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How To Catch Big Catfish Part 1 - Where and When to Catch Catfish in Lakes, Rivers and Reservoirs

I Don't Make My Living Fishing, I'm Living To Fish.

My name is Gary Turner and I love to fish.

I don't make my living fishing, I'm living to Fish.

This hubpage is about catching big catfish.

I love catfishing and going after the monster cats.

Whether you are new to catfishing or have been doing it your whole life,

I hope you will learn something from this hubpage.

Please if you have any insights, tips or great catfishing advice or questions

feel free to put them in the comments box.

Thanks Gary

How to Catch Big Catfish - Part 1

Are You In Search Of Big Catfish?

Monster Catfish, World Class Trophy Catfish,

You've Come To The Right Place.

How to Catch Big Catfish is a 3 part series with some additional Hubpages by Gone Fishin Club for other Catching Big Catfish Information.
Here's what you need to know to greatly improve your chances of taking a trophy catfish. Many fishermen think that catching a trophy cat should be fairly easy. We see all the pictures on the internet and magazines showing all these giant catfish. It's true there are lots of trophy catfish caught each year, but it's not as easy as one might think. The good news is that more and more big catfish are being released after they are weighed, measured and photographed. Catch and release improves everybody's chances of catching a trophy catfish.

Where Is The Best Place To Catch A Trophy Catfish?

You can target big blue catfish and big flathead catfish in many large river systems and reservoirs in the Midwest, South and Eastern United States.

The Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and James River systems all contain World Record Class Catfish. Lake Texoma , Lake Marion, and Lake Moultrie also hold World Record Class Catfish. Most larger river systems and lakes hold trophy class cats from 30-50 pounds. You can catch them in smaller rivers and lakes but your best chances are in the bigger waters.

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Some Santee Cooper Blue Cats

Gary Turner with two blue catfish caught in July on Lake Marion, Santee Cooper.

Gary Turner with two blue catfish caught in July on Lake Marion, Santee Cooper.

Best Time to Fish for Giant Catfish

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Fish For Giant Catfish?

There are several factors here such as season and moon phase, but generally in the summer months you can target blue catfish both day and night with good results. The flathead catfish are generally much more active at night, with many larger fish caught around midnight to 3 am. Full moon nights can be slow, so pass on these if you can reschedule to another night. Flatheads can be caught at any time day or night, but your chances are much greater at these peak times.

What Are The Best Months To Catch Trophy Catfish?

If you are chasing giant blue and flathead catfish, the summer months, when the water levels are generally lower, is the best time to target them. The warmer water makes the catfish more active and feed more. Another great season to catch big blue catfish is in the winter when most fishermen are waiting for spring to come. Those that know this secret are out killing themselves reeling in the big blues. It's a blast. This season is normally from November to January and sometimes extends into February.

Flatheads often will feed aggressively from late September through late October as they fatten up for the winter. The flathead catfish fishing slows through the winter and picks up again in the spring.

Gary Turner with a nice Flathead Catfish

Gary Turner with a nice Flathead Catfish

Gary Turner with a nice Flathead Catfish

Good Fat Blue Catfish

Gary Turner with a good Santee Cooper Blue Catfish.

Gary Turner with a good Santee Cooper Blue Catfish.

Where Will The Giant Catfish Be?

Where Will The Giant Catfish Be Lurking?

Flathead catfish like deep holes with cover on the outside edges of the rivers bends. Look for large logjams, cast under the edges and let your bait drift in and then hang on. If the outside bends are too strong to fish try to find some inside bends with less current to fish.

In large lakes and reservoirs look for the big flatheads in areas with lots of cover, submerged brush piles, or stumps. They often travel in old river and creek channels in these lakes and reservoirs. Often at night they will travel these channels emerging at the edge of shallows where they come to feed. Position yourself along these areas and wait for them to arrive.

Blue catfish will often be found in similar areas as the flathead catfish.

The blues can sometimes also be found a little deeper along drop-offs and ledges.

For more information on How to Catch Big Catfish,

See Part 2 of this article. How to Catch Big Catfish Part 2

Night Fishing for Big Blue Catfish

Gary Turner with a good blue catfish caught while night fishing on Santee Cooper.

Gary Turner with a good blue catfish caught while night fishing on Santee Cooper.


Want To See More Pictures From Our Catfishing Trip?

To see some more pictures from one of Gone Fishin Clubs

Catfishing trips to Santee Cooper go here

Catfishing at Santee

By joining Gone Fishin Club you become eligible to win a trip to Santee to chase Monsters Cats with Gary and the crew.

We also have drawings for other trips, club logo hats and shirts.

So what are you waiting for, JOIN NOW! Did I mention it was FREE!

Another Nice Flathead!

Another Nice Flathead Catfish! Gary Turner fishing on Santee Cooper!

Another Nice Flathead Catfish! Gary Turner fishing on Santee Cooper!

Catching Catfish On Santee Cooper

Catfishing Information

Blue Catfish on a Windy Day

Gary Turner with a blue catfish caught in the late afternoon.

Gary Turner with a blue catfish caught in the late afternoon.

Catfishing Resources I use.

If you are looking for a great place to get catfishing tackle and equipment talk to David Ashby at Bottom Dwellers Tackle. If you ever dreamed of having your own custom fishing rod then you need to talk with Lyle Stokes of Blackhorse Custom Rods, he builds some really awesome rods at prices that will make you say " why did I wait so long to order a custom rod".


