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Catfishing Tips, Tricks, and More

Thomas is an award-winning chef with 40+ years of experience. He loves to cook and share recipes.


Catfish Tips and Techniques

With warmer weather right around the corner, it will soon be time to go catfishing again, and it doesn't matter if you're going on your fishing trip to a local lake or river, we're going to reveal some great tips and tricks to make your next fishing trip a success.

Here it is almost July now and I've been tearing up the catfish. The local rivers here in North Carolina are a lot cleaner than they used to be when all the mills were running, and now they hold some record-setting catfish. I recently caught a 23-pound channel catfish at my favorite fishing hole in the local river with chicken liver on a treble spring hook.

There are some basic things you should keep in mind when going on a fishing trip for catfish: what bait to use, how and where to fish, and what to bring.

Two Best Baits: Chicken Livers or Shrimp

No matter what anyone tells you, the two best baits for your average catfish are chicken livers or medium- to large-size shrimp (green shrimp, fresh-frozen shrimp). And remember, when you are using shrimp as bait for catfish, remove the skin and tail from the shrimp. Chicken livers should be used just barely thawed out. If they are still slightly frozen, they will stay on your hook much better. And here's a tip: you can use small pieces of old pantyhose to wrap your chicken livers in if you're having trouble keeping them on the hook.

Other baits used for catfish are blood worms, nightcrawlers, cut-up small fish, minnows both alive and dead, and catfish dough baits. When you go on your fishing trip and get to your destination, ask around at the local tackle and bait shops as to what bait works best there for catfish. But don't forget to take along some chicken livers and raw shrimp, as these are two baits I have used to catch tens of thousands of catfish over the years.

Chicken Liver Works Best!

I can't say enough about chicken liver. It's the best catfish bait you'll ever find, followed here in western North Carolina by cut bait. I fish a few farm ponds where I actually do better with fresh cut-up shad than I do with chicken liver. But if I ever get in a place where the catfish don't seem to want to hit on anything, I use chicken liver. It will work when nothing else will.

Spring treble hook: made to hold chicken liver or stink bait on the hook. This is the perfect hook to catch catfish with.

Spring treble hook: made to hold chicken liver or stink bait on the hook. This is the perfect hook to catch catfish with.

Spring Treble Hook

If at all possible you should use a spring treble hook so that you can keep chicken liver and stink bait on the hook. Here's what a spring treble hook looks like. Since I started using these hooks I've caught a lot more catfish. And lost a lot less chicken liver to hungry catfish. And you can do the same thing.

More Catfish Tips and Tricks

The Best Time to Fish

You will have the best luck catching catfish in the last hour after dark. In the summer, you can almost always do better fishing for catfish at night than in the day time. You will need to be prepared for mosquitos and other bugs, at night especially. Here in western North Carolina, I do good fishing in big holes in the rivers at night.

Be Still

Remember catfish like to take the bait that is laying still. So don't be bouncing your bait or reeling it in and out.

Be Quiet

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Keep the noise down and don't play music while fishing for catfish unless you're using earplugs. Noise seems to bother catfish. So keep that in mind.

Where to Fish

Once you fish a particular farm pond long enough, you'll learn where the best places are for catfish there. You should always keep a journal with pages for every farm pond that you fish. Make careful notes and you can refer back to it when you need to. You will catch more catfish in three to five feet of water than anywhere else. There may be deeper water, but I bet you'll do better at the edges of a deep hole where the water is shallower.

One More Thing

Keep in mind that you're going to need a fishing license, especially in N.C. Be sure to read and know your local fishing laws where you go fishing. Most areas offer the local fishing regulations in a book or online.

25-pound catfish from a farm pond

25-pound catfish from a farm pond

Farm Pond Catfish

Believe it or not, a lot of those farm ponds contain some really large catfish, so if you can get permission to fish, why not plan a fishing trip to a local farm pond for some of the best catfishing you will ever find anywhere.

For the average farm pond fishing trip, you will need a 6-foot rod or two with spinning reels on them, with some good heavy-duty fishing line as you are probably going to be catching some large catfish. You will want a rod stand for your rod, or a rod stand for each if you are using more than one. And for farm-pond catfishing, I would strongly suggest using chicken livers or green shrimp (fresh frozen shrimp) for bait. And unless it's illegal in your area, use treble hooks to catch those big channel catfish you often find living in farm ponds.

