Three Channel Catfish Fishing Secrets

When it comes to catfish, the channel cats are among the most sought out. They’re a challenging fish that also make a great tasting meal so they’re sought out for both sport and food. They can be easier to find than some of the other species such as the flathead or the blue catfish and they’re located in all types of water from lakes and rivers to small ponds. They do seem prefer clear water and tend to stay in grassy areas and around sandbars.

Channel cats have a cylinder shape body with sharp spines on the dorsal and pectoral fins. They’re a muscular fish that is very strong. They have barbells around the mouth, each side of the upper jaw and under the jaw. They don’t have scales but they do have a spotted body and forked tail.

The channel catfish is a bottom feeder so they will normally be found on the bottom of whatever type of water you’re fishing in. However, they can often be found in shallow water or suspended a few feet above the bottom. This species has a strong sense of smell so using bait with a strong odor is recommended. Some of the best bait to use includes garlic, chicken livers, dough balls and homemade baits made from cheese. They’re also attracted to shrimp, frogs, minnows, worms, shad and night crawlers.

Channel Catfish Fishing Secrets

There are many methods used to catch the channel catfish that are very effective but they can often be a challenge to catch. They’re very aggressive and don’t like anything invading their territory. Once hooked, they’ll fight you all the way to shore. Of course, this makes reeling them in fun and exciting which adds to the reasons why they’re so popular with anglers everywhere.

Here are three channel catfish fishing secrets that can help make your next fishing trip more productive:

1. Use circle hooks when you’re fishing for this species. These will penetrate the mouth easier and they’re more secure than other types of hooks reducing the risk of the cat getting away during the struggle.
2. When fishing in a river look for areas such as below a dam where the water is steadily moving. The baitfish will be plentiful in these areas and the channel catfish like to stay close to a good meal.
3. Use a two or three hook fishing rig because this increases the number of bites that you can get. The weight stays on the bottom and the bait is suspended hovering just above the bottom and this gets the attention of the channel cat and draws them in.

The average channel cat weighs about four pounds but in the right conditions, they can grow much larger. Some have been caught weighing as much as fifty pounds or more. When seeking out the channel cat a heavy action rod combined with a casting reel or spinning reel and heavy fishing line is recommended.

Channel Catfish Fishing Techniques

When fishing for channel catfish there are several techniques that can be used successfully. However, there are three that seem to get excellent results no matter where you’re fishing. Casting is one of them. This technique makes it easy to start from the outside of the group of cats and work inward without scaring them away.

Drift fishing is the second method often used and it allows the bait to move down through the group of fish. Since this action closely resembles the moves of natural prey, it entices them to strike. Still-fishing is also popular and can yield excellent results. This one makes it easy to get the bait on the bottom where the channel cats are most often found.

One of the great things about fishing for the channel catfish is that you can fish for them anywhere. If you have a boat you can get out to secluded areas where they are hard to reach. These areas are usually the home to some of the larger cats because they are more secluded and not fished as often. However, fishing from the bank of a river or lake can be very productive as well. Some of the larger cats will often be found in the shallow edges of the water.

As with most species, the channel catfish is most active in the spring and early fall but you can catch them most anytime. In fact, you can even catch them in the winter if you don’t mind the cold weather. They will be a little more difficult to find and move a lot slower but if you use the right bait, you can get them to strike. Your presentation is always important so practice the way you retrieve the bait every chance you get. The channel catfish won’t strike anything that looks out of place or acts strangely.


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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