Genevaughan on June 27, 2015:

can you tell me the best bank fishing lakes and rivers to visit in the Milw, Wisconsin area on January 15, 2015:

what is a good bait please email me...

jcountryboy on July 26, 2014:

Been fishing green river in Ohio county Ky river is really low little rain and temps between 86 to 91 fished deep holes in and outside of bends with cut or live bluegill still nothing fished deep in days. Shallow at night dnt care bout type of cats just want a trophy what am I doing wrong

billyhall4406 on June 06, 2014:

G.F.C. I fish the ohio river around evansville in i spent the whole summer last year trying to hook into one of those monster cats like my grandfather used to do.i never once had the slightest bite from one of them. I cant seem to figure out how to fish for either the big blue's or big flathead's in the summer month's.i use bait that they are familiar with like shad.CAN YOU HELP ME OUT IM STRUGGLING

jeremiah Stewart on April 29, 2014:

I fish in the rivers in south carolina, and I just cant seem to catch big catfish.Ive trued the banks and everything, can you help me with some advise please ?

buddy on February 21, 2014:

I fish in the tennessee river and i have had my best luck at night in tge summer with the biggest being i cant find them this time of year can anyone help???

royy on December 21, 2013:

to in crease chance of catching larger catfish, study their habits....1. when travel from deep water to shallow water...2.when they spawn...3.might be coming upstream to spawn, sit at mouth of creek and catch them coming in....may, june, they will be hungary....let big ones go, eat smaller....roy

Jared on September 16, 2013:

Hell I just recently moved close to the Mississippi river In Southern Mo I have caught lots of catfish from the Meramec river where i used to live. But I have been fishing from the bank and I have been fishing the wing dikes along the Mississippi and have only caught one blue cat about 1lb on chicken liver i have also used fresh cut bluegill heads and whole fish multiple times with no success. I been fishing the back sides in the deep scour holes and on the outside point to the back side where the current break is any help on what i could do to be more productive? Any help would be greatly appreciated thanks!

george raymond on July 14, 2013:


johnnie on May 28, 2013:

curious on some places to go around blounts landing on lake marion i have two kids who love to fish my wife and self included. i have a few places to go sort of speek but never really produce any fish.... any where you could think of for me to take the kids would be great and very appreciated

thanks in advance

Kkk on April 27, 2013:

I can't catch a catfish if I was fishing in a mud puddle in the tuscarawas river

frank crouch on April 24, 2013:

I'm a 72 year old fisherman and just retired for the 3rd time this time it's for real. Is April / May/june for flathead (yellow cat) in wheeler lake TN RIVER a good time to fish.

Ryan on January 12, 2013:

i like to fish deep water using live shad. i hookmy shad through the nose and drop it about 20 feet down in 30 foot water at the damn

Gone Fishin Club (author) on November 27, 2012:

Hey Randy, that is awesome, if you have a good pic, email it to me and I will post it. gary at

Interesting bait, chicken strips with cherry cool aid, sounds great. I know a local lady who uses Vanilla extract soaked chicken livers.

Hope you catch some more big ones soon

If you have more questions please post them here or email me-

gary @ take out the spaces,

Good Luck!!!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Randy on November 25, 2012:

I fish the TN. river near Mouse Tail State park. The going thing has been chicken cut with cherry cool aid. 11-21-12 I was floating in forty ft. water near seventy foot water on a sand bank when i landed a 55lb blue.

Gone Fishin Club (author) on August 15, 2012:

Hello Steven McCartney,

sorry so long in response, I have been in Alaska fishing for a few weeks. As far as Lake Tawakoni, there are giants cats in there!!! Like this new lake record, set on March 1st at Lake Tawakoni. Dan miles of arlington caught the mammoth, 82.35 lb. blue catfish on a rod and reel using cut shad. It was 51 inches in length and had 38 1/2inch girth. I have tried to find contact info for Dan but have not found him yet. I was going to see if I could get you and my other readers some more info on this catch. We do know he was using cut shad for bait. The size of cut bait can be an important factor. Sometimes the catfish like pieces cut the size of a quarter and sometimes they love big chunks. If you are bank fishing try one of each, also my goto for big cats is live bluegills. Any of the bream - perch family work well, green sunnies are a great strong long lasting bait. Perch can also be very hardy. If you can catch some live bream, use one or 2 live Carolina rigged. Then also maybe cut one up and use it too. I hope this helps you catch a monster catfish Steven, send us pics of some of your catches!!!

If you have more questions please post them here or email me-

gary @ take out the spaces,

Good Luck!!!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

steven mccartney on July 17, 2012:

I am 11 years old and i have never caught a giant but i surely would love to i usually fish in lake tawakoni but never catch any giants i hope you reply to give me some pointers.

Gone Fishin Club (author) on May 13, 2012:

POST FROM ROBERT: I edited out some information,

Hi my name is Robert, ever since I landed a 25. Pound channel cat at cedar creek lake in Texas I have been hooked on big catfish fishing. I just cant seem to catch anymore big ones I catch little 2 pounders and up. I use two poles both are okuma reels they are bait casting as in trolling and I have a 8 foot nite stick and a 9foot rhino rod I use a penney rig with a treble hook on bottom and a octopus hook on top and for my other pole I have a slip sinker rig with a 6/0 circle hook with a 8 inch leader line I have tried every kind of bait but it's not working.

Ben S- Nekoosa WI on March 26, 2012:

The largest flathead I ever hooked was about a 50+ pounder in about 5 feet of water in a stump field in late afternoon. I thought I snagged on a stump while fishing for Northern Pike with a medium size Strobe spoon... Until my line took of with amazing speed and strength. The mud beast was so heavy and powerful- it was like having a car hooked to the other end of the line... Snapped the biggest line guide eye off, but I fought him up to the edge of the paddleboat, as it's weight bent the brand new strobe spoon's treble hook, I was yelling at my brother to grab it's lip!! He refused to grab the monster- a full size coffee can would fit in it's mouth with plenty of room to spare. With a thrash, he bent the hook straight and was gone.

