Catfish Haunts

Can you only find Catfish in the river?

When folks say, “catfish”, everyone gets their mind filled with these idyllic summery images of cane poles, cut-off pants, straw hats, bare feet, and of course, a big ol’ muddy river, slipping lazily by. However, while it’s true that most species of cats can be found in rivers such as I’ve described, here, cats are also distributed throughout many other waterways. The choice of locale is related to the species of catfish in question. Flathead Catfish are particularly well-adapted to muddy river life, and are found extensively throughout the Mississippi River basin, meaning, big, muddy and deep waters, always with a consistent current flowing through. Current speed is actually a major factor in virtually all catfish habitat – still water means no fish, mostly, whatever the species, with the possible exception of tiny Madtoms.

Channel cats and Blue Catfish both share a strong preference for clearer, cleaner water, and so, are better found in clean rivers, or lakes and reservoirs with, you guessed it, a steady current. While these fish will tolerate some “murk” in their home water, this is not the rule, for these species. In all cases, though, these fish like limited levels of light, and so, are going to be found deeper than you might think (often, well over 50 feet), in holes and trenches in the bottom, often carved out by that constant current flow.

So, when you are scouting a spot to do some catfishing, look for cleaner water (except for Flatties), with a smooth, solid current flow, and find the deepest holes in the area, whether you’re river., reservoir or lake fishing. Even better conditions include some rock or wood structure underwater, that the big cats can hide behind (downstream of the structure), to lunge out at their food/prey, as it floats or swims past.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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