How to Catch Catfish in Lakes Using 3 Easy Ways

December 3, 2016

Catfish fishing in lakes brings out fun and excitement. Plus, it is such a reward to catch some huge ones. A wide variety of catfish that live in lakes includes blue cats, flatheads, channel cats, and bullheads. All of these fishes are great to eat, and they are all fun to catch. Some people prefer smaller types of catfish for different dishes. Some other kinds of catfish are hard to eat.

However, if you want a catfish variety that could go well in any meals, you may choose the flatheads. They feed underneath the lakes, and they typically go deeper in the water. And as they feed, they go to the shallow parts of the water, specifically at night time. Plus, what is even better is that you can find catfish all over the lakes of the United States.

So, read on to learn the steps on how to catch catfish in lakes. These will make sure that you won’t leave your boat empty handed.


Where You Can Usually Look For Catfish in Lakes

Catfishes move along the old river and creek. Then, they will go deeper into the lakes. However, at night, they opt to go in the shallow waters to feed. Thus, to search for catfishes, you may look into the creek channels and diagonally to a flat. Then, go to the back of the cove, and you may find some fishes all over the waters. They will try to move into the bottom of the rocks and mud. Plus, they seem to blend well in the gravel and clay.

Step 1: Selecting the Bait and Fishing Gear

  • Purchasing a Fishing Line and Rod

The first thing you have to consider is obtaining a fishing line and rod. The size of the bar matters and you should determine it using the scale of the fish you are planning to catch in a lake.

For fishes that are less than 20 pounds, you may use a six-foot rod with about 10 pounds of the test line. Then, for fishes above 20 lbs, you may buy a seven-foot rod with around 20 pounds of the test threshold. When you are planning to fish from the banks, you may also utilize longer rods since they will provide a longer reach to the waters.

  • Get Some Bobbers, Fishhooks, and other Fishing Gear

A lot of sporting good stores offer a starter tackle box that will already include a variety of gear so you could get started. But, what you need, to begin with, is a sharp fishhook. However, if you would like to get some accessories, you can as long as it fits your budget.

If you want some fishing gear, you may want to get a glow in the dark bobber. It will be very helpful, especially when fishing at night. Also, you may try to get a cooler and a bucket. These accessories will hold your catfish and bait.

  • Try to Consider Other Types of Bait

Some catfish pro fishers always use a similar kind of bait. But, a catfish will eat different sorts of bait. Thus, for beginners, you may consider using various types of bait to know which of them will the catfishes in your area consume. You may try some of these choices:

You may cut the hook. Bait fish, gold eye, herring, and shad give off the oils that draw the attention of catfishes. When you slice these fish, you can use them to fish for catfish. You may also get a live bait fish that won’t directly release the oil. But, don’t worry. They seem to be attractive to catfish since they are still alive.

Plus, you can also try using night crawlers. These worms draw a variety of fishes in lakes. Lastly, you may also consider utilizing an artificial bait. There are a lot of artificial catfish baits available on the market. However, experts claim that an excellent bait for catfishes is the live bait.

  • Select the Size of the Bait that will Go with the Size of the Catfish

If you know that you can catch the big ones in your area, then you are going to obtain a large type of bait. You see, a small bait just like the night crawler will easily get off the hook.

  • Have a Fresh Bait

Catfishes won’t get attracted to a bait that is not fresh. Thus, you need to properly store them in a cooler cold when you want to spend some time on the water.

Step 2: Looking for an Active Catfish

  • Try to Fish when the Water is Still Warm

You have to know that catfishes become less active when they are in cold waters. Thus, the ideal time to begin fishing is when the water is still warm and it the water level rises. However, you can still resume your fishing until the water turns cold. You may observe the perfect time of the year to go fishing for catfishes in your area.

In some other regions, the fishing season may begin earlier. Also, in some other places, the water may not start warming up until summer.

In the Southern part of the U.S., you may find the blue catfish still active even during the winter. Hence, you are not required to stop fishing during the winter season when you opt to fish in that area.

  • Start Fishing Early in the Morning

These types of fish belong to a more active fish during the morning. Thus, you need to plan to begin fishing before the sunrise because they feed this early. However, you may still catch some catfishes later in the day, especially when it is raining. However, when the sun is out, the fishes may become less active.

  • Search for Areas with Cover

Catfishes love to stay in spots where the current convenes with a calm area. That way, they can rest without competing with the high flow. You can find these places where the current easily strikes a large rock or log, which is usually close to the river bank. Also, you can look for other calm places near a human-made water source and dam.

For smaller streams and rivers, you have to look for quiet areas amidst the water. For fish ponds and reservoir, you have to look for places close to deep spots, creeks, boulders, and fallen logs.

  • Choose Your Position

Once you have already taken a position for fishing, you have to plunge your anchor and assemble the fishing equipment. Then, you also need to cast your line and wait until you catch the catfish.

Step 3: Catching the Catfish

  • Spool the Fish

As the catfish bites the bait, let go of the line and begin reeling the fish in a quick motion.

  • Check Out the Catfish’s Size

Ensure that the catfish passes the size requirements, so you could fish in the region as long as you desire. If the catfish is too tiny, then you will have to unhook it and let it go into the water. But if you want to keep the catfish, you have to store it in a bucket full of water. By doing so, you can clean and skin it later on.

Other Techniques to Catch a Catfish

  • The Catfish Chicken Liver Fishing Method

A chicken liver is also an excellent bait for catfish. What you need to do is to use a rig, casting sinker, sharp J hook, and leader. You have to put a piece of the chicken liver on the hook, and you need to throw it in the deep water. Lastly, you need to make sure that the chicken liver sinks at the bottom. Catfishes love to eat chicken liver at night. Thus, you need to bring some portable lights with you.

  • The Catfish Jug Fishing Method

Fishing using a jug is also a convenient way to catch a catfish. A cheap and simple method to begin fishing is to use an empty milk jug. You need to make sure that to get the lid of the milk jug. That way, you could attach the lid to the jug with a rubber cement. Then, try to tie one tip of your line to the jug handle. Consider leaving around a foot less than the depth of the place where you are planning to fish.

For instance, if you want to fish in a 5-foot area, you may at least have a 4-foot line from your jug. Then, to the free tip of the line, you may tie it with a weight/sinker and a leader. Next, you need to attach the leader and the J hook. Then, throw the jug not less than 10-foot apart from one another.


Catfishes are very active. Hence, you need to put up a good fight once you decide to fish them. And since these fishes are bottom feeders, you can use any kind of bait to catch them.

That way, you will have the full opportunity to fish and to catch a big catfish. So, you have to follow the tips and techniques of catching the catfish. By doing so, you will be reeling a big catfish in no time!

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About the Author


Hello, fishing world! My name is Bella. Yes, you got me right, I am a woman! But, I am a woman not only fond of cooking and shopping. I am a woman who shows interest in everything that covers topics regarding fishing. Don’t get me wrong! I believe that the world of fishing is not exclusively for men! In fact, I, myself enjoy fishing. That’s why I created this website.

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