everything from shrimp to worms.


The best catfish fish spots in North America are in the southeastern rivers and lakes of the U.S. like the Mississippi River and Lake Ozark. In general, these fish have become a widespread species in freshwater and even saltwater habitats. Other catfish fishing locations include Africa, Europe and South America, where different types of catfish have distinctive attributes. For example, in Africa, the giraffe species can breathe with limited oxygen. To get the best catfish fishing tips and learn about appropriate lures, read the sections below.

What are the best fishing rods for catching catfish?

Most catfish fish are large and heavy freshwater species. Thus, these fish require anglers to use rods that can withstand their size and weight. For instance, fishing rods constructed of lightweight materials are not recommended for catfish fishing. Instead, rods must be at least of medium weight for an effective experience catching this species. Generally, the following rods should be taken into consideration:

  • Casting rods – A traditional casting rod can withstand lines and lures that are large enough to entice, hook and reel in catfish. Thus, this type of rod can be an affordable and efficient tool for catfish fishing.
  • E-glass and S-glass rods – An E-glass rod is a resistant and affordable tool that yields the catching of heavier types of catfish fish. Additionally, this rod is widely considered a durable piece of equipment. Moreover, an S-glass rod is similar to an E-glass rod, but is made of superior and even more durable materials. However, an S-glass rod is typically much more expensive in comparison.
  • Composite rods – Composite rods are on the higher end of the cost spectrum. These rods combine the durability of an S-glass rod with the materials that enable graphite rods to be lightweight.

What are the best fishing reels for catching catfish?

Catfish fishing reels must be appropriately paired with the rods that fishing enthusiasts will use. Thus, anglers should use casting rods with casting reels, whereas spinning reels are recommended for spinning rods. In any case, the following specifications must be taken into consideration when assessing a reel:

  • Drag system – Large catfish fish require anglers to use a reel with a sturdy and sophisticated drag system, which is the reel’s brake pad. For instance, bait cast reels have drag systems that can withstand reeling in a fish of medium weight.
  • Line capacity – Long-distance catfish fishing requires reels that can hold a substantial amount of heavy fishing lines. Thus, an angler’s catfish fishing gear must include a reel with significant line capacity.

What are the best fishing lures for catching catfish?

Some of the best catfish fishing lures are those that entice this species through scents, vibrations or movements. However, catfish fish are not particularly known for being a picky species of fish when it comes to lures. Thus, anglers can choose from a wide variety of options, such as:

  • Jigs – Jigs shaped like insects, worms or small fish can yield successful catches during catfish fishing.
  • Scented lures – A catfish has an advanced sense of smell. Thus, using scented artificial lures can be a fitting strategy to catch this species.
  • Soft plastic – Anglers on a budget can use affordable catfish fishing lures that are made of plastic.

What are the best fishing baits for catching catfish?

Crustaceans, insects, mollusks, small fish and worms are some examples of catfish fish bait that anglers can use. In general, live baits are considered more effective than artificial lures. Thus, analyzing what catfish fish eat can help anglers determine which live baits are well-suited for catching these fish. Consider the following types of bait to add to your catfish fishing gear:

  • Crustaceans – Crustaceans are generally well-suited baits due to their strong scent. Thus, crabs, crayfish and shrimp are saltwater species that serve as optimal live baits for catfish.
  • Insects – Catfish fish often feed on insects such as grasshoppers and crickets, which makes them great live baits.
  • Mollusks – Mussels, clams and snails are some examples of mollusks that can serve as bait in order to lure catfish.
  • Small fish – Catfish are considered opportunistic predators. Thus, they feed on scraps of small fish after they were attacked by other more voracious predators. For that reason, anglers can use pieces of small fish as catfish fish bait in order to entice this species.
  • Worms – Worms such as leeches and nightcrawlers are commonly used by anglers to lure catfish into being hooked.

What are the best fishing hooks for catching catfish?

Catfish fishing hooks must be sharp in order to effectively penetrate the mouths of these fish. Thus, anglers must consider the following types of hooks when attempting to catch catfish:

  • Treble hooks – Channel catfish are more susceptible to getting hooked by a treble hook than by any other type. These hooks have three shanks, which yield a firmer penetration through a catfish’s mouth.
  • Circle hooks – Circle hooks are standard circular hooks that work very effectively with blue types of catfish fish and when paired with live bait. In general, a medium-sized circle hook is considered optimal for the catching of catfish.

What are the best fishing lines for catching catfish?