Just this weekend a guy in nekoosa caught a 48 inch, 63 lb flathead. The Wisconsin river south of Nekoosa and the Petenwell flowage has what it takes!

Gone Fishin Club (author) on March 11, 2012:

Hello Josh, so you are 9 and ready to catch Monster catfish, that is awesome! It would help me tons if I knew what lake you going to fish? If you come back on here today give me some more info please, the lake, what state it is in, if you are going to be bank or boat fishing.

Ok, so I am going to give you the best stuff I know that will work at 90% of lakes and rivers.

Large hooks, unless you are just in a place where there are bullheads or small channels, go big on the hook, I recommend 8/0, you can go as small as 5/0 if you like that better.

Best line you can get, if your dad has a pole with 25 line or bigger see if you can use it.

Cut bait is one of my standard or go to baits, catch some bream, minnows, herring, chub, check regs to see what is legal where you are going fishing, then cut them into pieces about quarter size. For rivers or lakes bottom fishing use a carolina rig, if river fishing you may want to put a small bobber a few inches before the bait to let it sit just off the bottom. If you have a way to know the fish are suspended off bottom then you can use a bobber to adjust your depth and float the bait to them.

That is the short story of how to catch monster catfish.

If you find out there are big blues and flatheads where you are going then step up your game with some live baits put down on the bottom. Bream and sunfish are great if legal to use in your state.

If all of this fails and you know there are fish there try some other baits, a big gob of worms on the hook, hook once or twice in the middle then let the ends wiggle, 4-7 worms on an 8/0 hook. Crawfish live or dead, shrimp, chicken liver, hotdogs, frogs, salamanders, grasshoppers, crickets. These may not sound like monster catfish baits but I know of 2 people who caught catfish over 60 pounds on hotdogs and grasshoppers.

Like I said if you get back on let me know the answers to the questions above and I will get you more detailed answers.

Good Luck!!!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

josh on March 10, 2012:

hi my name is josh im 9 years old and i looooooove catching catfish im going catfishing on my spring break and im going with my dad and my friend and i just whant to inpress them by catching a monster catfish but i dont know how can you pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaase tell me how? your friend,josh gordon

Gone Fishin Club (author) on March 09, 2012:

Hello Ethan, I apologize, I wrote a reply for your questions about Shasta Lake several weeks ago, looking back now I don't see it posted anywhere. Sometimes Hubpages eats my replies, so I will start a new post for you now.

Shasta Lake has Channel cats, white catfish, and brown bullheads. Worms are a good choice for this lake, also live or dead minnows, chicken livers, hotdogs, sardines, and shad. If you use dead shads chunk them into quarter size pieces. Some areas you might try are: Salt Creek, Squaw Creek and Little Squaw Creek west of the Dam. In the spring when the lake is warming up try around the mouth of creeks and streams feeding in, that water may warm faster and also be bring in food. Night fishing is very productive there but as always with night fishing be very cautious. Night fishing can be very dangerous even when fishing familiar waters. I don't know how big the catfish are in Shasta Lake, if you know the lake records for these species of catfish I would love to know them. I searched online for quite awhile with no luck on the catfish records. Good Luck, let us know how it turns out and again I apologize for the missing reply from 3 weeks ago.

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Gone Fishin Club (author) on March 09, 2012:

Hello Damon, search your body of water, look for old river beds or creek beds, these are usually the super highways of big cats, they also like to hang out in these, if these meet a shallow flat close by where they can feed then retreat to deep water, these are good. if you are fishing a river, look for outside bends with deep holes and structure, logs, rocks, boulders, something breaking the water for them to rest behind. The depth is important but not as important as structure. Find good structure and a deeper spot and you should find some big cats nearby. If you find a promising spot and don't get any action after an hour try to find another good spot, sometimes the big cats are there but they are not feeding. There is nothing wrong woith waiting them out if you are sure there are big catfish there, that is up to you, I have set anchored on a spot all night before waiting on that big bite. Just depends on your preference, moving to another spot and testing then revisiting that spot works sometimes too. Good Luck, let us know if you catch any monsters. Thanks for your question.

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Gone Fishin Club (author) on March 09, 2012:

Anthony, 2 more thoughts, wire leaders, I do use them sometimes when I am targeting big cats, I have them made by a bait shop in Florida, look at, they have tons of great catfishing products. Also those catfish should be getting really active soon so get out there as much as you can. You may set the record and break it again. If you find a windy day pushing natural bait back into any coves while you are out there fishing give those pockets a try, sometimes the big cats will follow these wind patterns as they make for a buffet blowing to them. Big cats like to eat!

Gone Fishin Club (author) on March 09, 2012:

Hello Anthony, hello from Georgia, would love to go fishing with you sometime if I make it out your way, go ahead and set a new record and we can try to beat it when I get out there! :) Sorry for the delay in answering your question, I was away in South Carolina fishing myself. :)

Ok, first off I would be using tackle that is set up like I am fishing for 50 pounders, just because nobody has caught one does not mean they aren't there! Large cats will be eating live fish, that being said they will also eat worms, hotdogs, and a vast assortment of other junk. My strategy would be to set out several rods, a shrimp, a hook full of earthworms, some live minnows and bream (check regs) you can hang some under bobbers and carolina rig them also. Nothing like watching a bream suspended 8 feet under a 4" bobber try to run. You know under there somewhere he just saw Jaws shadow. My top choice would be cutbait, fresh caught, quarter size chunks. If you start catching lots of smaller fish try another spot. Use your usual locations, old creek channels, logs, rocks, and structure, humps. Let me know how you do, you can reach me through the contact page, you can also reach me at 678 227 1466, would love to see you set a new record, if I didn't answer any of your questions feel free to give me a reply here or a shout.

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

damon on March 08, 2012:

should i target certain water depths in order to catch bigger catfish.

