These are the best states for catfish, and not those little five-pounders.
Though bass, walleye, and a huge crop of saltwater fish are typically sexier, more interesting and likely more fun to catch, catfish remain the monsters of American waters.
Sometimes reeling in a big cat can take hours, sometimes it takes a few minutes, but no matter how long you’re trying to land a big one, the excitement of seeing it break the water’s surface is as great as fishing gets.
The next time you think about taking a fishing trip, aim for one of these states when the cats come calling.
View the slideshow to see our picks for the best states for catfish, and leave your thoughts below in the comments.
Monster blue catfish creep through plenty of Alabama’s lakes and rivers, especially the Tennessee River.
This 120-pound, four-ounce blue was caught in 2012 by John Nichols in the Holt Reservoir. Think you can beat that state record? Good luck.
If a trophy-sized catfish is what you’re after, you could do a lot worse than hit Arkansas. Millwood, Conway and Ouachita lakes are prime spots to hunt them down.
A former world record blue catfish was caught in 2001 and weighed more than 116 pounds, and an 80-pound flathead has held the state record since 1989.
If it’s home to “The Catfish Capital of the Universe,” we’re guessing Louisiana is a likely spot for one of the next big records to be broken. Lake Des Allemandes takes that claim, and for good reason.
Don’t forget about the Mighty Mississippi, which was the site of a record-breaking catch by 12-year old Lawson Boyte. He reeled in a catfish that weighed 114-plus pounds.
Big catfish aren’t all that hard to find in Missouri, where plenty of hot spots are scattered across the state.
A 130-pound blue was caught there in 2012 from the Missouri River, and places like Montrose and Truman Lake can be counted on for monsters too.
The Buckeye State lays claim to flatheads, blues and channel cats that rival the biggest and the best.
Lake Erie and the Ohio River are two main places to target them, and there’s plenty of other locations to hit too.
Though Oklahoma typically gets credited with being a great place for other species, the catfish that swim in Lake Texoma and some of the state’s reservoirs are nothing but big.
In the past ten years or so, almost every state catfish record has been broken in Oklahoma.
In the Lone Star State, everything’s bigger, including the catfish. Texas boasts a 121-pound, 5-ounce blue that was 58 inches long, caught in the state’s portion of Lake Texoma.
Check out the Brazos and Colorado Rivers for big channel catfish.
Though it hasn’t really been on many trophy catfishermen’s radar, West Virginia might be the next big place to blow up when it comes to monsters.
It seems like only a matter of time before the 70-pound flathead record is broken, which has stood since 1956. Little Kanawha River is a good place to start, but other locations are likely to produce jumbo cats too.