Seasonal Patterns for catfish

Where to find catfish in all seasons

Catfish are like any other fish in the fact that they have very specific movement or migration patterns. These patterns are heavily influenced by the change of seasons.

The key to successful catfish fishing all year long is being able to identify their habits during the particular season you are fishing in.

Like all living things, catfish have biological clocks programmed into them and length of daylight hours will trigger certain movements also.

Spring weather changes bring on the first movement of the season. Catfish will begin to stir from there wintering patterns as the days get longer and the water begins to warm with two things on their minds; food and the spawn.

Catfish will leave the wintering holes and begin to move towards the spawning grounds. In rivers they will move up river or into the tributaries, feeding heavily in preparation of the spawn.

If the option to move up stream isn’t available, catfish will seek out shallow or wood laden or rocky banks instead.

During the pre-spawn, catfish will often hold up in deep holes close to the spawning beds. Once the spawn is on, the males will move into the beds and stake their claim to certain spawning beds prepping them for the female to lay her eggs.


Once the female is finished here business she will leave the nest and the males will protect the nest until the eggs have hatched.

After the business of reproduction is over, catfish will slowly make their way back to deeper waters.

Typically the catfish will be a little sluggish and not as active immediately after the spawn, they will need a few days to recuperate from the rigors of the spawn before they will again begin to feed heavily.

Once they have recuperated from the spawn, catfish will begin to feed more aggressively. In early summer, the catfish are fairly aggressive about food. They will begin to occupy deep water flats, humps and other underwater structures.

Any place that attracts the forage fish will typically have catfish nearby. In the day time look to the deeper water lairs and as the sun sets look a bit shallower as they will follow the baitfish to the shallows.

Summer temperatures and sunshine will slow the catfish bite down in the shallows, but probing the deep water lairs with some suspended baits will still get successful results.

The catfish will still eat, but the offerings needs to be easy for them to get as they have fed up after the spawn, however catfish are opportunistic feeders and will not pass up an easy meal.

Slow presentations are the best bet this time of year.

Fall is another season of change that triggers their biological clock. The bait fish will make a move to deeper water at this time to over winter and as the days get shorter and the water begins to cool off, the catfish start to feed actively anticipating the long winter ahead.

There are few reasons for this, one of which is the females will need to stock up on food for energy in order to produce their eggs over the winter for next year’s spawn.

As winter temperatures kick in, the catfish movements and activity slows down. The catfish typically find deep areas to reside in throughout the winter months, making them easier to target because they will be somewhat concentrated in the deep water holes where they can find some sort of thermal relief from the cold.

They prefer to suspend below schools of shad or other forage fish if possible. Just because its winter doesn’t mean the catfish won’t eat.

Catfish will eat in the winter; they just don’t invest as much energy into hunting for a meal. Some of the best trophy catfishing occurs during the winter months, because they are the most predictable to pattern at this time of year.


Seasonal changes play a big role in the way you should approach catfish at any given time.

Their seasonal movement patterns are affected strongly from Mother Nature’s moods.

Understanding how and why the catfish moves at certain times of the year will increase your chances of being successful.