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In the USA, there are more than 7 million catfish anglers. Catfishing has suddenly become more popular. Catfish are known as one of the water’s top predator fish. Choosing the right time for catfishing is important because these ray-finned fish don’t stay active all day.

When is the best time to go catfishing? Anglers should do catfishing in the early morning or at night during the summer, spring, and fall. But they should catch catfish in the late morning during winter when the water temperature is relatively higher.

Does Time Matter Catfishing?

Catfish don’t maintain the same level of activity always. They are generally more active during the early morning and at dawn.

In the late morning, the sun is excessively hot. It causes increased brightness.

The prey of catfish can easily see the movements of catfish. It allows them quickly go into hiding.

But in low light conditions, catfish will go as close as possible before attacking their prey. This allows them an easier catch.

It is why catfish anglers should choose the best time for catching catfish when these ray-finned fish are most active.

You are more likely to catch more catfish during these periods.

When Is The Best Time To Go Catfishing

When Is The Best Time To Go Catfishing?

There are nearly 2,900 catfish species world. They don’t act the same. Their pattern and behavior change when the temperature changes.

The water temperature varies based on different seasons. When the water temperature changes, the ability/desire of the catfish to obtain food may increase or decrease.

It also affects their metabolic rate and behavior. They will adjust their metabolisms to the temperature of the water around them.

The short answer for the best time to go catfishing depends on the catfish species, season, and water temperature.

However, if you know and use the right techniques properly, catfishing is perfect all year round.

Which Season Is The Best For Catfishing?

You can do catfishing all year round. However, some specific catfish species are good at some particular times than others.


One of the best times for catfishing is winter. Blue catfish are highly active during the winter. You can catch larger blue catfish during January and February.

But you must be wondering why they are more available during the winter, right?

Their metabolism and size give them predatory leverage over most baitfish in the winter.

Another popular fish species are channel catfish for winter. They can adjust their body and transform them into wintertime patterns.

You can use the “deadsticking technique” to quickly improve your predictability to catfish this type of catfish.

Occasionally, you may also find some flathead catfish lurking in standing timber.

They are usually found in the mid-depths, ranging from 25 – 30 feet.


Spring comes after winter. So the water gets warmer. A lot of bait fish and vegetation are available in the winter. This attracts much larger catfish.

However, using the proper catfish bait and tackle is the key to catching catfish during the spring.

You want to choose attractive and functional lures or baits that can cover plenty of water and have a fairly steady presentation.

Most catfish anglers prefer early spring for catfishing because of the steady warming of the water. It changes the behavior of catfish.

Channel catfish are highly active during the spring. They generally spread out on the hole’s shallower mud flats’ bottom and top area.

Anglers can also find some trophy-class catfish in spring, especially during late March, April, and early May.

However, they are widely available from November through Mid March.


During the summer, ample food and cover are available for catfish.

The best part is that you can attract various catfish due to the consistency in the heat. Fish is less likely to change their behavior and pattern.

Catching larger channel catfish within a short period is easygoing during the summer.

Minnows, sunfish, shad, chubs, worms, frogs, crawfish, etc., are the top bait for catfish in summer.

The best time for catfishing is early to mid-summer when water temperatures reach 75°F.

However, blues or flathead catfish are more difficult to catch than channel catfish during the summer because they show the most diel movement during summer


According to many expert catfishermen, fall is one of the best times to catch catfish.

After all, fishermen can utilize a wide range of fishing techniques to catch various catfish species.

Catfish anglers use bait, such as worms or liver, that can attract catfish by spreading pungent smells in the water.

You can find channel catfish in some areas where they are often congregated.

If you are after flathead catfish, make sure to use baits like green sunfish, shiners, goldfish, bluegill, etc.

 Drift fishing is a perfect technique to catch channel and blue catfish in the early fall.

What Is The Best Time Of Day To Catch Catfish?

Catfish generally stay in shallower water at night because they look for food in the shallower areas.

After 2 to 3 hours of sunrise, they start going deeper because the upper surface water becomes hot.

They are likely to get physiologically stressed from extremely heated water. Hence, catfish will swim around deeper areas where the water is comparatively cool.