Cast your baited hooks into the water and allow the bait to sink. Then tighten up your line and set your rod down on the rod stand. If you're fishing in a good spot, you're going to see the end of your rod bounce up and down and then the line will be pulled straight out. Then grab the rod and set the hook. Hopefully, you will have just caught one of those monster catfish we all hear about, and you better have your camera handy.

Farm Pond Tip

Always watch out for turtles when you have your fish on a stringer in a farm pond. They can easily sneak up and eat part or all of your catch before you even know it.

 You can catch some really big catfish in farm ponds. The catfish in this photo was caught in a farm pond.

You can catch some really big catfish in farm ponds. The catfish in this photo was caught in a farm pond.

Things to Bring on Your Catfishing Trip

There are some other things you may want to take along on your farm pond catfishing trip.

  1. Pliers for removing hooks from the fish's mouth
  2. A folding chair for each person on the trip
  3. Mosquito repellent
  4. Sun screen
  5. Several washcloths or dish cloths for clean-up
  6. A radio (with earplugs) to listen to while you fish
  7. An ice chest, for some cold drinks and a place to keep your chicken livers and shrimp
  8. A good knife for cutting bait, etc.
  9. A fish stringer or fishnet pot to keep your fish in after you catch them
  10. A good fishing hat; especially if it's hot without shade where you're fishing.

Cooking Your Big Catfish

Keep in mind that those big catfish can be cleaned and cut up into excellent catfish nuggets. Add slaw, french fries, and hushpuppies, and you will have a excellent meal.

Have A Great Trip

So I guess that's about all. I hope you have a great fishing trip and I hope I told you something here that will help you to catch a few more fish. And if you like, feel free to post a comment down below, beneath these videos full of catfishing tips!

© 2009 Thomas Byers


perry on March 31, 2016:

thanks for advice, I really appreciate the tips and your time. Been cat fishing most of my 63 years but can always learn, most has been trotlining and now am trying to get to catching them on rod and reel.

Jake on September 07, 2015:

I've caught a lot of catfish on cut bait more than I have chicken livers. My most recent catfish trip I actually started out using a rod and reel, then found a whole of huge catfish weighing anywhere from 20 to 55 pounds. I caught 8 all with my hands. Biggest one I could get to was 40 pounds. They where all flathead catfish. My hands were hurting then next day. My tip to anyone is to use gloves if you want to do that.

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on January 05, 2015:

Good luck on the fishing. Thanks for the comment.

xt350 on January 05, 2015:

Hi....not really a 'fisherman' been to 'Goa' india just recently and caught a small catfish casting from the beach... going back soon... and got all my tackle at the ready... wish me luck !!! Gary

Alan from West Georgia on February 09, 2014:

Great article, thanks for sharing your tips.

Eman1001 on December 26, 2013:

Great info

But can u plz post one on techniques if using a dough stink bait on a spring treble!

Age (12)

Josh Woods from United States on May 02, 2013:

Awesome!!! My brother-in-law fishes in competition, but I can count the number of times I have been fishing on my hands and toes. These tips are so useful to me. I do have a question though, what is a good reel and pole to buy for a beginner? I don't want to spend a ton of money until I start fishing more than a few times a year. I usually just borrow gear from friends, but want to put more time into it and possibly partner with my brother in some competitions. Any general fishing tips for someone with little experience other than getting out there and gaining experience? Thanks for the great hub and in advance for the help.

Joshua Rueff from Kansas City on March 19, 2013:

Voted up, great post! The lake I fish at was just stocked with thousands of blue cats, so I'm hunting primarily for them - any tips?

I'm used to tracking down channels and sometimes flatheads (rarely), but have never caught a blue, so I've made it a personal goal. Would appreciate whatever advice you can give me!

Ashland M. on December 01, 2012:

My fiancé and I took my younger siblings out fishing one night this past summer. My little sister, who is quite the girly girl, managed to hook herself her very first cat! Weighed in at 14lbs and wouldn't even fit on the stringer (we use the metal clamp kind). NEVER will I forget the look on her face!!

tyler lockenour on July 05, 2012:

the best way to get cats are raw beef liver on a spring tremble hook if the the snapping turtles don't get it.

larry qualls on July 02, 2012:

we went catfishing friday night here in tn and caught 40 small ones about 2 pounds and 5 that weight between 12 and 15 pounds each using chicken liver,,we use elastic thread to wrap our liver with,,good luck guys

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on June 21, 2012:

Thanks for the tip. It is appreciated.

