Five Fishing Tips for Nebraska Catfish

Fishing for catfish in Nebraska is a very popular sport and pastime. This is because there is such a variety of this species in the state that it is difficult to find a river, stream, pond or lake that does not carry at least one variety of this fish. The most popular catfish to angle for are the channel, flathead and blue varieties of the species.
The reason these are so popular is because they are the largest fish of the species and they can be fun to catch while also being a challenge. The following are five fishing tips for Nebraska catfish including the three popular species and baits and techniques to use to catch them:

1. Channel Catfish – Channel cats can get quite large and are mainly found feeding at the bottom of the body of water. They are located in slow moving rivers and all lakes in Nebraska. This particular species of catfish adores live fish as well as crawfish. They stick to areas where this type of food can be found such as rocky sandy bottoms and sunken stumps where the crawfish feed. When fishing for them, choose live baits keeping in mind that the larger the baitfish or crawfish used the larger the channel cat you can catch. This fish does well at all times of the year except during the coldest months and during spawn. Right up to spawning season and right after spawn are the biggest feeding times.

2. Blue Catfish – The blue catfish are one of the few species that are only found in the rivers and running waters of Nebraska. The blue cats can also reach large sizes with the largest catfish caught in America and the record setter being from this genus of catfish. They have a varied diet and eat everything from live bait fish, crawfish, and mollusks to large invertebrates and frogs. The blues feed mostly by smell so you can use a wide variety of baits to entice them to your hook. Live bait, crawfish and stinky baits are great for this fish as well as cut baits and even Ivory soap holds a claim to fame for catching some large blues.

3. Flathead Catfish – This species is the most finicky of all the cats found in Nebraska. They only feed on live bait fish. They are also one of the largest coming second only to the blues. They prefer to lay in wait for their meals to come to them. You can find them at the bottom of rocky out crops and submerged tree trunks and roots. The best bait to use to fish for this cat are shiners and chub. Cut baits or stinky baits do not attract this fish and are a waste of time.

4. Fishing Techniques – As stated previously, each species of fish listed above are considered bottom feeders which means that they do not go to the surface to eat. You need to be able to have a rig that can withstand the weight of the sinker that allows the bait to reach the bottom of the water. It is also vital that you have a line that has the test strength to handle the weight of the sinker plus the sheer size and weight of the fish you are catching. You can either fish from the shore or from a boat with drift fishing from a boat being one of the best options. When fishing from shore you need to get your line out far enough so that it can catch the natural current of the river and allow the bait to drift in an area where the fish are located.

5. Best Lakes and Rivers for Catfish – The majority of the rivers and lakes in Nebraska contain at least one species of catfish. You can even find them in private ponds where the owners stock and raise the cats themselves. The larger lakes such as Box Butte Reservoir, Branched Oak Lake and Harlan County Lake. When it comes to fishing in the rivers, look to the Missouri River where the largest catfish in Nebraska was landed.
There are many more lakes and rivers in the state that contain catfish that you can drop your line in just about any lake or river that you can find.

Nebraska is a great state to find catfish as they are located in the majority of the bodies of water. There are channel, blue and flathead cats and catching them is a challenge but not out of the question. As long as you fish the bottom, you can find the big catfish. Bring the right equipment and make sure that your rod, reel and line can handle the sheer enormity of the catfish you hook. This is the most important aspect for catching catfish in Nebraska.


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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