The Ultimate Guide: Best Time to Catch Catfish Revealed

When is the best time to catch Catfish or the best time for Catfishing? That’s a great question involving many variables such as Catfish species, location, time, and season, and whether or not you’re chasing regular Catfish or record-breaking Catfish.

Catfishing in the United States is a popular recreational pastime, and once you’ve hooked into a monster Catfish, you’ll be hooked for life.

Did you know that the biggest Catfish ever caught in the United States was a Blue Catfish caught at Buggs Island Lake, Virginia, and it’s been certified by the Virginia State Record. It weighed a massive 143 pounds (64 kg), was 57 inches long (144cm), and was 47 inches (122cm) in girth.

Catfish are potentially the most underrated fish species in the United States. Not only do they grow into massive proportions, but they also put up a big fight, and best of all, they taste delicious.

There are three predominant species of Catfish in the United States. The three species include the Channel Catfish, Flathead Catfish, and Blue Catfish. In the following article, we’ll cover the best time of year for Catfish, including the best time to go Catfishing. If you’ve been searching for an answer to when’s the best time to catch Catfish, you’ve come to the right place!

In the following article on The Ultimate Guide: Best Time to Catch Catfish Revealed, we’ll be covering the following catfish techniques, including:

Even a Catfish professional needs a little help when they’re traveling to a new fishing location. If you want to increase your chances of catching a monster Catfish and learn the best time to catch a Catfish in your fishing destination, then the Fishbox App will be perfect for you! The Fishbox App is a Premium Fishing Forecasting App used by thousands of anglers across the United States to improve their catch rates and master new and local fishing destinations.

Expert Opinion on the Best Time to Catch Catfish

Pierce Latta

16 years fishing experience

“Over the years, I’ve done quite a lot of Catfish fishing, however, my Catfish fishing has always been restricted to ponds. I’ve gone fishing for Catfish once or twice in lakes or rivers, but my real experience comes in Catfish fishing in ponds. Like the article mentions, you can make fishing for Catfish successful at any point in time both during the actual day/night and the entire year. Catfish are a very hardy species; they can survive just about anything, and they are constantly scavenging for food. In terms of the experience I want to pass on to you, let me start with the time of year. As I just mentioned, the time of year doesn’t really affect how I catch catfish, but I will go ahead and say that some months are just going to be better than others. In my experience, warmer months like May-August tend to have catfish moving around more and more actively looking for food while in colder months they like to settle in the mud. Next, let’s talk about the time of day. The important thing about Catfish fishing is that you need to have time, it’s not Bass fishing where you say you can just go outside and throw a few casts. Catfish fishing is a patience game, and you must be willing to set aside time to wait. From my own experience, any time of day, if you set aside long enough (2-3 hours at least), is going to be a good time to fish for catfish. Although I will say that as you get to late afternoon, the bite does seem to pick up. Third, let’s talk about your strategies here. My best results have come from having a variety of different rigs employed. I always have a three to four-rod spread with at least one bobber rig and a couple of bottom rigs. For the bottom rigs, I run just a simple Carolina Rig, and for the bobber set I use just a hook with a bobber. I’ll set up on a clear side of the bank and spread my rigs in a fan pattern to cover a bunch of water. Lastly, let’s talk about bait. This is where you really have to investigate and experiment to see what the Catfish actually want to eat. I have a few go-to baits that I will ALWAYS try to see what the fish want, these include: hotdogs, live bluegill, cut bluegill, and worms. By using all four of these baits while fishing for Catfish, I maximize my chance that a catfish will want to eat one of these baits. While I have always done the best on either live or cut-up bluegill, I will still always try hotdogs and worms. I’ve had days where the bluegill wasn’t touched, and all the Catfish wanted was a hotdog, and other days where the Catfish would only eat cut bluegill. You must adapt to your situation in order to be the best angler you can become. I hope some of my personal experiences with fishing for Catfish will help you in your future endeavors, and as always, tight lines!”

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Factors Influencing Catfish Activity

In this section, we’ll be looking at the predominant factors that influence Catfish activity, such as water temperature, time of day, and season. After all, the best time to catch a Catfish is when the Catfish are biting, and if you don’t have bait in the water, you have no chance.