Walter Black on June 21, 2012:

There are treble hooks that are sold in most all tackle shops (even at Walmart) that come per-equipped with a spring built on. These work great for holding liver and prepared dough bait. I have used these for years now and have caught hundreds of cats. Happy fishing.

Shane on May 17, 2012:

A great tip for keeping your liver on you hook is to use sewing thread its much easier to take off than pantihose. Another good tip isusing live bait. if you ever get a chance to go to a paylake look at the setup they use to catch them and ask for advise it will make pond fishing much easier.

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on April 10, 2012:

If the day is warm to hot the catfish will move into deeper water especially in farm ponds.



devon on February 28, 2012:

thanks yall tose are some good tips caint wait to go fishin.

ranimill on July 27, 2011:

this is great info.i have some experiences in catfishing. catfish are day crawlers it means easy to get more catfish at daytime rather than night. but the info are very good for the beginner.thank you

Johny on February 18, 2011:

This a great web site I can't wait to try all the new tips hears a secret that really works ( let your shrimp sit in the sun for about two hours, stick it on the hook cast it out and the catfish can't resist). :) happy fishing

rangerler on November 03, 2010:

hey i a 15 years old and i say any bodys best bet is to go to a hot stream catch brim in the hot stream you r fishing in and while they r still alive put them on your hook and uu will cath ant where from 5 pound flat heads to 80 pound flatheads and wat i use to catch these catfish is a 6 foot tide water rode and a shakespere reel with 850 feey on it and 50 pound test so good luck!

charlie cattman on August 23, 2010:

i use 25 lb braid

Mattz11 on August 07, 2010:

I need a little help. Is it better to use braided catfish line or mono

Mattz11 on August 06, 2010:

I use chicken liver a lot and on one of my regular trips to a local catfish farm caught a 11lb. cat (age13)

charlie catman on July 20, 2010:

i went to the alligator river and caught a 15 pound channel cat on shrimp!!

charlie catman on July 16, 2010:

im goin to the tar river to catfish with liver and shrimp. i guy i know caught a 20 pound catfish! im excited. any tips?

Thomas Byers (author) from East Coast , United States on July 01, 2010:

If you go cat fishing on a hot day at noon your best bet is to fish at the bottom of a deep hole with shrimp and hope you'll find a big hungry catfish.

The best time to go cat fishing is early morning , early evening and at night. With night fishing producing the most fish.

brady on June 28, 2010:

for all of you guys who asked how to keep your bait on the hook, if u would have actuall read the entire post you would have seen that it said to rap your bait in a piece of pantyhose so it stys on better,

charlie catman on June 26, 2010:

i have just started catfishing and have a prob. i always loose my doughbait. how can i fix this! (age 11)

cat master on May 27, 2010:

i got a 20 pound flathead on fresh shrimp seems to work well for catching the big ones they cant resist the shrimp

ryan wheeler on May 24, 2010:

How can I get catfish to bite at noon on hot days

imaperson on May 17, 2010:

hello, i am 15 years old and love to catfish,but never catch very many. I have dreams of going pro and fishing pro tournaments! so i was wondering if anybody could give me some tips or secrets, maybe such as baits,rigging,or locations...etc. i would really appreciate it!!!!!!!!!! THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tara on April 02, 2010:

heading to Wild Bills tonight to do some catfishing. Wild Bills never dissapoints last year my son caught a 60 lbs catfish!!!

tournamentfisher1 on February 10, 2010:

i am 13 years old, this summer my dad and i fished the Valley catfish tournament in iowa, out of 52 boats we took 29th with about 7 pounds (really bad day). but right before we left to head to weigh in i caught a 6 pounder and when we weighed in we won big fish and 250 dollars (bad day turned good!!!!!). so come down and fish davenports local tournaments on the mississippi!!!!!!!!!!!!!

tom on July 02, 2009:

great advice

Rufus Rufo on July 01, 2009:

Good advice...i am going out tomorrow to North Park Lake, PA and i hope to catch some kat.

I've been using Eagle Claw liver sentet soft bait...however it always falls off my hook in way less than 5 min. i pull it in half and wrap it around my treble hook and press it together. am i doing something wrong if so contact me at or if you have an still a noob and am getting ready to buy a new rig anyhow because i bought a Diawa which was a waste of money.

Blue on April 10, 2009:

Great information..

vinnie on March 13, 2009:

good reading for catfish hunters like myself. thanks for the info!!!!!!

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