Anglers must use sturdy fishing lines to reel in catfish fish, which typically have a medium weight. Thus, consider adding the following lines to your catfish fishing gear:

  • Braided lines – Braided lines can cut through fast-moving waters and sustain the weight of catfish. Thus, these lines are required for catfish fishing in rivers with strong currents.
  • Monofilament lines – Bottom-dwelling types of catfish fish require anglers to use monofilament lines. These are lines suitable for deep waters, which can be particularly effective for blue and flathead catfish.

Is it easy to catch catfish?

A catfish fish is generally considered an easy to catch species. In general, even the larger types of catfish fish, such as the flathead species, are known for being easily caught. Thus, a catfish is a well-suited fish for children and beginners to gain more experience and skill. In addition, several catfish fishing lures are capable of enticing these fish.

As a consequence, many experienced anglers consider catfish fishing an unchallenging activity. However, most recreational fishing enthusiasts deem this species an optimal catch for a family-friendly experience.

What should you wear to go catfish fishing?

Fishing is an activity that generally takes place over an extended period of time. For that reason, catfish fishing tips concerning apparel are essential to the enjoyment and effectiveness of an angler’s experience. For instance, fishing enthusiasts must make sure that they are protected from accidents or harsh weather. Thus, be mindful of the following considerations when attempting to catch catfish fish safely:

  • Life jackets – Boat-related accidents may result in individuals falling into the water and needing assistance to stay afloat. Thus, all anglers are encouraged to wear life jackets when fishing from a motorized or non-motorized boat. Moreover, this recommendation is particularly relevant to inexperienced swimmers, children and the elderly.
  • Rain gear – Harsh weather such as heavy rain can happen often in certain catfish fish spots. Therefore, fishing enthusiasts should wear water-resistant apparel such as rain jackets and boots or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) bibs.
  • Sunscreen – All individuals engaged in outdoor activities are encouraged to wear sunscreen and/or UV-protective apparel in order to be protected from the sun. In general, extended exposure to the sun can cause skin damage, regardless of the season anglers find themselves in.

Where can I catch catfish?

Catfish fishing is a very popular activity in the United States. However, other catfish fishing locations around the world are home to different types of catfish that may interest anglers. Thus, the most popular catfish fishing spots in the world include:

  • North America – Blue, channel and flathead catfish are considered the “big three” species found in North America. Moreover, all three species inhabit freshwater habitats. However, saltwater types of catfish fish can also be found in the region. For instance, marine catfish inhabit the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys.
  • Africa – Lakes and rivers across Africa house a wide variety of catfish that are not found in North America. Additionally, some of these catfish have distinctive abilities to breathe even in very shallow waters.
  • Europe – The region between Greece and Macedonia is home to the Aristotle’s catfish.
  • South America – Various catfish species inhabit South American freshwater habitats and coastal regions. Thus, catfish fishing in South America can also be considered a saltwater activity.

Which types of habitats can I find catfish in?

Generally, catfish fishing varies according to each region, angler and species. However, the following catfish fish spots are habitats where this species is commonly found:

  • Rivers – Most blue catfish fish inhabit rivers. Moreover, these fish swim upstream during summer to look for cooler waters, and take the opposite journey during winter to search for warmer waters. In addition, flathead catfish are often found in slow-moving rivers.
  • Lakes – Channel and flathead catfish inhabit large and deep lakes, where they tend to feed on scraps of food that have fallen to the ground.
  • Coastal areas – Certain channel catfish can be found in saltwater habitats, such as coastal areas. Additionally, marine types of catfish fish predominantly inhabit coasts around the southeastern region of the United States.

Are there different types of catfish?

Freshwater habitats typically house the three main types of catfish fish, which are the blue, channel and flathead species. Conversely, certain types of catfish are also found in saltwater habitats such as coastal regions. Thus, the following are the most common catfish found in the United States:

  • Blue catfish – Blue catfish are typically found in large rivers, tending to move upstream during summer and downstream during winter. In general, this species is native to the eastern region of the U.S. However, blue catfish have extended their reach to states located in central and western areas as well.
  • Channel catfish – A channel catfish fish is a predominantly freshwater species that can also be found in certain saltwater habitats. In general, these fish can be found in large rivers or lakes of cool and clear waters.
  • Flathead catfish – Flathead catfish generally prefer slow-moving waters in lakes and reservoirs. Additionally, they spawn through most of the summer season, when habitats are exposed to warmer temperatures. Moreover, a flathead catfish can be called a yellow or Mississippi cat.
  • Hardhead catfish – Saltwater types of catfish fish such as the hardhead species can be found in coastal regions around the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys.