Water Temperature

While the Catfish bite rate will significantly decrease in colder weather and water temperatures, it’s still possible to catch Catfish. Even fishing frozen lakes and ponds in the middle of winter through the ice can produce Catfish, but you’ll need to be very patient and expect to sit there a lot longer waiting.

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Many Catfishing experts believe that when the water temperature drops below 40°F (4.0°C), the Catfish bite will be seriously reduced. However, fishing for Catfish in deep holes can still be effective if you’re patient.

Time of the Day

A standard Catfish stereotype or rumor is that the best time to catch a Catfish is at night. While many anglers choose to fish for Catfish at night, you can still land giant Catfish during the daylight hours. You also need to consider where you’re fishing and what Catfish species you’re targeting.

Flathead Catfish are the most nocturnal of the three Catfish species. Flathead Catfish will move out of cover during the nighttime hours, hunting and foraging for food. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t catch a big Flathead Catfish during the day.

Channel Catfish and Blue Catfish are a little less predictable. They hunt for food during the day and night, and there’s no better time to go Catfishing for either species.

Pro TipBoth Blue and Channel Catfish are more active in fast-slowing water during the day and slow water at night.

Seasonal Variations

Believe it or not, seasons don’t play a crucial role in the best time of year to catch Catfish. However, there are better seasons to fish for Catfish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch a big Catfish all year round, regardless of what season you’re catfishing in.

The best season of the year to catch Catfish will always be the warmer summer months. 

Pro TipFish shallow, faster-moving water in summer. In winter, switch to deep, slow-moving water or deep holes where Catfish will assemble.

Catfishing in Different Conditions

Catfishing in different conditions is going to require using different Catfishing techniques. After all, you won’t catch Catfish the same in lakes as in a river, so you need to be flexible in how you approach your Catfishing and when you go Catfishing in rivers and where you fish.

In this section, we’ll look at the best time to catch Catfish in rivers and the best time to catch Catfish in a lake.

Catfishing In Rivers

Morning Fishing for Catfish on Rivers

During the morning hours, many Catfish are still in the final stages of their nighttime hunting, so there’s an excellent chance to catch one of these Catfish before they return to their log or hole. You can target the areas between deep and shallow water, but once the sun’s rays are blasting the water surface, transition to the deeper parts of the river.

Daytime Fishing for Catfish on Rivers

During the day, while not being the ideal time to catch Catfish on rivers, it can still be productive, and if daytime fishing is your only option, then you need to make the most of it. It pays to know where the deepest parts of the river are. During the day, Catfish are more likely to be holed up in these deep holes, waiting for their food to come to them.

Nighttime Fishing for Catfish on Rivers

The optimal Catfishing time will always be evening into nighttime, as it’s when Catfish are most actively searching for food. Once it gets dark, Catfish will leave the deep holes and logs in the river where they’ve been hiding and start hunting the shallows.

Read also: Reel in Big Catch: Your Ultimate How-to Guide for Catching Catfish

Catfishing In Lakes

Morning Fishing for Catfish On Lakes

Morning fishing for Catfishing in lakes gives you a lot of opportunities to catch Catfish as they return from hunting and feeding in the shallow waters around the Lake’s shore. Look for natural transitions between shallow and deep water.

Daytime Fishing for Catfish On Lakes

While the daylight hours aren’t the most productive, lakes with deep holes and a lot of depth can still be effective for anglers. You want to use your depth sounder or fish finder to locate deep holes and then concentrate on fishing these areas. 

Pro TipBe patient during daylight hours. Catfishing during the day will be much more challenging than at nighttime, so you’ll need patience.

Nighttime Fishing for Catfish On Lakes

If you can, nighttime fishing for Catfish on lakes will always be the most productive and give you the best chance of landing a fish. During the night hours, target the shallow water around the Lake’s shore, and as daylight approaches, transition to deeper water.

The Best Fishing Tackle for Catching Catfish in Rivers and Lakes

When choosing the best fishing tackle for Catfish, you need to use appropriate tackle for the size of the fish. It’s no use fishing for monster Catfish with light gear. However, if you’re only chasing small to medium-sized Cats and hoping to land a Bass, Walleye, or other freshwater fish, then light to medium gear will do you well.

