Catfish Tips for Lake Fishing

Written by erik devaney
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Catfish Tips for Lake Fishing
An example of a catfish. (catfish image by Earl Robbins from

Lake fishing for catfish requires mixing basic catfishing know-how with some specialised techniques for coping with lake conditions. Fishermen in the southern United States commonly noodle for catfish along the banks of rivers and streams---a process that involves sticking your arm under the water and under submerged obstructions in the hopes that a catfish latches on. Lake fisherman reel in more catfish using the standard line and reel method.

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According to Ask about Catfish Fishing, catfish prefer warmer temperatures, and typically spawn in 75- to 80-degree waters. It is best to fish for catfish in lakes that are in southern parts of the country that have warm climates. If you live in an area with colder climates, try finding large lakes that do not freeze solid during winter. It is not impossible to catch catfish in cold lakes, just less likely.

Depth and Location

It is a common misconception that lake catfish prefer only the deep sections of a lake's basin. According to Lake Avalon Fishing, catfish prefer shallow waters---less than eight feet---during many parts of the year, particularly winter. If you are looking to pull in some catfish from a local lake, try fishing close to and along its shores. Position yourself near areas with obstructions, such as fallen trees and patches of aquatic vegetation where catfish commonly hang out.


One of the best baits for catching catfish in lakes is live or freshly dead shad, which are small baitfish. Catfish are attracted to their movements and their scent. Another good option is to use commercial stink baits, also known as punch baits, which manufacturers lace with potent, odorous compounds to attract catfish.

You also can make your own bait using ingredients from the grocery store. According to Ask about Catfish Fishing, mash up cheese, mix it with ground chicken blood and liver, and let it sit in the sun for a few days. Mix in some flour and roll the bait into balls. Mold these catfish bait balls onto your hook.

Line Setup

Choose a strong line. Usually catfish are large and aggressive. Use 20-pound test line or greater. Test is a measure of the line's strength, not an indication of how much weight a line can hold. For example, a 20-pound test line will be able to support a fish that is much heavier than 9.07 Kilogram.

Use a sturdy, stainless-steel hook. Alternate using double and triple hooks, which may help increase your chances of hanging on to a catfish after it bites.

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