Catfish fishing locations around the world yield different species of catfish. The following regions house different variations of catfish in comparison to those found in North America:

  • Africa – Africa is home to the electric, giraffe, North African and upside-down catfish, all of which inhabit freshwater habitats.
  • Europe – The Aristotle’s catfish species can be found in the European region between Greece and Macedonia.
  • South America – Various types of catfish fish inhabit different bodies of water in South America. For instance, the twig, armored, micro, banjo, bronze, leopard and midget suckermouth species can be found in the region.

What do catfish look like?

Catfish fishing yields various types of catfish. Thus, it is important for an angler to recognize which traits make each species distinguishable. Consider the following catfish fishing tips when identifying different species:

  • Blue catfish – A blue catfish is identifiable by its blue-gray color and white underside, as well as its long body and forked tail. Unlike other catfish fish, a blue catfish typically has no dark spots across its body.
  • Channel catfish – Channel catfish are typically smaller in comparison to blue and flathead catfish. However, these fish can still reach a significant size in comparison to other freshwater species. Moreover, channel catfish have deeply forked tails and scattered dark spots across their extension.
  • Flathead catfish – Flathead catfish are large types of catfish fish that have wide and flat heads. Additionally, they are distinguishable for the fact that they do not have a forked tail.
  • Hardhead catfish – Marine catfish are typically smaller than species found in freshwater habitats. For instance, a hardhead catfish is known for its bony head, gray body and white underside.

What do catfish eat?

In general, catfish fish feed on the scraps of food left by other predators. Thus, they are known as opportunistic predators. Moreover, this trait makes catfish mostly bottom-dwelling fish, as they wait for food remains to fall to the ground underwater. The following foods are common examples of what catfish fish eat:

  • Clams
  • Crabs
  • Crayfish
  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Leeches
  • Mussels
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Plants
  • Shrimp
  • Small fish
  • Snails
  • Worms

Are there regulations for catching catfish?

The vast majority of catfish fish inhabit freshwater habitats. Thus, anglers must be mindful of regulations associated with those natural environments. In general, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is responsible for establishing federal guidelines that concern fishing. However, each state has its own governing body that regulates local habitats and the species in them. To learn more about different fishing regulations, click here. Moreover, anglers interested in catfish fishing must be mindful of the following factors:



  • Fishing gear – Certain types of catfish fishing gear may be classified as commercial fishing gear. For instance, recreational anglers in North Carolina cannot use cast nets.
  • Fishing purpose – Recreational and commercial fishing are activities that abide by different regulations and require separate licenses. For that reason, anglers must be mindful of the restrictions placed on recreational fishing in each state. For instance, in Wisconsin, anglers can only catch one flathead catfish per day.
  • Residency status – Non-resident anglers are typically subject to different costs when acquiring a fishing license for catfish fishing. For instance, residents in New York can obtain an annual fishing license for $25. Conversely, nonresidents must pay $50 for a license.

When is catfish season?

The catfish fishing season is typically open on a year-round basis. However, this species is known for being more active during spring, summer and early fall, which are warmer seasons. In addition, certain states may place particular restrictions on catfish fishing practices for each habitat. For instance, anglers in Missouri can catch 20 catfish per day on the Mississippi River, but only 10 per day on Lake Ozark.

Can you eat catfish?

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The three main types of catfish fish, the blue, channel and flathead species, are generally considered edible. However, due to what catfish fish eats, these fish require a thorough cleaning before being cooked and eaten. Moreover, wild-caught catfish fish are not particularly known for a flavorful taste and instead tend to have a muddy flavor.

Commercial catfish fishing is not a popular activity since most catfish sold to markets are raised on catfish farms. Farmed catfish are fed well, which causes their meat to have a mild flavor compared to wild-caught catfish. In addition, farmed catfish are healthier for human consumption.

What are the nutrition facts for catfish?

Different types of catfish fish have varying nutritional value. In general, however, a cooked 3-ounce catfish has the following nutrition facts:

  • 130 calories
  • 6 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat
  • 17 grams of protein
  • 50 milligrams of cholesterol
  • 40 milligrams of sodium

Explore some of the best catfish dishes and recipes by downloading our 10 best catfish recipes guide.

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per 100g
4.8% of Daily Value*
Total Fat 2.82g
Saturated Fat 0.72g
less than 4% of Daily Value
Cholesterol 58mg
Sodium 43mg
Selenium 12.6mcg
Protein 16.38g
* The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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