Anthony Gregory on March 06, 2012:

Howdy from Colorado... I fish Lake Powell, Utah with over 1,800 miles of shoreline at full pool. The lake record is a 26 lb fish, Utah state record is 32. Legends abound of Monster Cat's over a vast, vast area. I intend to blow that record away with a "Legend", but not kidding a bit. What bait would you desire most for a Hog of a Channel Cat? Reading your how to's... that 8/0 circle hook must be a gaff hook Wire leader??? Yes or No???

ethan on February 11, 2012:

I need tips on catfishing I fish in shasta lake Ive only caught one cat fish and it was only two pounds and I wanna catch big ones I fish with worms or power bait and I never catch anything I need some tips thanks

Gone Fishin Club (author) on September 27, 2011:

Hello Pat, hope you been catching some big blues :) I think the next baits you should try are fresh cut bream, try them on the bottom with a carolina rig and also you can a 3 way rig to get it off the bottom a little and also you can walk the bait with that rig. Let me know how you do.

Good Luck!!!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Gone Fishin Club (author) on September 15, 2011:

Hey Pat, I am about to be out the door to go catch bait myself but will give you a quick reply now and more info later. Cube up those eels, I have had good luck using it for bait. If you ever catch any small ones use them whole. If you have a fish finder are you seeing and good sized cats or fish suspended under bait in the main channel area? If so note the depth and try drift floating to them, I use 4" bobbers with live bait under them and drift it to suspended fish. It is worth a try just to see wht you get into. You can use big slip bobbers if you are going very deep. I will get you some more info later,

Good Luck!!!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Pat on September 15, 2011:

I fish the Intracoastal Waterway between Myrtle Beach and Bucksport SC a great place for backwater fish. There are plenty of blue catfish but it has been difficult to catch the big ones. I usually find a place where the ICW meets with other systems like the Waccamaw River and find a nice cove area off the main. I seem to catch more monster eels and many smaller blue catfish but am not able to get any big catfish unless I set a drop hook or trot line which I don't like doing because it takes all the fun out of the fight. I usually use many different baits including nightcrawlers (they seem to work best), chicken liver or gizzards, prepackaged catfish baits, eels, live minnows or cut bait. I have caught many huge catfish in Pa on Lake Wallenpaupack, the biggest 34lbs so I am not new to this but since we moved its a different place, different natural food, different technique and it is proving to be, well, difficult. Any help on baits, line rigging or other information would be really helpful. I am really in need a of a killer catfish bait that would work the best for where I am and what I want.

Gone Fishin Club (author) on August 19, 2011:

Hey Zach, where are you fishing at? What size line are you using? I guess the first thing I would say is make sure your hook point is exposed. If your bait is too big to get some good point exposure go to a bigger hook, catfish can open their mouths really big. Do you have flatheads and big blues there? If you do try some live baits too. Here is another Hubpage with some more info on baits.

Write me again and let me know where you are fishing and I will see what else I can tell yuo to help you catch some big catfish.

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

zach on August 19, 2011:

i just got in2 catfishing this year still havent caught 1:( i usually use cut bait (sheep head, or blue gill or rock bass. ive gottten a lot of hits but no hooks, and the one hook i did get he snapped my line rite at shore. (i forgot to set drag)

Gone Fishin Club (author) on July 24, 2011:

Hello #1stunna, The bite should be on good right now, find some drops or ledges in the water that are showing fish, if for example there is a flat that is 5-8 feet deep with a creek channel or ledge beside it anchor up and fish both. Do you have any creek channels or river beds where it comes close to the bank, fish the ledges and flats right around those. Look for some structure like rocks or stumps that may be holding fish. If they are generating anchor up current of the spots you are trying to fish and cast back onto them. Again look for structure that would give the fish a place to ambush bait as it passes them in the current. This is where you should find some fish. What are you using for bait, I would use live bream for flatheads and cutbait for blues and channels right now. I hope this helps a little.

Good Luck and send us pictures of any monsters you catch to gary at

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

#1stunna on July 23, 2011:

I can't catch any big fish in the lakes on the tennessee river. I use my electronics and the lake is 80ft deep but all the fish are 30ft or shallower? Should I fish steep deep banks or main lake flats close to deep water or creek channels? I don't know where to even start for where to hunt down the monsters

Gone Fishin Club (author) on July 19, 2011:

Hello Will,

Sounds like you are doing great catching some nice cats up there. Thanks for sharing your best baits with us, good luck and I hope you catch one of those 35 pound cats soon.

From the looks of it there are lots of different species of fish in there.

Also did you know you might catch a Million Dollar fish in this lake? If you are going to fish for the million dollar fish make sure you register to win before you catch it.,0,6968252.s...

They didn't tag any catfish? What is up with that? I guess maybe they don't know how many million catfish anglers there really are!

Good Luck!!!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Will on July 11, 2011:

Been fishing for channel cats the last few years in lake wallenpaupack. I've gotten pretty damn good at it too! I fish for cats between midnight and 5 am, trust me it's by far the beat time to go. I regularly catch 8+ lb cats on gulp dough stink bait (mostly bloody bloody), and dead herring. I've had most my luck on the dead herring, especially this past week when I landed a 17 lb. Channel cat at 3am! Nearly 3 ft. Long it's my biggest catch in the lake to date, and I've been fishing it my whole life! From what I hear that's about half as big as they actually get in paupack. I hear stories of 35 lb cats around 44 inches long. Let's see if I can get one this week:)

Gone Fishin Club (author) on June 30, 2011:

Hello Jack, hey I had a few other baits I was going to mention but got sidetracked there somewhere thinking ahead about flatheads, sorry. Channel cats also love cut bait, fresh cut bream, gizzard shad, and threadfin shad. Hope that helps and you catch some real monsters. Take care , Gary

Gone Fishin Club (author) on June 29, 2011:

Hello Jack, well just looking at Minnesota's catfish records I think ya'll are in for some great channel and flathead catfish fishing.


