Catfish species and habitats

All catfisherman are created equal, however the opportunity for all catfisherman to catch the monster cats in there region are not equal! And by that I mean, the populations of the different species will occur more prominently in different parts of the country, so where you live and also the body of water your fishing in will dictate the size catfish you can expect to catch. Some regions in the U.S. will support all three of the most sought after species, bluecats, flatheads and channel cats, and other parts of the country will only support two of the main spiecies, the flathead and channel cats while most all regions in general will support of course the good ole channel cat, which is the most abundant catfish available to anyone in the U.S.

Of the three species, the bluecat will grow the largest and the flathead coming in a close second and then of course the channel cat in third.

Blue catfish

Are the largest of the species, some topping out in excess of 120 lbs. and found mainly in large river systems and reservoirs, though they do inhabit small feeder rivers during the spawn. They mainly thrive in larger rivers with a relatively moderate to swift current flow. Like the Ohio river, Mississippi river, and tidal waters like the James river in Virginia and the Potomac river in Maryland plus they have been introduced and are also thriving in some larger lakes throughout the country. Blue catfish will stay active and feed throughout the year.
Their preferred habitat in large rivers, is the deeper areas that have a moderate to strong current. Within these areas, blue catfish generally seek out deep holes with abundant cover that provide relief from strong currents, but they also like to roam the open water to feed, Look for outside bends in rivers, tailwaters below dams, creek mouths, humps and mussel beds are all common blue cat locations.

In large reservoirs, they inhabit many of the same features as they do in rivers: deep, secluded areas with plenty of brush and other natural or man-made cover. The absence of current in many reservoirs causes blue catfish will roam the open water to cover more area when actively searching for food, which often brings them shallow during peak feeding periods. Therefore, they often seek areas that provide both the security of deep water and the easy access to shallow feeding areas.

Blue catfish can be caught day or night, because of the shear size that they grow to plus there active feeding habits and opportunistic traits.

The smaller blues will feed on the same things the channel catfish will, but if your wanting to land a 40 lb. plus trophy, your going to have to fish with larger baits such as 10-12 inch gizzard shad and whole or large chunks of skip jack herring.

Flathead Catfish

Is the most eluding catfish that anglers will pursue, due to mainly for there habitat need for heavy cover, nocturnal feeding habits plus appetite for a live meal

Depending in the region you live the flathead catfish can be called different names! Such yellow cat, shovelhead cat and mud cat. The fish can be found throughout the central and south central U.S., and thrives in viable habitat ranging from large rivers and reservoirs to small streams. The flathead is a very predatory fish, preferring live bait, Freshly caught live shad and bluegills, injured minnows, and nighcrawlers are among favored baits, but flatheads will also hit a fresh piece of cut bait as well.

Keep in mind though the flathead are home bodies, they like to lay in cover in the day light and generally will only stray out away from home and actively feed at night, but they can also be caught in the daytime by targeting there lairs and offering a fresh bait to them in the front door of there comfort zone. Although a flathead might not actively pursue feeding in the daytime, they are just like all other species of catfish, they are opportunistic feeders, the flathead catfish will not pass up a live bait that’s placed in there face! Flathead catfish are one of the largest growing catfish in North America, with weights exceeding sixty pounds.

Channel catfish.
The most common catfish in the U.S. and is found in most regions through out the country.

channel catfish are the most opportunistic catfish when it comes to feeding, by that I mean they will hit most anything smelly or dead!
Such as man-made cheese or blood baits, chicken livers, shrimp, cutbait and even your favorite homemade concoctions!

Keep in mind though that these baits mentioned above will catch channel cats of all sizes, your trophy channel catfish of 12-15 lbs. and larger will more than likely be caught on the more natural baits such as fresh cut shad, bluegill and other similar types of bait fish, like the creek chubs.

As mentioned before, channel catfish are abundant through out the country, and there’s plenty of eaters to be caught most everywhere. but if your going to target the trophy channel catfish, you have got to fish where the big ones live! Now I’m not saying you can’t catch a 20 lb. sleeper channel out of gram pa’s farm pond, but your best chance for a trophy is to look more to the reservoirs and rivers in your region!


  1. BMBMKR says:

    The southeast is home to the white catfish, they don’t get as big as blues, or even as big as channel cats. The NC state record is only 13 lbs. They are very exciting to catch, on anything blues and channels eat, I use cut bait and live shiners. When hooked, they make hard runs and when brought to the surface they really cut a shine, all but tail walking, at night I’ve often wondered if I have a bass, largemouth or striped on the line with the acrobatics of the white catfish. They are silver like a channel but lack spots. They have girth like a blue, a 5 or 6 lb white will have a belly like a football!!

  2. paparock916 says:

    i live in the sacramento. what kind of catfish are here?

  3. admin says:

    you should have channel cats and flat heads, some blues in the southern region of your state

  4. paparock916 says:

    i have caught plenty of blues in cashe creek. it is an outlet off clearlake ca. i have just moved to sacramento and am trying to get good fish here. thank you very much.

  5. dreid says:

    looking for sponsers and tournament close to Ia.

  6. admin says:

    cabelas king kat has a classic next week in Ia.

  7. urbancathunter97 says:

    i have good fish around here, but i snapped my rod, any advice on a new one? its gotta be kinda cheap. im fourteen and have no job. haha

  8. Steve Douglas says:

    Urban cat hunter, walmart has some good catfish combos for 30 bucks or less, i think they are shakespear tigers. they they come with a sturdy open face real that wil handle big cats.

  9. Larry1981 says:

    I fish the Ohio River here in Cincinnati from the shore. I’m wondering if anyone knows of good spots on the Ohio side of the river, to setup day or night?

  10. Steve Douglas says:

    i wish i could help you larry, i do know around boat ramps are always good with access to the bank.

  11. sloan says:

    I live in the midwest near the Mississippi river. I have only caught a few blue cats in my lifetime here. I was wandering if blue cats are around this area or i’m just using the wrong techniques.

  12. Steve Douglas says:

    what techniques are you using?

  13. terry says:

    On your article Do you believe in monsters ? idont know about catfish as large as volkswagons and could swallow a man whole or catfish caught on a wrecker or jeep. But I caught a bluecat so large no scale was large enough to weigh the fish but I took a picture of the fish and the picture weighed 15 pounds. I bet you would like to see that picture . I just had to put my 2 cent worth in. LOVE your articles and videos

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