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Fishing for Catfish in Lakes

Lake Fishing for Catfish Can Be Good


Three catfish ready for the frying pan
Rebecca E Marvil/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
Fishing in lakes for catfish is fun and you can catch some big ones. A variety of kinds of cats live in lakes, including channel cats, blue cats and flatheads as well as bullheads. All are fun to catch and good to eat. Smaller cats are preferred for cooking because bigger ones get tough, except for flatheads. The are bottom feeders for the most part and usually hold in deep water, although they will move shallow to feed, especailly at night. Cats are found in lakes all over the US.

Some catfish outside the US get huge, and are the subject of scams and false claims.

Where To Find Catfish in Lakes

Catfish, especially big ones, will hold along old creek and river channels in deep water in lakes. They move more shallow to feed, especially at night, and flats along a channel are especially good. Follow a creek channel across a flat to the back of a cove and you will find catfish somewhere along it. They will hold on any kind of bottom, from rocks to mud, but seem to like hard bottoms like clay or gravel.

The depth can be critical. In winter and summer cats will hold in the deepest water that has enough oxygen to support them, searching for temperatures in the mid 70s. In the south that can be very deep. In spring they will move into shallow water with hard bottoms to spawn. In the fall they will move more shallow as the water cools in to the 70s on top, then back deeper as it gets colder. Catfish can be caught in cold water, even when ice fishing, but they are usually thoght of as a warm water fish.

Baits To Use Fishing For Catfish In Lakes

Catfish will eat just about anything they can get in their mouth. Liver, live minnows, earthworms, crickets and mealworms are all favorite baits. There are a wide range of prepared "stink" baits on the market, too. These paste and dough like baits can all be molded around hooks and will catch cats. Cats have been caught on unsual baits ranging from hotdogs to Ivory Soap, and they will hit all kinds of artificial baits from plastic worms to crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

Bait size depends on the size of the fish you want to catch. For small eating size channel cats earthworms or small minnows are good. For huge flatheads a six inch or bigger bream or shad is best. Fish all the baits on the bottom in most cases and you will catch cats.

In lakes it often helps to bait up a hole to draw cats in to a smaller area to catch them. This concentrates them and improves your odds.

Tackle To Use Fishing For Catfish In Lakes

Match the tackle to the size of the cats you expect to catch. Smaller cats are more fun to catch on lighter spinning or bait casting rods, but you need heavy rods, reels with good drag and heavy line to land really big catfish. When going after 50 pound plus cats light saltwater gear is appropriate.

For most catfishing, a six or seven foot medium action spinning rod with a reel that has a good drag will cover many situations. Spool the reel with ten pound line and you can land cats from a pound to ten pounders eaisly. You can land bigger cats if you have a good drag and play the fish right.

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