How do you catch catfish at night?

I heard night catfish fishing can be great… what works?

As you may well be aware, catfish live in generally deep, dark, and sometimes murky water, and, accordingly, their sense of smell and touch far outweighs their eyesight, as far as their ability to locate, qualify and catch or grab up food or prey items. As a result, catfish are actually far easier to get on the hook at night, than during daylight hours, so, you’re in luck, if you want to catch cats in the dark. The main questions you have to ask yourself, before setting out, are, first, which species of catfish are you hoping to catch (or, which species live in your local waters), and then, how big are the fish you’re after? These two answers will affect what and how you fish, for a couple of reasons. First off, the species of fish you want to catch will affect your choice of bait, and how and where you fish it, and the size of the fish will also play a major role in these decisions. For example, Channel and Blue cats, on the smaller side (under 15 lbs. or so), will tend to take almost any smelly, natural bait you can offer them, but the larger fish of either of these species tend to switch over to a diet consisting almost exclusively of dead fish, and won’t accept other baits as easily. Further, Flathead cats are the only species of catfish to engage actively in hunting live prey, in preference to dead baits, though a properly-fished dead bait will still attract lots of them. So, once you know which fish, and how big of a specimen you are after, you can bait your line accordingly. “Flatties” can often be found in shallower water at night, when they come inshore to hunt, but otherwise, they, and all the other major catfish species, stay in the deeper holes. Choose your bait size, to match the fish you want to catch, and keep your baits natural and smelly, in general. A “slipweight” or sliding ledger rig works wonders, much of the time, as does drift fishing, due to its totally natural presentation, once you have the right depth figured out.


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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