Catfish, Channel: 38 pounds, 44 inches, Mississippi River (Hennepin County), 1975.

Catfish, Flathead: 70 pounds, length not available, St. Croix River (Washington County), 1970.

Bullhead, Black: 3 pounds, 13.12 ounces, 17.17 inches, Reno Lake (Pope County), 06/08/1997.

Bullhead, Brown: 7 pounds, 1 ounce, 24.4 inches, Shallow Lake (Itasca County), 05/21/1974.

Bullhead, Yellow: 3 pounds, 10.5 ounces, 17 7/8 inches, Osakis Lake (Todd County), 08/05/2000.

These records are from the Minnesota DNR site.

I love the fact that you have big flatheads there, they are awesome to catch.

Ok, so baits to use, if you are going to try to catch the channel catfish you have tons of choices. Liver works very well, old shrimp do the trick some days, they are also very good for catching turtles too. Store bought stink baits are good for channels too. From there you can try hotdogs, marshmallows, beef jerky, pepperoni, corn, you name it I have caught channel cats on it.

Now Mr. Flathead is a different animal all together, he prefers live bait, you will sometimes catch him on cut baits but live bream, sunfish, bluegill are his favorites. You can also use small bullheads to catch him.

Your state record is 70 pounds so you have some great flatheads there. Please check local regulations on what you can use for live baits. Hope this helps. If you have more questions don't hesitate to ask them here or email me at Gone Fishin Club.

Good Luck!!!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Jack Plonsky on June 14, 2011:

Hey,I live in Minnesota and my friends and I like to fish on the Minnesota river for shovel nosed sturgeon and recently decided to try for some river catfish this summer. I was just wondering what would be some good bait? My friend works at a meat market and we have been using old cow liver, along with night crawlers and some blood bait. We had something that broke my friends 40 pound test last week and he barely got any line in. We are excited to see what we will catch this summer! any other tips would be great!

Gone Fishin Club (author) on June 07, 2011:

Hello Cameron, from what I can tell your rod is rated up to 25 pound line. If you put good strong line on it you should be able to land a very big catfish or monster flathead. If Tim Berg can land a 319 pound record Halibut on a Salmon rod with 40 pound line you should be able to land a big one too. Just make sure you play the fish and use the rod and the drag to wear it down and land it. Please if you do catch a giant flathead take some good pictures and then release it so somebody else can catch a trophy too. Send me a pic to the Gone Fishin Club and you could win Gone Fishin Club Hat.

Good Luck!!!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

cman88 on June 02, 2011:

hi my name is cameron hawkins i am 13 and i have a 8' mediam/heavy action ole' yeller' series rod and real is this big enough to get in a monster flatty

Gone Fishin Club (author) on May 07, 2011:

Hello Richard, thanks for your question. What lake are you fishing in?

By yellow catfish you are talking about a big flathead, I know in Texas they are often called yellow cats.

Be sure to check your state regulations on baits but I would target them with live bream for my first choice, bluegills, perch, sunfish all will do. Also small mud cats or bullheads work great. Me and a buddy went here on Tuesday using little 5" mud cats and hooked a good catfish but lost him. But we did catch a 7 pound and a 4 pound bass on the small mud cats. I like to use an 8 ought Gamakatsu Circle hook. Hook the little catfish and bream up thru the bottom lip or the bream cam be hooked in the top behind the dorsal fin and hung down to cats or even in the tail. The big hook gives you plenty of gap to get the big catfish when he bites.

I hope this helps, if you have more questions just ask me here. Good luck and when you catch that big one send me a pic to

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime"

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

richard on May 05, 2011:

hey gary my name is richard and im 14. like you fishin is my life. i wasnt always into catchin a big yellow cat until lately but now i have the fever for it. i live in texas so big yellows are pretty common but i never can catch one. i was wondering what kinda bait and size hook you use to catch the big ones.

Gone Fishin Club (author) on February 19, 2011:

Hello Outdoorsman, Stink baits are a very popular for catfish but mostly for bullheads and channel catfish. There are several kinds of stink bait, one I like is available at Wal-Mart, it come pre-balled and you just put it on your hook, the night crawler flavor works well here. It is called Magic Bait, also Premo's and Danny King Punch Bait work well. The live frogs are a good bait, are they catching them themselves or do you have a bait shop there that is selling them. I prefer live fish species from the body of water I am fishing if I can get them. Thanks for your comments and questions.


"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels make me Smile"

Gary Turner

outdoorman on February 19, 2011:

I have seen lots of guy fishing from where I live. they use some special bait, maybe its called stink bait or something. Others like using fresh frogs and putting them on a hook and sinking them. they dont last a whole long time but very effective. just remember to bring plenty of frogs

Gone Fishin Club (author) on February 18, 2011:

Hello Fellow Catfishers and Hub readers, my apologies for any one who read my original reply to Steve Cee, I had a typo and it took 3 weeks for someone to bring ti to my attention, if you see any words that are not appropriate on my Hubs please let me know, you can reach me by commenting here or my email is available through the Gone Fishin Club, please do not hesitate to contact me, I love to fish and typing is not my specialty. Hope everyone is getting ready for a great 2011 catfishing season. There were several nice one caught today at a local lake here. Again Steve and Hub page readers please accept my apologies,

Sincerely Gary Turner

Gone Fishin Club (author) on February 18, 2011:

Hello Steve Cee, my first attempt would be using a 3 way swivel, tie your main line to the front swivel eye, a 6"-12" piece of line - about 10 pounds lighter than your main line, if it gets stuck you can break off the weight and get your hook and swivel back - to the bottom eye of the swivel and a 2 foot to 3 foot piece of line on the back eye going to your hook. It should be as strong as your main line. If you are using cutbait you might want to add a float upline of the bait to float it right off the bottom a little. If you are using live bream, perch, sunfish,bluegills bullheads, creek chubs or whatever local live bait you can get you won't need the float. For big flatheads I recommend the live bait. You can catch them on cutbait but I have had better luck on live bait, please check your local regulations on live baits. You will have to size your weight according to the currents, if you can make it just heavy enough for you to pull up on it and get it to walk down stream on the bottom. That way you can work it along hoping to drop it into some holes or under a deadfall or logjam where some big cats will be lurking. Hope this helps and good luck!

