channel catfish

How to Catch Channel Cats

Looking to hook a fish with some shoulders? Give channel catfish a try.

Catfish are some of the most exciting fish to catch. Nothing pulls drag like a catfish or provides as unique of a fight. Channel cats are the most widespread variation on this fish and perfect to start with. Get started with the tips below.

Know when to move

This is especially the case in the early season. If you are hunting channel cats in cold water and not getting bit within 30 minutes; it's time to move. When the water is warmer, you can increase that duration to one hour.


Like all predatory fish channel cats relate to cover during the day. At night catfish are more active and will hunt the shallows and coves searching for food. If you are fishing during the day look for cut banks. Deep dropoffs next to shallows are also good places to check out, as are sea walls when cut banks aren't present. If you're fishing moving water cats will position themselves at breaks in the current.

Use the right bait

With channel cats, it's hard to go wrong with a bait choice, as this aggressive fish will hit almost anything. For the most success I like large night crawlers or minnows. You can substitute cut bait as well. Stink bait will work when the water is HOT, don't try it until surface temperatures reach 72 degrees.


You can have all the bait and location advice in the world but that won't help without some tactics. When you are just starting to target catfish or fishing a new lake don't over look trolling. Troll slow and drag crawler harnesses on bottom bouncers. It works for walleye, catfish, and pretty much anything.

Simple options are always the most effective. If you find cut banks rig up a slip bobber with your bait suspend just off of the bottom. It won't take long if a fish is there it'll hit. If not reel in and fan cast the bank.

If you don't want to use live bait for whatever reason, you're in luck. Carolina rigged or Texas rigged crawlers are almost as effective. Some of my largest cats have come while I was bass fishing a Texas rig.

When all else fails, live the night life. Fish the shallows after dark with live bait. Cast it out and let it sit, it is that simple. If you don't get bit; move.