Alan is a veteran of the US Air Force, a master electrician, and a long-time hobby farmer.
Catfish Have a Favorite Food
The proper bait is really the key to catching bigger catfish. There are a few other things that will definitely help, but using the right bait is the key. The funny thing is, the best bait is usually available for free!
In my experience, catching bait fish from the same water where you are fishing for catfish is going to work very well. I prefer catching shad with a cast net, but there are various bait fish and methods of procurement.
Big Blue Catfish
Top Five Tips for Catching Bigger Catfish
Okay, here are the tips I normally do not share with other fishermen. Some of these things may seem simple or obvious, but learning how to catch big catfish took me years of trial and error. Hopefully these tips will help you speed up that learning curve a little.
These five tips should improve your catfish catch immediately:
1. Get a cast net and learn to use it for catching bait fish. If cast netting is illegal where you fish, get the equipment you will need to catch bait fish legally.
2. Cut your bait fish if it is legal to do so where you are fishing.
3. Use the proper sized tackle for catching large catfish.
4. Know all your local fishing laws and use them to your benefit.
5. Keep your bait in the water as much as possible.
Catch Free Bait With a Cast Net
Get a cast net and learn to use it for catching bait if it is legal where you normally fish. I would consider bait the most important factor in catching larger fish. The best bait you can use is fresh bait fish that you just harvested from the same water where you will fish for catfish. These bait fish are what catfish feed on every day! The cast net takes a little work to learn, but then it will be all the free bait you can use. All the fish in my pictures were caught using fresh cut bait.
If cast netting is not legal in your area, there are other methods of obtaining fresh bait fish. Depending on the laws and the species involved, many bait fish can be caught on a fishing pole. Some places also allow the trapping of bait fish. Learn the laws in your area regarding bait fish and do whatever is necessary to obtain this vital piece of the catfish puzzle.
This is The Cast Net I Use
Use Cut Bait for Catfish
Cut your bait fish, if it is legal to do so in the area where you are fishing. I try to catch the largest bait fish the law allows, then I cut them in half. I put one half per hook. I have experimented with both cut and uncut bait, and I feel like the fresh cut bait works a little better for me. Always cut the bait fresh.
Proper Tackle for Big Catfish
Use tackle that is properly sized for large fish. If you are trying to catch a 50 pound catfish, you better have the right equipment. This does not mean you have to spend a fortune.
I like to jug fish for catfish. On my jug rigs I use 313 pound trot line string, milk jug, half a brick, and a 6/0 trot line hook. Setting up one jug setup costs me about 40 cents.
Know the Law
Know all your local fishing laws and use them to your benefit. Where I normally fish, I am allowed one hundred hooks in the water at any given time. For a big fishing trip I will set fifty jugs with two hooks on each and play the odds. It is also important to know the limits on bait fish, so you don't have too many or over sized bait.
Keep Your Bait in The Water
It is impossible to catch catfish unless you have bait in the water. When pole fishing, you should have as many hooks in the water as the law allows. Keep them out all day, every day. Make sure the bait is fresh every couple of hours, but otherwise, leave them in the drink.
If you are using a trot line or jugs, run your hooks often. I try to check my baited jugs every two hours. Also, I always apply fresh bait before I turn in for the night. If you leave hooks baited overnight, be sure and check them as early as possible the next morning. Run the hooks as much as possible, even during the daylight hours. A lot of fishermen will tell you the catfish bite best at night. That may be true, but the two biggest fish in my photos were both caught during the mid day heat. My biggest catfish ever was caught at twelve o'clock in the afternoon in the blazing July heat!
My Jug Fishing Method in Detail
- Jug Fishing 101
Often referred to as the lazy man's way to fish, jug fishing is far from easy. If your fishing goals for this season include stocking up the freezer, then you should seriously consider jug fishing.
Mid Sized Catfish
Weiss Lake Alabama
Favorite Catfish Bait
Catfish Caught at Night
Follow the Tips
The tips above should start to produce results immediately. Using the right bait will be especially important. Go through the tips one by one and get all the details for your specific fishing area squared away. The next time you go fishing, the catfish will fear you and your friends will envy you!
Catfish Trophy Photos
Do You Love Trout Fishing?
- Trout Fishing in North Georgia
Through trial and error I have located a handful of 'hot spots' for catching trout in the North Georgia Mountains. I have included map locations and fishing tips exclusive to each location.
West Point Lake, GA
Anybody got more big cat tips?
Jeremy Richmond from Hubbard on August 22, 2019:
Awesome hub! I too enjoy tangling with the behemoths of the depths!
Alan (author) from West Georgia on May 24, 2014:
Thanks for your comments DDE, sorry it took me so long to reply. I have been really busy preparing for the upcoming fishing season.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 09, 2014:
Incredible! Your ideas to catching big fish looks very successful and this shows your professionalism in fishing. I like the photos.