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Gone Fishin Club (author) on January 24, 2011:

Hell Steve Cee, my first attempt would be using a 3 way swivel, tie your main line to the front swivel eye, a 6"-12" piece of line - about 10 pounds lighter than your main line, if it gets stuck you can break off the weight and get your hook and swivel back - to the bottom eye of the swivel and a 2 foot to 3 foot piece of line on the back eye going to your hook. It should be as strong as your main line. If you are using cutbait you might want to add a float upline of the bait to float it right off the bottom a little. If you are using live bream, perch, sunfish,bluegills bullheads, creek chubs or whatever local live bait you can get you won't need the float. For big flatheads I recommend the live bait. You can catch them on cutbait but I have had better luck on live bait, please check your local regulations on live baits. You will have to size your weight according to the currents, if you can make it just heavy enough for you to pull up on it and get it to walk down stream on the bottom. That way you can work it along hoping to drop it into some holes or under a deadfall or logjam where some big cats will be lurking. Hope this helps and good luck!

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

stevie cee on January 24, 2011:

There is a nice size river in az called the salt river. giant resivors feed this river so i know there is huge cats!the current is super strong and i want it to hit bottom and stay there how do i get to these giant flatheads

on September 21, 2010:

Hello David,thanks for your question, first off if you are going to go after big cats make sure you have your gear in order.I have another hubpage here that covers equipment.

If you are like me when you hook a giant you want to land him not see equipment failure. For bait for the big flatheads try using live perch or shad to start out with.

Fish and holes,log jams or other cover for the big cats, if you have a dam to fish below try to find the first hole below the dam. These are often good flathead hangouts.

If you don't have any luck with the live bait cut them up and try using them as fresh cut bait. I have caught nearly all my flatheads on live bait but they will hit cut bait too.

As far as luring in the big cats, in my experience you either find them in a spot or you find a spot where you think they will travel past during their feeding and you set up you buffet line there and wait for them to pass and sample some of your offerings.

For the channel catfish I would use the same methods just maybe try some other baits also such as shrimp and big nightcrawlers work good for channel cats.

Here is a site I found with some good pics of what you are after.

Hope this helps and if you have any more questions just put them here in the comments box. If you catch a good flathead or channel let us know that too.

Send me a pic of it and you could win a Gone Fishin' Club Hat.

Good Luck, Gary

david on September 18, 2010:

i live in york pa i am going fishing in the susquhanna river and i am wondering how to catch flatheads and channel cats i have only caught small ones so i wnt to know ho to lure the bigger ones in

Gone Fishin Club (author) on September 06, 2010:

Hello Jake, if it is big flatheads you are after I would use live baits, it's best if they are the same fish the big flatheads eat everyday. Check your local regulations to make sure what is legal for live baits in Kansas. Look for holes or logjams below the dams to be a good place where the big flatheads are waiting for food to come to them. The first good hole below the dam often provides several flatheads. Possible good baits would include bullheads, bream, crawfish, perch and anything else that is naturally occuring in the river system there. Good luck and let us know how you do.

Thanks for your question, Gary

jake mattox on September 04, 2010:

i fish in the neosho river at chetopa in kansas which claims to be the catfish capital of kansas there have been 50+ pound cat caught there wat bait do i use????

Gone Fishin Club (author) on August 23, 2010:

Hello David, can you tell me what river and possibly the nearest landmark you will be fishing near on that river? Without that information I will take a stab in the dark to try and give you some sound advice. If you are fishing a fast river look for structure to fish downriver of, a tree in the water or stump or big rocks where the water slows and a fish might be holed up waiting on a meal to came by. Sometimes you can cast your bait just above these spots and let it drift into them with the current. In a slower river try to find the same type of structures or some deeper looking holes to cast into, you may need to use a weight to put your bait where you want it. If it is a fast river without much cover and structure then add weights and plant it out in a hole or just the middle and wait. Refresh your baits every so often, if I have plenty of bait I like to replace about every 30 minutes on a fast river, slow rivers will usually last longer, you are putting a scent trail downstream of your bait, the fish will smell it and come to find it. For bait I would try cut bait, cut heads, and possibly also even try some stinkbait. If there is a local tackle shop by all means run by and see what local baits they recommend, might be earthworms or you never know what, some even carry special local stinkbaits. Hope this helps and good luck, let us know what you catch.