Read also: Unveiling the Secrets of Freshwater Fishing: A Guide to the Best Lures

Fishing close to a riverbank where you can drive means that you can bring plenty of fishing gear. However, if you’re hiking into a secret Catfishing spot, you’ll need to know your limits and how much gear you can carry.

Lake fishing for Cats from a boat will allow you to bring some pretty heavy tackle, as you don’t need to cast your bait. You can drop it right on top of the Catfish hole from your boat. 

If you’re wondering when is the best time to Catfish, then it’s when you have a rod in the water! It’s no use worrying about when the best time to catch Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, or Flathead Catfish is or the best time of the year to catch Catfish if you’re not on the water.

Professional Catfishing Tips and Techniques

Now that you know the best time of year to catch Catfish and the best time to Catfish in rivers and lakes, it’s time to look at the best baits and lures for Catfishing.

In the following section we’ll cover:

  • How to Choose the Right Baits and Lures
  • The Best Equipment for Catfishing
  • New Technology for Catfishing

How to Choose the Right Catfishing Baits and Lures

Ask ten experienced Catfishing anglers what the best bait is for Catfish, and you’ll get ten different answers. There are a lot of crazy ideas and theories out there when it comes to the best Catfishing baits and lures. 

Our advice is to avoid the crazy Catfish bait ideas and instead focus on tried and true Catfishing baits. To make it a little easier, we’ve broken down our recommended baits into different target species.

The Best Bait for Flathead Catfish 

Catching fresh bait in the river or lake where you’re Catfishing is the best way to match the bait to the catch. Flathead Catfish are hunters, and they prefer live baits. We’re not saying live bait is the only way, but it’s the most likely to produce results. Fish like Bluegills, Sunfish, Crappies, or even smaller Carp will make ideal bait. 

The Best Bait for Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish have a good nose and will follow the stench of a stinking bait a long way, so it’s time to utilize those dip and punch baits. If it makes you gag, then there’s a good chance that a Channel Catfish will love it. As they get bigger, Channel Catfish start hunting more, and dead fish baits will work well.

The Best Bait for Blue Catfish

Blue Catfish aren’t fussy about what they eat and enjoy both live bait and cut bait, but avoid frozen bait and, if you can, find a nice oily fish. Think about fish like Skipjack Herring or Threadfin Shad, which are naturally oily.

Be sure to follow local fishing rules and regulations when catching live fish for bait.

The Best Equipment for Catfishing 

If you plan on only chasing monster Catfish, you’ll need to use the correct strength line, tackle, and rod to avoid being broken off and losing the fish. After all, you’re not landing a 100-pound catfish on light spinning gear. However, if you’re happy to catch Bass, Walleye, or Catfish, light-to-medium tackle and rod will do you well.

New Technology for Catfishing

While fishing technology is constantly evolving and changing, one new piece of fishing technology that could significantly increase your chances of catching a giant Catfish while reducing wasted time is the Fishbox App.

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Answer a quick quiz and get your own personalized fishing map

The Fishbox App will highlight local Catfishing hotspots and secret locations where visiting anglers have had luck catching Catfish. Utilizing 8 core factors and 41 sub-factors, the Fishbox App will give you accurate forecasting about when Catfish are potentially more active and most likely to bite.

It’s important to remember that Catfish can be caught under various fishing conditions, times, and seasons. You need to be flexible in your approach to catching Catfish if you want to be successful. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try a different bait, location, or technique.

The Ultimate Guide: Best Time to Catch Catfish Revealed – Conclusion

There you go! The ultimate guide on the best time to catch Catfish, including the best time of year for Catfishing on lakes and rivers. Regardless of where you plan on going Catfishing, knowing when is the best time to Catfish and where will serve you well, and hopefully, after reading this Catfishing Guide you’ll be enjoying a delicious Catfish dinner!

Even the best Catfishing anglers need a little advice and inside information when it comes to picking the best time of year to Catfish. That’s where the expert advice in the Fishbox App comes in very handy.

The Fishbox App was developed in conjunction with expert fish behavioral analysts and weather forecasting experts to tell you the best time to go Catfishing. Thanks to the app for fishing, you’ll know the best time of year to Catfish and when you’re better off staying at home. After all, it’s no use Catfishing when the Catfish aren’t biting!

If you have any tips for beginners just getting started Catfishing, drop a comment below and share your knowledge and experience with the next generation of Catfishing anglers.

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