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Catfish Fishing Basics

August 23, 2019

Catfish Fishing including rigs, tackle and baits

Ever wonder if there is a right way of Catfish Fishing? What time of day is best to catch fish? Where is the closest catfish fishing near me? To catch fish, what is the best Catfish Fishing Rigs? Meanwhile, to understand all these questions that may arise. Firstly, we need to look at what a Catfish is and how they exist.

Therefore, join me on this venture, learning more regarding rigs, hooks, tackle, bait, where to fish, how to fish. As well as, some of the places where we can fish.

Catfish fish Defined and Introduced

Catfish indicating the flat head common to the species

Firstly, catfish fish is a diverse group of ray-finned fish. While, having prominent whiskers, like a cat’s whiskers, called barbels. Meanwhile, there are various catfish fish in this group.

While, the three largest species are the Mekong Giant Catfish, The Wels Catfish and the Piraiba. With the Armored Catfish being a smaller specie of the catfish. However, being detritivores, they eat all dead material on the bottom of the water source, including tiny parasitic species.

While, there are no scales on these fish. Furthermore, not all catfish have barbels, they are defined by features of the skull and swim bladder.

Meanwhile, they are Nocturnal, Diurnal or crepuscular fish. Moreover, commercially  farmed for food or used in the aquarium trade.

Moreover, bottom feeders with a heavy, bony head. With a variety of body shapes though most are cylindrical with flattened ventrum to allow for benthic feeding.

While, the flattened head allows the fish to dig through the substrate and acts as a hydrofoil. Generally, feed through suction or gulping rather than biting and cutting prey. Meanwhile, the maxilla is reduced to support barbels. Therefore, they are unable to protrude their mouths.

What do catfish eat

Small eyes encourage a keen sense of taste, smell and touch, which together with their barbels assist the catfish to find suitable food. While, various groups display a diversity in feeding behaviors.

Meanwhile, being scavengers, herbivores or omnivores. While, a few grow into monsters and are capable of even swallowing fish and large prey whole. Generally, catfish feed on fish, invertebrates, aquatic plants and fish eggs. As well as Zebra mussels.

Although some strange species like the Loricariidae include wood and algae in their diets. While, the giant Wels catfish may consume frogs, rodents and aquatic birds. While, young fish may feed on dragonfly larvae, water beetles and fly larvae.

Catfish are able to walk over land

Biggest Catfish Ever Caught

Biggest Catfish Ever Caught at the right time of day to catch on catfish fishing rigs

So, as mentioned earlier, the biggest catfish fish of the species are the Mekong Giant Catfish from Southeast Asia. As well as, the Wels Catfish from Eurasia and the Piraiba (Lau-Lau) from South America.

Furthermore, large catfish include Goonch, Blue Catfish, Redtail Catfish (Pirarara) and the Flathead Catfish. Below are some records of fish previously caught, at the right time of day to catch.

Mekong Giant Catfish

Mekong Giant Catfish from Northern Thailand

Weight: 646 pounds (293kg)
Length: 9 feet
Location: Mekong River Northern Thailand
Year Caught: 2005
Method: Netted

Mekong Giant Catfish from Kradi, Thailand

Weight: 260 pounds
Length: 7 feet
Location: Caught in Kradi, Thailand
Year Caught: 2011
Caught on: Sweetcorn
Angler: Martin David Kent
Line: 80-pound test
Method: Rod and Reel

Piraiba (Lau-Lau)

Piraiba (Lau-Lau) from Rio Solimoes, Brazil

Weight: 341 pounds
Length: 6.53 feet
Location: Rio Solimoes, Brazil
Year Caught: May 29, 2009
Angler: Jorge Masullo de Aguiar
Method: Rod and Reel
Some facts about the fish: They are so large that monkeys, dogs, cats, catfish, birds and rodents have been found in their stomachs.

Wels Catfish and Goonch Catfish Fishing

Wels Catfish from Po Delta, Italy

Weight: 280 pounds
Length: 8.75 feet
Location: Po Delta, Italy
Year Caught: 2015
Angler: Dino Ferraris
Method: Rod and Reel

Gooonch from River Ramganga, India

Weight: 165 pounds
Length: 5.15 feet
Location: River Ramganga, India
Year Caught: March 06, 2009
Angler: Jakub Vágner
Method: Rod and Reel
Other Facts about the Fish: Further, known to eat corpses from funeral pyres on the Kali River running between Nepal and India. Possibly allowing the Goonch to grow so large and develop a taste for human flesh.