Thanks for your question, Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

david on August 23, 2010:

hi my name is david and im 13 i am visiting west virginia and am fishing in a river and me and my dad have tried all sorts of stuff and i dont quiet know where to cast and what to use for bait like what part of the river so if you could help me out that would be great

Gone Fishin Club (author) on August 15, 2010:

Hello Jimmy, please excuse my response time, I had taken a quick fishing trip to Alaska and am just getting back online catching up on my emails. Sounds like I need to come fish at your place for some monster catfish, lol. Okay so you tried the stink baits, what about just fresh liver from the grocery store? Also are these channel cats? Shrimp- try to get some discounted ones that are old at the grocery clearance shelf. Small bream might also work. What else is in your lake that they are naturally feeding on??? Crawfish? When you do catch one make sure if you are going to eat them that you check out the stomach contents, this is how I learn a lot about the fish I catch. Are there catawba worms in your part of the country? Ok, well I hope this helps, let me know what works and how you did. Catfish can be very funny feeders too so keep trying, I have caught them on everything from marshmallows to bar soap. Good Luck, Thanks for your question, Gary

josh m on August 11, 2010:

I have fished big flatheads for years. Flatheads love hot humid weather and no water movement. Find a deep hole 18 - 30 ft deep where the water is still. Big chubs with a 2' leader and big egg sinkers to hold it down. I loosen the star drag all the way and pinch a piece of aluminum foil on my line. When the tin foil hits the water you're in for the time of you're life. Big cats take it out slow for about 10' then stop. During that time tighten the star drag push the button and wait. The 2nd time they run is wide open. Set it hard and buckle in.

Alex Gadino on July 26, 2010:

Hey I'm going camping and figured I might as well throw in a pole while I'm cooking and everything. I will be fishing a swift current river and it's around 10-15ft deep, it's normally slow but they are letting water out of the lake that if feeds from. Any idea what size of weight to use. How do you hook your live bait? I've heard alot of people hook it through the mouth and out the top. Thanks Alex

Jimmy on July 25, 2010:


We have a 5 acre lake that has lots of fish in it. We recently bought some floating catfish food and discovered that we have some really big catfish in it. We however can not get them to bite on anything that is on a hook. we have used stink bait but to no avail. It is very frustrating to be able to see these monsters rolling in the water right in front of us but can not catch them. what do you recommend?

Thank you,


Gone Fishin Club (author) on July 16, 2010:

Hello Nancy, thanks for your question.

That is a lot to cover but I will give you the highlights and tell you of another hubpage that has more info on this. Big catfish are usually blue catfish and flathead catfish. Channel catfish do get large in some areas but not like the blues and flatheads. For big blue catfish I would go with cut bait, preferably something native to the local waters but not completely necessary, other raised baits often work well too. For big flatheads I would go with live fish also from the local lake or river. Whatever is a good local food source will work good. Bream, bluegill, perch, herring, bullheads, check your local regulations to make sure what is legal to use, goldfish are a favorite in places too. As for lures I don't really fish for catfish with them. If you are targeting big catfish go with the real baits. Hooks-I use an 8/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle hook. Hope this helps- if you want more info check these other good hubpages or submit me any more questions you have. Look at for more bait information and

Good Luck,

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime" Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

JIM ATKINSON on July 14, 2010:



Nancy Hammopnd on July 13, 2010:

I want to catch a big cat. What's the best fishing bait, lures and hooks to use???

Gone Fishin Club (author) on July 02, 2010:

Hello Colton, the catfish at Englebright Lake like worms and live minnows, your idea of cut bait should work fine too. Liver might work well there too, give it a try. Catfish will feed all over so if you aren't getting any bites in one area after an hour or try another. The rocky area might be a good place to start. Also if the wind is blowing in on your side of the lake try to fish the area where the wind is stirring the waves just a good cast from the bank. Good Luck,

Let us know how you did and what worked for you.

Thanks for your question, Gary

Gone Fishin Club (author) on July 02, 2010:

Hello xtrememx98, I have not fished that area you are at but a couple of ideas come to mind to try. Try fishing in the evening and at night some if you can. Try stickbaits, some cut bait, herring, shad, bluegill and see if you have any luck with those. One thing I have learned about catfish is they are a lot like cats sometimes - finicky about what they want for lunch. One day they hit worms like a missle and the next it is shrimp or cut bait. So try out some different baits and see if you can find what they are hungry for. The fish will be all over but the dark trenches is a good place to let a bait set and send scent downstream, also those logs may very well be holding some nice cats, may just be a flavor thing there too. Change up the baits and let me know how you do. Good Luck,

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime" Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Gone Fishin Club (author) on July 01, 2010:

Hello Thaddeus,

Thanks for the question, are they flathead catfish? They could be channels, sometimes water conditions will make the catfish very dark colored. The channels there can be very dark bluish to olive green. But they could be flathead catfish. They are often dark green colored also. The Flatheads have a square tail and the channel will have a deep fork. Flatheads also have small eyes and of course flat ot shovel shaped heads. As for the bait rigging, if are dropping down to the bottom directly over the side of the boat can place a weight at the bottom and the put a side line off and hook the bait fish through the body behind the dorsal fin, this way the bait is suspended in a natural swimming position. This will also be very effective if using big bobbers. I use this often when fishing lakes 6-12 feet deep, setting the bobber about 4 feet off the bottom then working lower until I find the fish. If you are using a slip sinker or Carolina rig, you can hook the bluegill through the mouth with the hook pointing back to the front main line through the meaty part of the tail. With all of these make sure your hook is sharp and you have plenty of gap between the body and the hook point. If this didn't answer your question please feel free to reply with another comment. Thanks, Gary

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels Make Me Smile"

Colton on June 20, 2010:

Hey i am about to go fishing in a lake called "Englebright Lake" Its located in northern California. I am leaving this wednsday and i realy need some tips on where to catch them. So far ive got my 6" ugly stick with 15lb test and a 10lb leader, i am thinking of maby a 3-4oz wieght. And my main bait was going to be chicken liver, but i have read that the cut baits work better, so for a cut bait i could just catch a bluegill cut it up, hook a peace on and thro it out? About how far from shore too? This is a pretty cold lake and verry narrow, it comes from the bottom of lake Bereyessa. Oh and there is about a 200-300 foot stetch of sand for the boat-in camping and then pretty steep rocky points. Should i try the sand of the rocky points? Thanks!


