NORTH IOWA OUTDOORS: Tips for Catching Summer Catfish

Fishing for catfish is a fun summer activity for the whole family. Bring along a cooler with ice to keep your catch cold and preserve that great taste. Try these simple tips for catching Ol’ Whiskers.

Fish Rivers
Iowa rivers are loaded with catfish. Look for eddies, fallen trees or brush piles, below riffles or the outside bends of rivers where the water is deeper and there are snags or log jams that provide cover for catfish. Fish upstream of the snags and log jams and cast the bait (prepared cheese/stink baits) back towards it so the scent of the bait is carried downstream into the structure by the current drawing the catfish out. Use the smallest slip sinker possible, a longer rod and 8-pound test line.

Move Often 
Catfish will either react to the bait or not. If there’s no nibble in 15 minutes, it’s time to move.

Try Different Baits
Try different bait on each rod to help figure out what works best (e.g. worm on one and chicken liver on another). Other great catfish baits include cut bait, stinkbait, crawdads, frogs or live minnows, and chubs.

Fish After Dark
Catfish are bottom feeders, so they are more accustomed to cooler water. The water in the shallows gets cooler at night, drawing the catfish in.

Go Live for Large
Catfish longer than 15 inches primarily feed on live bait, such as large minnows, sunfish or nightcrawlers.

Cats Fight Back
Catfish have three spines that can cause a nasty puncture wound or cut: one on each pectoral (side) fin and one on the dorsal (top) fin. The barb is sharp and serrated. Use gloves if you are not comfortable handling a catfish.