Catfish Fishing for large blue catfish

large blue catfish from Kerr Lake, Virginia, USA

Weight: 143 pounds
Length: 4.75 feet
Location: Kerr Lake, Virginia, USA
Year Caught: June 18, 2011
Angler: Richard Nicholas Anderson
Method: Rod and Reel
Other facts about the fish: Moreover, have become an invasive species in Virginia, where they were introduced in the 1970s.

large blue catfish from lake Conroe, Texas, USA

Weight: 67 pounds
Length: 49-inch
Location: Lake Conroe
Year Caught: Feb 2019
Angler: Morris Taymon
Method: Rod and Reel

large blue catfish from lake Tawakoni, Texas, USA

Weight: 67.1 pounds
Length: 47-inches
Location: Lake Tawakoni
Year Caught: March 2019
Angler: Brayden Rogers
Method: Rod and Reel
Other: While,  this catch by a 13-year-old is still awaiting a 90 day approval.

Redtail and flathead catfish

Redtail catfish (pirarara) from Amazon River, Brazil

Weight: 123 pounds
Length: 4.62 feet
Location: Amazon River, Brazil
Year Caught: April 3, 2010
Angler: Gilberto Fernandes
Method: Rod and Reel
Other facts about the fish: While, they are not picky eaters and tend to eat fish and crustaceans, worms, frozen foods, sinking catfish pellets and dry foods.

Flathead Catfish Elk City Reservoir, Kansas, USA

Weight: 123 pounds
Length: 5.08 feet
Location: Elk City Reservoir, Kansas, USA
Year Caught: May 19, 1998
Angler: Ken Paulie
Method: Rod and Reel

Arkansas river Catfish Fishing

Catching giant catfish in Arkansas? Meanwhile, some of the biggest catfish in the USA can be found below Franklin County’s Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam on the Arkansas River. While, using only a huge weight treble hook that is cast far into the rolling water. Then, snatch them through the water with hard jerks that jar their bones. While, long rods used for saltwater fishing and huge reels spooled with 75-pound test line. Meanwhile, keeping the time of day to catch in mind.

In short, one of the more popular giants caught was the Sayre Brother’ snag line monster. While, the giant Flathead was caught on a moonless night. Furthermore, from nose to tip of tail was 5 feet 9 inches, from gill plate to gill plate across the top of the head was 21 inches. While, weighing in at around 140 pounds. However, their fish didn’t qualify for a record as it was not caught on a handheld pole and line.

Moreover, some other big fish caught was Charles Ashley Junior’s Record Blue of 116 pounds 12 ounces on rod and reel. Then, Joe Holleman’s Channel Catfish weighing 22 pounds 14 ounces. Then in 2002 a 127-pound blue catfish was caught in a hoop net in the Arkansas portion of the Mississippi river. But, since it was taken using commercial fishing tackle, it cannot be considered for any record. However, from this we notice that there are big catfish available for catfish fishing.

Catfish Fishing Rigs and Catfish Rigs for Lakes

There are various rigs available that work extremely well for catfish fishing.

Three-Way Swivel Rig

Starting with a three-way swivel. Attached a 20 – 30-pound length of line around 15 inches to one end of the swivel. While, the other end of the line, attaches to a donut typed shape of sinker. Depending on current and desired depth, depends on the weight of the sinker to be used.

Further, attached a 50-pound length approximately 3 foot to the other end of the three-way swivel. While, attaching the other end of the line to a hook. A circle hook works well. Meanwhile, depending on the size catfish aimed for, and the bait used, depends on the size of the hook.

Lastly, attach the main fishing line to the last remaining point of the three-way swivel. Yet, again depending on many factors determine the thickness of line that will be used. Our preference is an 80-pound braided line. Handy, when going for the big cats. However, greater fun would be had on a thinner graded line.

This rig is particularly useful to keep the bait and weight further apart. Allowing the bait to float around more freely in the current. Thereby, attracting catfish.

The Three-way swivel rig is one of the catfish fishing rigs

Secret catfish rig - Basic Carolina Rig

Carolina rig can be used at the best time of day to catch

Start at the main fishing, as mentioned earlier, depending on many factors, the main line grade and thickness will be determined. However, for preference 80-pound braided line is used.

Place a slip sinker onto the end of the line, normally a barrel type of sinker is preferred. But any shape may be used provided there is a hole running the length of the sinker, and the sinker can move freely.

Move the sinker up the mainline, attach a straight swivel to the end of the line. Large enough that the sinker won’t slip over the swivel. To the other end of the swivel attach a length of 65-pound mono filament line, from 20 – 30-inches long.

While, attaching a hook to the other end of the line. The bait caster or circle hook work very well. Size depending on the size of fish being caught and the size of bait being used.

