Learn how to catch catfish: four methods to land this blowhole

Catfish is one of the most popular and easily identifiable fish in North America. There are many ways to catch them, and we have some great ideas.

These murky aquatic creatures are famous for their characteristic “cat-like” whisker look as well as for the unmistakable taste they bring to the dining table.

The three main species that you can find in the United States are blue catfish, channel catfish, and flat-headed catfish. Blue catfish can grow well over 100 pounds and live up to 30 years. Flat-headed catfish come in second but tend to have longer bodies. But it is channel catfish that are considered the best diet and can grow as much as 40-50 pounds at peak maturity.

Whether you’re fishing for something good or just want to have a good time on the river, this article will tell you four ways you can catch a catfish.

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How to catch catfish

Before you get in the water, find your state’s fishing regulations and buy a license. Know which methods are legal and try some legal methods to find out what works best for your region.

However, don’t overthink it. Catfish avoid the sun and love the dark. Go fishing in the shallow water of a river bank in the evening. This is when and where they are most actively feeding. Good timing will certainly increase your chances of catching a catfish.

Catfish have a good sense of smell and will eat almost anything with a strong odor. As a result, they love chicken livers, worms, smelly bait, Hot dogs, and minnows, to name a few options.

Fishing for catfishPhoto Credit: Healing Waters Fly Fishing Project – Northern VA

4 ways to catch a catfish

1. Youth

Pitcher fishing involves putting a pitcher string (a floating bottle or pitcher with a bait hook, string, and sinker) on the water, leaving the pitcher string for some time, then patrolling the pitchers, and then pulling it out of the water with a mustache fish taking the bait.

Note: Jugging is not legal in all 50 states. Check your state’s Wildlife Resources Agency website Information on local regulations.

To make a pitcher line you will need:

How to make your pitcher line:

  1. Spray paint your mug.
  2. Write your full name, address and driver’s license or vehicle registration number on the mug with a permanent marker.
  3. Cut 6 to 10 feet off your fishing line.
  4. Tie the end of the leash to the bottleneck (just below the cap threads) or to the pitcher handle.
  5. Tie a hook to the line halfway through.
  6. Tie the board at the end of the line.
  7. Bait your hook with the bait you choose.
  8. Put your pitcher in the water and watch for the pitchers bobbing or weaving. If the jugs are jumping around, you’ve probably hooked a cat! Sneak up on the pitcher, pull on it, and bring in your catfish!

Pitcher fishingPhoto credit: Patrick Lewis

2. Limb lining

Limb lining, a cheap and easy way to catch a catfish, is to tie a bait hook, string, and sinker to a piece of branch and wait.

For limb lining, the most important part is choosing the right tree to tie your leash to. Choose live, strong branches, at least 1 inch in diameter, that hang low and over at least 3 feet of water. A monster cat can easily break a dead or thin branch.

To make a limb line you will need:

How To Make Your Limb Line:

  1. Cut about 2 feet of fishing line. This will be your leader.
  2. Tie a hook to one end of the 2-foot leash.
  3. Tie the swirl at the other end of the 2 foot line.
  4. Determine your fishing spot. (Skip to step 5 if you have already done this.)
  5. Cut another piece of line according to the water depth at your location and the distance of your branch above the water.
  6. Tie the pivoting end of the leader to the second piece of fishing line.
  7. Thread the free end of the leash through your board and drop the board down to the pivot point.
  8. Bait your hook.
  9. Tie the entire line to the branch you have chosen and wait for the time you want.
  10. After waiting for the time you want, check your limbs and feed your monster catfish!

Limb liningPhoto credit: Thomas & Dianne Jones

3. Rod and reel

Fishing with a spinning rod and reel is the most common way to catch a catfish. This method of cat fishing is best for magical riverside evenings. And it’s a great option for those who don’t have a boat.

Notice the man who broke a state record for the catfish he caught on a $ 20 rod from Walmart?

To catch a catfish with a rod and reel you will need:

How to fish catfish:

  1. Tie the leader to the end of your main fishing line.
  2. Attach the hooks to the side arms of the guide line.
  3. Bait your hook.
  4. Throw your bait into the water at your chosen fishing spot.
  5. Move your rod up and down slowly and gently, mimicking the movements of a catfish’s natural live bait.
  6. If you feel your rod jerk, put the hook and reel in your catfish!

Rod fishingPhoto credit: Virginia State Parks

4. Pasta

Noodle is a traditional and respected method of cat fishing that does not require special equipment. For pasta, all you need is your bare hands (and some courage) to catch a catfish.

To catch a catfish through pasta, you have to do a bit of scouting. Catfish lay eggs and build nests in underwater holes, hollowed logs, and in rocky corners.

When you find a catfish nest, drop into the water next to the nest and feel around. If there is a catfish in there, it will likely protect its nest and act aggressively so you can grab it by the jawbone and get a good grip on it.

Pull the catfish close to your body, then lift it out of the water and bring it to the shore!


Good luck!

No matter how many catfish you catch, you know what they’re saying, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

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