Nine Steps to Becoming a Better Catfish Angler


Catfishing is taking off, and in many circles it’s considered the fastest-growing segment of fishing. This type of fishing is getting more press, and why shouldn’t it since this huge species is being caught on a consistent basis? Nowadays, it’s common to see blue cats over 100 pounds.

Social media catfish groups reveal many people getting into catfishing, and those who have always done so are now going even more all in and upping their game. Even those who have fished for other species mostly are changing at least part of their focus to catfishing.

As the catfish world catches up with the likes of bass or walleyes, there are some simple steps to help you become a better, more efficient angler.

1.Know your catfish.
The best catfish anglers are students of this fish, knowing and understanding what makes them tick including spawning, habitat, patterns and what triggers them to do what they do. Successful anglers understand seasonal migrations and what dictates their location throughout the season. They also know about baits and the best ways to present them for consistent success.

2. Fish the best catfish waters.
The best catfishermen fish the best destinations. Larry Myhre, outdoor writer for the Sioux City Journal in Iowa, wrote, “You should fish where the fish are.”

This does not just mean the best places for catfish, but also the best times of year, times of day and locations—all while using the best baits and methods to catch more and bigger catfish. If budget won’t allow travel across the U.S., pick the best catfish water nearby you can get to on your budget.

3. Be mentally prepared.
Successful guides are some of the most mentally prepared anglers around. They have to produce fish every day, but when fish don’t cooperate they have to find a way to put a positive spin on things to keep clients entertained. They have to tweak the plan and adjust in hope of finding success. The guides have an extremely positive attitude, saying, “The next catfish is just one anchor drop away.” They are able to focus on connecting the dots to find what will put fish in the boat while ensuring that guests have a good time and feed off their emotion.

4. Have confidence in catfishing.
This could fall into the category of being mentally prepared, but it’s such an important piece of the puzzle, and can stand on its own. Confidence is “knowing” or demanding success. If you don’t believe you can catch catfish in every situation, you probably won’t. If you’re sure of yourself—techniques, knowledge, electronics and gear—you then are prepared to succeed and won’t accept anything less.

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5. Work hard.
The best anglers work the hardest. They aggressively move in search of active fish, efficiently covering more water to put more in the boat within the allotted time. They study their surroundings and utilize their electronics to locate fish, matching their findings with knowledge that they have learned over the years. On-the-water success directly correlates with hard work off the water too, such as preparing a game plan and reviewing catch records and notes to head off any situations that may and will arise.

6. Use top-notch equipment.
The best catfish anglers don’t always use the most expensive equipment, but always use the best equipment that can stand up to the constant abuse that it must endure, from electronics to rods and reels to hooks to sinkers and nets. They also maintain equipment to keep it in working order so there are no surprises on the next outing.

7. Understand and use all available technology.
Technology is what sets advanced anglers apart from the crowd. For example, with the new Humminbird Helix G2N or Solix units, catfish anglers now have access to the best side-image technology with MEGA imaging. They also have the newest weapon in catfishing on uncharted rivers and lakes with AutoChart Live.

They can also run side imaging while mapping to get a lay of the land, spotting fish in the process. Once this is done they simply go back to the areas of the map that hold fish, directly increasing catfishing efficiency.

8. Be organized.
Have a plan of where to start fishing based on previous days, weather conditions and time of year. Efficient anglers are also organized in that their gear is set up and ready to go. Bait is loaded in an easy-to-get-to bucket or other compartment. Also, their boat is clean and tidy, allowing for easy movement and the ability to find everything.

9. Pay attention to the details.
Everything stated so far are details, but now that you’re out on the open water, you need to pay attention to what is going on. How is the weather and what are the water conditions like? What are the fish reacting to and how are they biting? By paying attention to these small details, you can make adjustments and fine-tune the gear and pattern the baits to the situation. Sometimes, these conditions change two or three times a day, and attention to detail and your ability to go with the flow can maintain success through it all.

These nine suggestions can make you a better catfish angler. They’re steps that all great anglers apply for catching a variety of fish species. You probably won’t be able to master all of these overnight, as fishing is an ongoing adventure. But over time you can learn and adapt to these steps as second nature, making you a better angler. There truly isn’t a better teacher than time on the water. By following these simple steps, your time on the water will be more effective and enable you to become a more efficient and successful catfish angler.