These rigs work well in presenting the bait to the fish. However, also good for finicky feeders as the placing of the sinker allows the fish the feeling that there is no weight on the line. As well as, the time of day to catch.

Floating Rig for Catfish Fishing

Start off with the mainline. As per previous rigs. Here, we use an 80-pound braided line. Slip on a 1 or 2-inch inline cigar float and attach the line to a three-way swivel. To the opposite end of the three-way swivel attach a 15-inch length of 65-pound line. While, attaching a donut shaped sinker to the other end.

To the third point of the three-way swivel attach a length of 50-pound line approximately 3 foot-long. Tie a circle hook to the other end of the line. The size of hook depends on the size of catfish aimed for and the size of bait used.

Rig allows the bait to be more suspended than the other two rigs. Getting the bait off the floor, for maximum visibility to the curious passing cats.

Float Rig for catfish fishing near me at the right time of day to catch

Slip Sinker Rig - Santee Rig

Slip Sinker Rig for the right time of day to catch

Start at the main fishing, depending on many factors, the main line grade and thickness will be determined. However, for preference 80-pound braided line is used.

Place a slip sinker onto the end of the line, normally a barrel type of sinker is preferred. But any shape may be used provided there is a hole running the length of the sinker, and the sinker can move freely.

Move the sinker up the mainline, attach a straight swivel to the end of the line. Large enough that the sinker won’t slip over the swivel. To the other end of the swivel attach a length of 65-pound mono filament line, from 20 – 30-inches long.

Slip a 2-inch peg float onto the line. Then, attach a hook to the other end of the line. The bait caster or circle hook work very well. Size depending on the size of fish being caught and the size of bait being used.

The Santee Rig is very similar to the Basic Carolina Rig, except that a float has been included.

Catfish fishing rigs are great for presenting the bait to the catfish, slightly higher up the in-water column depending on time of day to catch. Allowing the bait to float in the water, rather than sink to the bottom.

Catfish Tackle

When fishing for catfish, there is not a lot of tackle required. While, some of the manufacturers who truly understand catfish angling are Whisker Seeker Tackle and Team Catfish. Meanwhile, Catfish tackle is simple, includes hooks, straight swivels, three-way swivels, floats, sinkers and line. Moreover, all the tackle needed for Catfish Fishing Rigs can be used at the right time of day to catch.

Catfish Hooks

Hooks include treble hooks, made by Eagle Claw, Mustad, Daiichi or Team Catfish. However, there are some cheap Chinese imports that are very poor quality. Moreover, the most important thing about hooks are that they must be very sharp and durable, for all catfish fishing rigs. While, a good size hook is #2, #4, #6 and #8, with the smaller the number, the larger the hook. With personal prefer being a key factor.

Kahle Hooks for Catfish

Great hooks for cut bait, hot dogs, grasshoppers, shrimp and other prepared baits. One of the most popular fishhooks on the market, next to the circle hook for catfish fishing. With the optimal size being 2/0 or 3/0 Kahle hook for larger cats and 5/0 or 6/0 for small to medium sized cats. Work especially well for catching channel catfish at the right time of day to catch.

Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish Hooks

Circle hooks are very popular. While, great for catch and release fishing style, keeping the hook safe from deep hooking or gut hooking fish. Meanwhile, there are currently two types of circle hooks on the market, the “true circle” hook, which has a small gap in them and the “new breed hybrid circle hook” which looks like a combination between the circle hook and the Kahle hook.

Catfish bait for catfish fishing

Catfish eat a variety of different foods depending on time of day and appetite. While, using their sense of small and taste when choosing a bait is important.

Baits may include hot dog slices, raw bacon, clams, smaller catfish, shad, chicken livers, Dip or Punch Baits, Night Crawlers, Crawfish, Giant Tiger Prawns, Spam.

Furthermore, Marshmallows, Garlic and Chicken Skin, Ivory Soap, Canned Dog Food, Fries, Green Apple Bubble Gum, Asian Clams and Spoiled Shrimp to name a few. To use with Catfish fishing Rigs at the right time of day to catch.

Homemade Catfish Bait

How to Make Dough Balls for Fishing


1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tin of sardines (packed in oil or water)
1-ounce bottle of anise extract


Whisk flour, corn meal thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.
Open and break apart the sardines.
Pour them into the flour-corn meal mixture, with all the juices from the tin.

With the whisk, mash all the sardines into tiny bits.
Stir together well absorbing all the juices into the flour and corn meal.
Add a bottle of anise to the mixture and stir well.

Now, stir in some water until the mixture has the consistency of play-doh.
Form the dough into golf-ball sizes.
Drop in boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Hardening the batter.

Remove balls from the water with a slotted spoon.
Place on paper towel and allow to cool.
Place in zip seal freezer bag in refrigerator until fishing day.

