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6 Tips for Hooking Summer Catfish

  • 7/29/2015 9:31:00 AM
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Fishing for catfish is a fun summer activity for the whole family. Bring along a cooler with ice to keep your catch cold and preserve that great taste. Try these simple tips for catching Ol’ Whiskers. 

Fish Rivers
Iowa rivers are loaded with catfish. Look for eddies, fallen trees or brush piles, below riffles or the outside bends of rivers where the water is deeper and there are snags or log jams that provide cover for catfish. Fish upstream of the snags and log jams and cast the bait (prepared cheese/stink baits) back towards it so the scent of the bait is carried downstream into the structure by the current drawing the catfish out. Use the smallest slip sinker possible, a longer rod and 8-pound test line. Also try below navigation and wing dams on the Mississippi River. 

6 tips for catching summer catfish | Iowa DNR

Move Often  
Catfish will either react to the bait or not. If there’s no nibble in 15 minutes, it’s time to move. 

Try Different Baits 
Try different bait on each rod to help figure out what works best (e.g. worm on one and chicken liver on another). Other great catfish baits include cut bait, stink bait, crawdads, frogs or live minnows, and chubs.

Fish After Dark 
Catfish are bottom feeders, so they are more accustomed to cooler water. The water in the shallows gets cooler at night, drawing the catfish in. 

Go Live for Large
Catfish longer than 15 inches primarily feed on live bait, such as large minnows, sunfish or nightcrawlers.  

Cats Fight Back 
Catfish have three spines that can cause a nasty puncture wound or cut: one on each pectoral (side) fin and one on the dorsal (top) fin. The barb is sharp and serrated. Use gloves if you are not comfortable handling a catfish.

Visit our website for more information about Iowa catfish and tips for catching channel catfish throughout the year. Sign up for the weekly fishing report to find out where the catfish bite is the hottest.