How To Catch Blue Catfish
Many new catfish anglers hear about all the stink baits like chicken livers, blood and cheese scented punch bait and dip baits and think that the smellier, the better. While this works ok with channel catfish, blues are a little more picky. experienced anglers will use fresh or frozen baitfish. Shad and bluegill work well dead or alive. It’s best to start with a sliding sinker rig, but more advanced boat anglers can try drifting. Click the button below for an in depth article on how to catch catfish.
(Photo from fisheries.noaa.gov )
Blue catfish aren’t too difficult to catch, but it can take some time to locate a good fishing spot and learn what the fish like to eat. Most anglers targeting blue catfish will fish from a boat and use fish finding technology. If you know someone who knows how to catch them, then that will give you a huge head start.
Blue catfish may not have the high energy of a rainbow trout, but what they lack in energy, they make up for in weight. Make sure you have a good strong rod to pull them in. I give them a score of 8 out of 10.
Have you ever had a good southern style fried catfish? if not, then you should! My mouth is watering just writing this. Catfish have a nice firm meat, and are one of the most commonly eaten freshwater fish in the US.
The world record blue catfish was caught by Nick Anderson in 2011 and weighed 143 pounds. Of course this is the record, so it is more likely to catch blue catfish that weigh around 10 to 50 pounds depending on where you are fishing.
The world record blue catfish was caught by Nick Anderson in 2011 and came in at 57 inches long. A more normal sized blue catfish will be closer to around 30 to 40 inches. Some waters produce bigger fish than others.
Older blue catfish can live up to around 20 years, however most don’t make it this long. When they are young they have many predators such as anglers, birds, and bigger fish.
Blue catfish are native to the Mississippi River Basin all the way from the coast up to South Dakota. However, blue catfish have been transported and stocked in different parts of the country. They have done exceptionally well in the rivers and lakes of Virginia and all up and down the east coast. Some blue catfish have been stocked in the west, but channel and flathead catfish are much more common.
Blue catfish live in large rivers and lakes that support an abundance of baitfish like shad, bluegill and other smaller species. They also prefer warmer waters. they thrive in the waters of Virginia and and the Carolinas. They can also be found in smaller lakes and ponds, but they probably won’t grow as big because there is more competition and less food.
Blue catfish eat mainly live baitfish. Depending on where they are this may include bluegill, shad, small carp or anything else that would make an easy meal. Shad are usually a favorite since they are plentiful and less spiny than bluegill. And when shad are schooled up near the surface, they can get stunned or cut up my boats making them easy prey.
Fishing Tackle For Blue Catfish
Circle hooks are the most popular style of hooks for catfish. Depending on the size of the catfish, and the size of your bait, you can use hooks anywhere from 3/0 to around 8/0. Click the link to see an article all about catfish hooks.
20 pound test monofilament is a great all around catfish line. Mono is cheap and has a stretch to it that helps fight the fish. You can also go with braid around 60 pound test but this is more expensive. Click the link to see an article all about catfish line.
There are quite a few rigging options for blue catfish. the most common rig is a simple sliding sinker rig. another is the Santee-Cooper rig. If you need to suspend the bait, you can use a slip bobber rig. Click the link for an article all about catfish rigs.
The most popular baits for blue catfish are baitfish like shad and bluegill. Use whatever is found in the lake and legal to use. You can fish these baits dead or alive, whole or cut. You may be able to get some blues on stink baits, but fresh is much better. Click the link for more information.
It’s not impossible to catch a catfish on a lure, but it is fairly difficult. baitfish alive or dead will always catch more blue cats. However, some people have caught catfish on lipless or deep diving crankbaits. Your best bet would be to try and find a school of shad with catfish actively feeding on them.
If you are fishing from the bank, then you’ll probably need some good casting distance. An 8-10 foot medium to heavy power rod should give you the distance you need. However, if you aren’t ready to buy a new rod, you can try using whatever you have. Click the link above to see an article that can help you choose the right rod and reel for catfish.
Landing nets are very important when catching blue catfish. These fish can grow quite large and the best way to get them out of the water for a picture is by using a net. I recommend a rubber net because your hooks won’t get tangled in it, and it is safer for the fish if you are planning to release it.
Since you will be bait fishing to catch catfish, it’s nice to have a rod holder, and a chair to kick back in. I also recommend clipping a bell to your rod tip to let you know when you get a bite
Blue catfish are predators. They eat everything they can get. In their native Mississippi waters, they are a part of the healthy ecosystem, however they have been introduced into Virginia and other areas that have a hard time supporting these hungry fish.
Blue catfish as well as other catfish have sharp spines in their pectoral fins and their dorsal fin. If you aren’t careful when handling them, they can puncture you. They aren’t venomous in the way that a snakes or spiders are, but it can cause some swelling and redness.
A fully grown blue catfish has no real predators other than us humans. However, when they are young and small they can be eaten by birds, and bigger fish.
Catfish cannot bite your finger off. Their teeth are deep in their throat, and they have a powerful jaw, but the teeth are not sharp enough to cut a finger off. In fact noodling is a sport where you reach into a catfish hole in hopes that a catfish will bite your fingers and you can grab them and pull them out.