Wheaties with Chicken Livers


Wheaties Cereal
Fresh chicken livers, with blood


Put an amount of Wheaties cereal equivalent to the amount of livers.
Pushing the cereals down into the liquefied livers with a spoon.
Pulse the food and liver with a blender or food processor to slowly mix the cereal and liver juice together.

Transfer mixture to a bowl.
Adding more cereal and mix with fork.
Crushing the flakes with stirring.

Adding more cereal until the mixture is thick enough to form balls held together well.
Here, use a treble hook rather than a single-barb hook.
Place in the sun away from animals to dry and harden a bit.
Place in a Zip-seal bag in the fridge. Never freeze them.

Hot dog catfish bait

Simply break off a quarter inch-long piece of hot dog, string it onto a hook and cast the rig out. Further, when something jerks set the hook. While, using light spinning tackle and a simple split shot rig works best. Meanwhile, the variety made from a combination of chicken or turkey work better than the plain beef kind.

Use them plain or soak them in garlic and Kook-Aid, adding benefits for fishing. Now, place in a zip lock bag and add a tablespoon of chopped garlic and a packet of unsweetened strawberry Kool-Aid with enough water to cover them.

Strawberry jello Catfish bait

Watch the video below for another favorite using hot dogs and jello. Fish love it and it is simple to make.

Worms - Some useful tips

Take worms and soak them overnight in beet juice. When on the water inject a shot of air into their bodies with a syringe or worm blower. The Beet juice toughens the worm’s skin. Therefore, keeping them on the hook longer and the air shot floats them above the bottom where cats can small and see them floating.

Best Time of day to catch catfish and catfish fishing

Water temperature controls behavior change in catfish. Mostly the best time of day depends on the fish species being targeted. As well as, size of fish targeted.

Best Time of day to catch per season


Winter is trophy blue catfish fishing time. Producing excellent numbers of blue and channel catfish. However, the flathead is slightly more difficult. Great for catching big and small cats.


Best Time of day to catch per fish

Channel Catfish

Summer from pre-spawn until the water temperatures begin to drop in early fall. With fall and spring being a close second.

Blue Catfish
Flathead Catfish

Catfish Fishing Near Me

The United States has numerous lakes, ponds, streams, creeks, state parks and rivers that are open for fishing with the right catfish fishing rigs. However, here we will look at Lake Tawakoni, Lake Lavon and Lake Texoma.

Lake Tawakoni Texas

Lake Tawakoni

Located in Van Zandt, Rains and Hunt counties approximately 15 miles southeast of Greenville. Located on Caddo Creek and the South Form and Cow leech Forms of the Sabine River. Unfortunately, trace elements of Zebra mussels have been found in this lake.

Furthermore, has a surface area of 37879 acres with a maximum depth of 70 feet. The reservoir has water willow, smartweed and floating terrestrial species that provide abundant cover. While, containing submerged species such as hydrilla.

Excellent fishing for Striped bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, White Bass, Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish. While, fishing for Largemouth Bass and Crappie, is possible but not likely.

Lake Lavon Fishing

Located in Collin County northeast of Dallas and 4 miles northeast of Wyle. Off Texas Highway 78. The lake has a surface area of 21400 acres and a maximum depth of 59 feet. Unfortunately, Zebra mussels have been found in this lake.

Aquatic Vegetation is limited but there are some coontail, bushy pondweed and floating pondweed.

Excellent Blue Catfish, Crappie and Sunfish fish. While, Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish and White Bass are good. Meanwhile, Striped Bass fishing is limited.

Lake Lavon

Lake Texoma Texas

Lake Texoma

Located on the Red River impoundment on the Texas-Oklahoma border northwest of Sherman-Denison. West of US 75. The lake has a surface area of 74686 acres and a maximum depth of 100 feet. Zebra mussels have been found in this lake.

Water willow, American lotus, floating heart and bushy pondweed occur in strands. With the occasional Blue-green algae bloom occurring.

Excellent Smallmouth Bass, Blue Catfish and Striped Bass fishing destination with the right Catfish Fishing Rigs. While, good fishing occurs for Largemouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Channel Catfish, Crappie and White Bass. With fair fishing of Flathead Catfish occurs.

How to catch catfish by catfish fishing

Follow us as in relating articles regarding actual methods of how to catch catfish in lakes and ponds with individual Catfish Fishing Rigs. As well as, hand fishing for cats. Furthermore, relating articles will follow on hooks, knots and more. Join us on our venture and learn more about a wonderful sport and a great fish. Catfish available in the United States include the Blue Catfish, Channel Catfish and the Flathead Catfish.

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