My catfishing tactics and catfishing techniques: How to catch Catfish from shore
Of the 2 main fish I fish for, Catfish is the number 1 I fish for. Why you might ask? Is it the ease of catching them? No, Catfish are fighters and just as hard to find as bass. A small 2 pound catfish can fight harder then a 3 to 4 pound Bass. Catching them takes as much in techniques and tactics as fishing for bass.
Catfish are resourceful and wily. They will hunt for live food as well as dead or dying food, and as they get older even learn to avoid hooks. (Then you have to be even more wily then they are.) They can grow upto 100+ pounds and taste real good cooked in a variety of ways.
Some people think they are just scavenger fish, bottom feeders – sorry but, no, they do hunt for prey like crawdads, shiners (shad), small to medium perch and anything they can get in their mouths. They are mainly ambush fish, meaning they sit very still most of the time in moving water and wait for a meal of opportunity to come by. They will swim to hunt as well and, yes, they will eat other dead or dying fish. They are not like Carp, though, in that they do not eat other fishes’ “excrements” and leavings. Catfish may be bottom feeders but they do have their standards.
I have two ways I fish for catfish that I am going to explain here in more detail below.
They are the ways I have fished for catfish my whole life and they work well for me so they might work for you too. They can take time to refine and I usually use them at the same time but not in the same spot. One way is from shore the other and for me the best way is from a boat.
Having the right gear is important. Having gear the will hold up to the riggers of fighting the big one is vital.
There is one place that can fill most, if not all, your catfishing gear needs.
Amazon Catfish Fishing Gear
Cat Fishing with a Rod and Reel on shore.
Catfish love crawdads, shad and cut bait.
All of this first part is for on shore fishing. I would rather have a boat but I don’t right now. I have had one in the past and will, somehow, have another soon in the future.
I know of people who have even caught catfish on a lure. I never have, but I don’t doubt them either. I have caught them when I was fishing for strippers 60 foot down in 100 feet of water on fresh shiners (shad), so I do believe that they will go for a lure if it passed by them.
When I fish for catfish I’ll have up to 4 poles out at the same time. I’ll put different types of bait on each one at first. Two of them I’ll throw straight from me and the other two go out at angles, one right and one left.
One of the things to learn is to read the waters to tell if there is a channel or drop off or if you are only on flats. Most times I am close to correct on what is there by “reading the contours” of the shore line but I do check it out as well by wading out in the water. So don’t be afraid to walk out in the water to feel what is there.
Just be careful of where you step. Use a walking stick to feel in front of you if you need to. Wear wading shoes to save your feet from rocks and glass. (There are fools who think it is OK to just throw trash in the water.) This way you know if you are on flats or if there is a drop off.
If you see darker waters then it is most likely a drop off, and you want to try to get the lines on the other side of the drop off. Catfish like to sit down in the trough at the edge to surprise any food that comes by and they will move around some there as well.
Let things sit for 45 minutes to one hour, then change up by changing out baits or where the bait sits. Maybe you need to put one or two on top of (just before) the drop off (if there is one). You may want to have one close to shore. When you get hits, you may want to change one or two more to the same bait to see if you get hits on those as well.
Now most time catfish don’t play around. They will just take the bait whole and run, hooking themselves. However, when they are not really hungry or just starting to hunt, they will play with it and you have to hook them just as they jerk the line.
If you are on flats you may want to fish one of two ways.
One is to bottom fish. Put your weight at the end of the line and at about 18 inches above that put the hook on a clip. Cast out and set the pole in a Y-shaped stick or get a pre-made pole stake that you push in the ground. You want the tip of the pole to be between 30° to 45° from the ground. Reel the line in until it is taut (no slack) but do not move the weight. This will lift the hook from 6 to 10 inches off the bottom and let your bait dangle down if you have live bait it can move some and this is good and attractive to fish. Even cut bait or dead shrimp will sway in the water some.
A pole straight up like this is not very useful most times. When you have a bobber just above the hook this can allow you to take some slack out though.
This is the angel you want most times. If you don’t have a wall like James did here you’ll need rod holders or a stick with a “Y” in it to hold your rods.
The other way is to put a small dark bobber about a foot above the same rig so it will hold just the hook up. Make sure the weight is heavy enough to sink the bobber with no problems. Then you reel in the extra line, the same as above, but after you get it taut (no slack and this is where having the pole straight up works better to see the line.) you release the line so it lays on top of the water. When the catfish takes the bait you will know – the line will jump and run. Then you just have to set the hook.
A taut line is most Important to tell when the catfish hit and to keep the bait up off the bottom without a bobber.
Catfish fishing rod and reels.
A heavy rod for a heavy and fighting fish.
I have found that having a stout pole for catfishing is important. Those poles for 3 to 5 pound bass just won’t cut it when you hook a 5 or more pound catfish. I have had poles snap and the reels strip when I have used them to bring in the BIG Cats.
You can’t go wrong with this rod and reel.
ZebcoCatFishFighter Fishing Rod and 808/C702MH Reel Combo
I have this Combo and have used it for years. I have had no problems with it. The bait alert sounds off loud enough for me to hear at night from a good distance away. I have even used it for trolling.
Cast Nets: How to catch catfish bait.
Cast nets give you free bait
I always carry a cast net with me for catching live bait. Since I learned to throw one it has saved me $100’s in bait cost. Whether I am on shore or in a boat, I usually have two nets with me. One I use is a cheap (inexpensive) 3.5 to 4 footer that I am not worried about tearing up if it gets in brush. The other is a hand made 8 footer that I use more from the boat but still have on shore just in case.
Cast Nets can save you a boatload of money in live bait over time. You can even catch bait fish to use as cut bait and have guts for blood bait as well. After I learned how to use a cast net and found out how easy it is to get bait, now the only bait I buy any more is worms and shrimp.
When it comes to cast nets an inexpensive net is all you really need.
Good quality and inexpensive cast nets at Amazon
How to catch crawdads with a cast net.
To catch crawdads (the best catfish bait) with a cast net, you tie a piece of bacon in to a loose ball with a weight under it and set it in 1 to 3 foot of water. Bacon attracts bait fish and crawdads with the grease it secretes. Have a bobber with just enough line to float above it as a marker. Let it sit for about 30 to 45 minutes. You do have to watch it as some times a catfish or even a bass will try to take it.
When it comes time – and this is where you have to be good at but not great at hitting your mark with a cast net – take your net and cast it over the bobber. You should (I do most times) catch crawdads from small to the largest and you will also get perch (another great bait for catfish) and other small bait fish to use for live bait and for cut bait.
Final thoughts on bank Catfishing
Catfish Oh How I love to fish for them.
The best baits I have found for catfish are crawdads and and other natural fish that live in the lake or river they live in. Yes, you can catch catfish with shrimp, warms, bloodbait, bacon, or stinkbait. However, they really go for the food they know and are most familiar with. There are times they will goto town after the other baits as well, so I do make sure I have at least worms and shrimp with me when I go catfishing.
Don’t be afraid to modify your approach to fishing for any type of fish. A slight tweak to what you have been doing for years can make a world of difference on how much or how little you catch. If something doesn’t seem to work and you have given it a reasonable amount of time, then go back to what you have been doing. Try something else new. Fishing tactics and techniques can be hard to learn so give them some time, though these are pretty simple.
You might like these two fishing stories as well: Gone fishing my stories.
Photo: By Hadal at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
All other Photos take by my son James and belong to doug48 on…