What Do Catfish Eat and How Can You Catch Them?

Last Updated: 19.05.19


Catfish diets according to age

Catfish are a widespread, diverse group of fish which have characteristic, prominent barbells which look like whiskers, hence the name. Found across the world, from Southeast Asia to Europe and both North and South Americas, they are popular game fish and also commonly caught for their nutritive value.

Catfish dishes are famous and healthy, as they have high levels of vitamin D and fatty acids.

Regarding diet, feeding habits differ significantly with age and breed. Most of them search for food across the water column, from the depths to the surface and are opportunistic feeders, which means they are highly adaptable to whatever the environment offers them.

Some are omnivores consuming plants as well as animals. In muddy waters, their developed olfactory senses help them to find food.

Young catfish do not eat as many things like the adult fish; their diets rely on worms, bugs and small invertebrates which can be easily swallowed. The aquatic larvae are another vital source of food for them.

They will hunt other animals which do not fight back, being easy to capture and eat. Small crayfish are an example of small prey consumed by catfish as they mature.

Catfish have relatively small eyes, which are not too useful when searching for food. The barbells and a developed sense of smell and taste help them find what to eat even in murky or dirty waters. Sometimes they trail their prey by following the wake leading to it, remaining undetected as they approach.

Mature catfish diets

As time passes and the catfish grow older, their diets become more species specific. Even so, most of them will vary their diet depending on what is available as seasons change. Most are carnivores, but breeds such as channel catfish will also eat plants and fruits which fall from the trees in the water, such as berries.

Flathead catfish are predators eating mostly live fish; however, they do not chase, preferring to lie in the murky waters. Fish swimming by are detected with the barbells and ambushed as they unknowingly pass by.

Bullheads search for live food, but they do not refuse dead or decaying fish lying on the bottom.  Frogs, clams, and rodents falling in the water can become prey too.

What is mentioned above is only valid for catfish living in the wild. Farms use specially formulated pellets for raising the fish.

These include about 30% protein and are developed by agriculturists and researchers who documented the feeding habits followed in the wild. These pills can be either floating or submerging, depending on the pond’s temperature.


Ideal timing and location for catfish catching

Regardless of your prey, your chances of success will significantly increase if you own the right equipment. We can help you decide by offering valuable information on great saltwater surf fishing rod and reel combos.

There are around 2,900 different species commonly referred to as catfish, making it one of the largest vertebrate groups in the world.

They are extremely widespread and can be found in shallow ponds, deep cold lakes, and fast rivers, all around the globe. However, biologists have observed that there are certain areas more likely to hold catfish than others.

If you want excellent results, fishing during the night is recommended. Given that their eyesight is usually weak and not helpful, catfish rely on their barbells and their sense of smell and taste to search for food in low light conditions. Shorelines and weedy areas are the best places for catching them during the night.

Daytime fishing might not be as rewarding, but it is easier if you go to the right locations. The tributary and its outflow make for an ideal fishing area, as muddy waters are their favorite feeding place.

Recommended are deeper parts of the lake or river, like the bends or the deeper holes encountered. Standing timber and tall weeds provide excellent cover for the fish, so in daylight, they hold to these spots.


Gear required

Nothing too special is needed to catch catfish. If you are a beginner, perhaps you might want to take into consideration going after small to average-sized fish.

For them, a 6 to 7 foot, medium-heavy surf spinning combo spooled with strong, abrasion-resistant fluorocarbon line will be enough. Bait hooks, treble hooks, egg sinkers, swivels, beads, and fishing bobbers will be useful too.

One can use worms or minnows as bait; if artificial models are used, make sure that their smell is potent. Catfish chunks are suitable for this purpose too. Landing the catfish can be done with a net or lip-grip, and the hook will be removed with long-nosed pliers.



How to catch catfish

As mentioned above, catfish prefer spending time on the lake or river’s bottom. To obtain better results, you will have to use techniques for deeper water. One such method is the slip-sinker rig, which is made by threading a sinker on the mainline, followed by one bead.

Tie the main line to one end of a swivel, and to the other attach a 1 to 2-foot monofilament leader. The hook follows; this rig will be left on the bottom or moved above the floor if thrown from a drifting fishing canoe.

The floating rig is another option. It can be obtained by adding a float above the weight on a slip-sinker. By using this method, the bait can be slowly drifted through weed or areas abundant in wood without getting stuck in the cover. The jig head is also helpful for catching catfish; periodically lift it and drop it along the bottom.

Take into consideration that they usually strike hard and quick, as most are predators relying on ambushing techniques for feeding. However, behaviors such as playing with the bait or circling it for a while are not uncommon.

Feeding line is recommended in this case, so the tension is reduced, and the catfish will not sense any danger.

In conclusion, fishing for catfish is not that difficult. All it requires is attention and, of course, patience. The rigs required are not too difficult to create, and there is no need for fancy, high-end or expensive rods or reels. In the end, it will make your days on the lake more enjoyable and fun.



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