Once the sun sets, they will be more active. An angler has a more probability of becoming successful in catching catfish when the sun goes down.

However, no hard and fast rules regarding the exact catfishing time exist.

 As long as catfish consistently bite your baits or lures, you have a high probability of catching fish.

Is Morning Or Evening Time Better For Catfishing?

Early morning is one of the best times for catfishing because they are more active during this period.

But when you prefer to fish in the early morning, start early and finish the catfishing within 2 hours of sunrise.

Fish think there are minimal elements above water that will disturb them. So, they visit the top surface of the water to eat their favorite food.

Fish find it easy to maneuver and jump around as they feed. Anglers will benefit more as it gives them some quiet time and freedom to secure any spots.

If you want to catch catfish in the evening, start your catfishing session an hour before sunset.

The water temperature begins to cool off. Catfish will be more active and come to the surface to hunt food.

They are less jumpy or distracted by excessive sounds and movements of others.

Where Do Catfish Stay During The Daytime?

It is crucial to consider the ideal time for catfishing. Catfish will stay in deeper water when the winds are calm, and the sun is bright.

They prefer to keep their location hidden to avoid crowds during the daytime. Catfish often do unihemispheric sleep when they are not active. In such conditions, catfishing might be tricky.

They often live in holes or deep structures during the day to hide from predators and stay cool. These ray-finned fish may hide around submerged rocks and logs.

If you are catching them from small lakes or ponds, ensure your fishing rod reaches the deepest part of ponds, especially during the day.

Otherwise, you will have to wait for low light conditions until they appear at the top of the fishing water.

Which Time Is Bad For Catfishing?

How long can you wait to catch a single catfish? It is best to avoid catching fish during the slow fishing period.

Avoid catching catfish during the mid of the day, especially in spring, summer, and fall.

When the water becomes too warm, its oxygen decreases. Hence, catfish go deeper for a higher level of oxygen. Besides, warm water can reveal catfish to be docile.

These ray-finned fish are less likely to come on the top water surface. They will stay inactive in the deepest water area to hide and protect their body from excessive heat.

On the other hand, the scenario is different during the winter. Avoid catching any catfish at night during the night time.

The temperature drops significantly at night. They will go deeper to find a comfortable and warmer water level.

What Is The Best Time To Catch Channel Catfish?

Summer is usually the best time for catching channel catfish. However, you can catch these ray-finned fish throughout the year.

They usually stay in shallow water during the summer and deep, slow-moving water during the winter.

When the water temperature is 65-70 degrees or above, channel catfish is easy to catch.

However, you can also catch these fish species during the fall and spring in a limited amount, especially in streams, rivers, lakes, etc.

Channel catfish usually prefer fishing spots where the current is less intense.

What Is The Best Time To Catch Blue Catfish?

Anglers can catch blue catfish throughout the year.

 However, March through May is the best time for catching more blue catfish.

You should choose the nighttime for catching this fish species as they are more active at night.

But when it comes to catching trophy-class blue catfish, you should do it between December to March.

They are highly active during this period. You are more likely to catch a huge amount of catfish during this period.

Look for big rivers flowing through the region to increase your chances of catching fish.

What Is The Best Time To Catch Flathead Catfish?

The target flathead catfish are generally available from the spring to the fall.

However, September and October are the two best months for catching flathead catfish.

But you can also get a good number of flathead catfish in summer unless the temperature is not too extreme.

In contrast, winter is not appropriate for catching flathead catfish.

This fish species will stay in boulders or logs areas where they get refuge from the current.

Their body is often covered with a fine dusting of silt to protect them and stay hidden from anglers.

Catfish speciesFirst Choice For FishingSecond Choice For Fishing
Channel CatfishSummerFall and Spring
Blue CatfishMarch through MayDecember to March
Flathead CatfishSpring To FallSeptember and October

Summing UP

Millions of catfish are caught by anglers over the world every year. If you are starting your fishing journey recently, ensure you know the right time to catch fish.

We have already mentioned the best time to go for catfishing. Ensure you have a decent idea about the water level, temperature, and what catfish are available. 

Don’t forget to release any catfish you don’t want to eat instantly. Hopefully, you have a clear overview of which catfish you can catch at some particular times.

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