xtrememx98 on June 16, 2010:

Hi Gary, I am fishing the Edistow river at Good Hope Landing in Cottageville South Carolina (Colleton county)

are you familiar with this site? I am trying to catch catfish here and the river is flowing pretty good, I have been trying nightcrawlers,green worms, and live shad but nothing seems to be working. There is a small mouth that forks off to the right and goes back into a cove like setting with a few logs and tree shading at the point of the moving water/still water split. I tried by the logs and had no luck. Is there any suggestions you can give me for this type setting bait wise or rig wise? There are multiple sand bars and looks like some dark trenches between the sand bars in the middle of the river also. I usually fish in the mid morning to mid afternoon. It is hot and humid in the 90 degree range.

thaddeus on June 10, 2010:

Hi I do alot of catfishing and i fish on a lake in wisconsin. The lake is manmade and is a damed river. I have been fishing from the dock at night with bluegills and have caught 1 flathead 22lb and a ton of channels all over 10lb. I honestly have not caught 1 fish out of about 15 under 10lb but these channels are weird looking they are very dark no spots whatsoever and im positive there are no blues this far north. Is there a reason they are so dark? Another question what is the best rig for live bait? Like large bluegill and perch for instance.

Gone Fishin Club (author) on June 01, 2010:

Hello Stefen, Ok, so when you say " you lost 3 cats" do you mean your line broke or they came off the hook or ??? If the line broke go up a few test, if the hooks came out try Gamakastu circle hooks, yes, there is some debate about how well these hooks work but as far as catfishing goes for me it's the only hook in my tackle boxes.

As far as catching the monsters, how big are the cats in these pay lakes you are fishing in? In my experience pay lake fish behave a little different than your river fish most of the time. One thing is the pay lakes usually feed their fish so they are not naturally feeding like your river monsters, but also the cats in pay lakes do seem to all start hitting together at times and you might catch 2 or 3 big ones in the same day and not see a bite any other day that week. Again that's the pay lake habits I have seen. The best all around pay lake bait here for the big cats seems to be bream heads. Some homemade stink baits also have been effective. When you do catch that monster please send me a picture, you can email me at gary ?(at) Thanks, Gary

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels Make Me Smile"


stefen peterson on May 31, 2010:

hello my name is stefen and im wating to catch monster catfish out of rivers and pay lakes. last time i went to a pay lake i lost three cats. and i just wanna know some few tips and good baits i could use.

Gone Fishin Club (author) on May 17, 2010:

Hello Tom, well you are on the right track as far as gear. I agree with bigger is definitely better for big cats, especially if you are fishing areas with lots of underwater timber and structure. As for the big blues, I would start out using some good chunks of cut bait, best if it is a local fish you can catch there and chunk. Heads also work good for blues. I usually put these on the bottom or suspended right above it just like for flatheads. What rigging are you using for the flatheads? For river fishing the flounder rig or a modification of it works good. Right now is a great time to catch some big blues. What state are you fishing in?

tom butler on May 17, 2010:

Ive been flat head fishing for quite some time now. My favorite target area,s are fast water with big rocks to hide behind (dam tail waters). 40 pound fish are what i usualy average in these area,s 63 pounds is my best fish to date. The best advice I have for any angler looking for big cats is gear up for it. When that slunger hits (and boy do they HIT) you will be glad you did.When fishing big cats bigger IS better! I am starting out on the moster blue hunt any advice would be greatly apriciated.

Gone Fishin Club (author) on May 16, 2010:

Hello Dawson, what part of the country and what lakes or rivers are you fishing in? Also the cats you are catching what kind are they?

dawson on May 16, 2010:

when i go catfishing i use cut baits, liver iv even tried dip baits but nothin seems to work really good we might catch 1 or 2 fish 3-6 pounds but we never find the wright bait ........ caan u help ????

Gone Fishin Club (author) on May 02, 2010:

Big_Blue, thanks for the question, just off the top of my head I would say try some bigger live baits and maybe some good size cut baits- bream heads work real well for big blues.Try to catch some live baits that are natural to the waters you are fishing. Are there any dams in the areas you fish? If so try fishing the first good wash hole downstream of the dams, big cats like to wait there for coming down from the dam. Let me know if this helps and if not let me know and I will try to get you more info for your area. Are you a member of Gone Fishin Club, if not you can join for free and can email me direct from there. I will also look through Katmasters and see if I can find more info on your area and fish. It is a very good catfishing club also.

What specific towns or locations are you fishing near? Thanks, Gary

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime" Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Big_Blue on May 02, 2010:

I've been fishing in Cedar River and the Mississippi River around southeast Iowa all my life and never caught any monsters like that. I like to use Sonny's Blood Dip Bait but the most i ever catch is a 5 or 6 pound channel cat. I've caught 8+ pound blue cats and flatheads on night crawlers but i want to catch a monster. What should I change to be more successful?

Gone Fishin Club (author) on April 05, 2010:


Hello, what state are you catfishing in? What is your favorite catfish bait there? Thanks for the comment.

Good Luck out there.

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime" Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

cjmo75 from Tempe, Arizona on April 05, 2010:

Wow! Great looking catfish! The biggest one I've caught ws only an 8lb Channel Cat. Nothing like that monster!

Gone Fishin Club (author) on August 17, 2009:

Hello Connor, I sent you an email and did a hubpage for you, hope this helps and you catch a monster catfish. If you do email me a picture to gary(at)

the hubpage is

Thanks Gary

JTB on August 17, 2009:

some catfish are really smart they will sit at the deep side of a dock and at night they will come on the shallow side because theres tonz of little fish there that are perfect for cats so i would fish with minnows on a shallow side of the dock at night but the one that i cought was smaller like 5 pounds but i could care less because i love to catch catfish.