Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish usually feed at the bottom of lakes, rivers and ponds, but occasionally feed at the surface. The best bait for catching Channel catfish includes cheese-based fibrous bait, chicken liver, shrimp, minnows, worms and stinkbait. The best methods for catching Channel cats include bottom fishing, still fishing and drift fishing.

Channel Catfish

Region: Midwest, South
Habitat: Lake, River, Stream

How to identify Channel Catfish

The channel catfish is easily identifiable thanks to its pronounced forked tail and distinct markings. There are only two other species of forked-tail catfish in the U.S., neither of which have markings. Identifying catfish is as easy as counting the number of soft rays in their anal fins. Blue catfish have 30-36 rays, channel catfish have 24-30, and white catfish have 19-23. Swim bladders in catfish differ; channel catfish have two chambers, whereas blue catfish have three.

Where to catch Channel Catfish

Channel catfish can be found in southern Canada, the U.S., and northern Mexico. They are especially abundant in the central-eastern U.S. Sparse populations were introduced to the western coastal regions of the U.S. and east of the Appalachians. They are finicky, preferring the sand and gravel bottoms of big lakes and rivers. As spawning season hits, they move to streams and creeks.

Range: Midwest, South
Channel Catfish Range Map

The following are habitats where you can catch Channel Catfish:

How to catch Channel Catfish

Channel catfish feed mainly during the night. They feed on insects, other small fish, and crayfish. To fish for channel catfish, it is advisable to have an extra-long fishing rod to help flip and pitch them into the boat. The rod should also be very sturdy so it can handle the weight of these heavy fish. Channel catfish have hard mouths, so a sharp hook is also a must. Many anglers opt for treble hooks to keep these fish from escaping. Catfish rigs can also help present bait in a fashion to entice channel catfish to bite. Channel catfish are very slimy due to their lack of scales, so it is important to grip them firmly before attempting to remove the hook.

The following are effective fishing methods and techniques for catching Channel Catfish:

Best Lures, Bait & Tackle to catch Channel Catfish

The channel catfish has a very good sense of smell, so strong scents are great for attracting them. Cheese-based baits work especially well, as do minnows, worms, and stinkbait.

The following are fishing lures, bait and tackle that can be used to catch Channel Catfish: