Equipment you will need:
- Boat Anchors
- Separate 12v Battery To run lights
- Night Lights
- Submerged Lighting
- Live Bait Keeper
- Chum bag
- Heavy Bait Casting Or Spinning Rig
- Insect Repellent
Night fishing for catfish can be a very rewarding fishing trip. Trust me If you do it correctly you will catch fish, not only will you catch fish but some will be lunkers! Catfish feed at night and are very active, and when they get into a feeding frenzy fishing action can be incredible! Catfish are attracted to submerged lighting And have a very keen sense of smell. So If you can locate their nightly haunts you can entice them on to your hook with some simple methods I will explain here. But first you must be setup and prepared for night fishing it is totally different at night then in the day. Things you take for granted during the day, don’t apply at night.
Boat Setup for night fishing
Before you even think about going night fishing for catfish you need to have the following items:, lights for inside the boat,either battery or Coleman fuel type lanterns with two mantles. Set up your lights so they distribute light evenly inside the boat. I personally fish from a 20 foot pontoon and I have 3 halogen battery powered lights hung 2in the front, left and right and one hanging from my canopy in the rear. (I have used my Colemans but they attract a huge amount of insects)
You also will need a secondary light on your person. This light is used for re-rigging your fishing poles. Trust me, no matter how prepared you are before your trip you will loose some tackle, from line crossovers, or snags, or fish snapping your line. (you can limit this by using heavy tackle and making sure your line is fresh) I personally use a led light that clips to the visor on my ball cap.
You also will need a light to illuminate the water surface I recommend 12v halogen light that can be directed outside the boat. Mount it on the side of your boat, in the center. I personally use and adjustable halogen that I can clip to the railing on my pontoon. Direct the light at a 60 degree angle from boat to water. This will illuminate the surface.
You will need a submerged light source. You are probably asking your self right now why do I need submerged lighting? The submerged lights will generate plankton swirls that will attract bait fish. Once the bait fish start schooling The big cats will come. attract schools Submerged lighting rigs come in a variety of sizes and shapes, the one I use is 36″ long about 4″ in diameter. Center the submerged light in the illumination pattern of the surface water lighting you just set up. Anchor your submerged lighting about 12 ” off the bottom, (without an anchor they will float on top of the water).. make sure the light completely submerged under the water. I recommend you use a 5lb weight as an anchor. If possible, anchor the submerged light about 2 to 3 ft from the boat.
You will need a secondary power source for the submerged light, the water illumination light and to operate your aerator pump for your live bait or live well.”do not use your boats power source” This will drain your battery.”you don’t want to get stuck on the lake at night right? If you take a well charged 12v marine battery as your second source it will last through the night.
You will need all Your poles pre-rigged If you have the rigs I would set up 3 poles, per person in advance of getting on the water. The reason I suggest this is because it’s real pain the “blank” To re-rig at night. You will end up doing it anyway, but if you have spare poles already set up, use them first before you have waist valuable time with poles out of the water.
Locating the cat’s nightly haunts
It has been my experience the bigger cat’s roam the shore lines or back waters in search of food at night. Every body of water will be different. I highly recommend you do some research on the body of water you intend to night fish for catfish on. At Minimum Get a topographical map of the area before you attempt your trip. These can be attained at any of the local bait and tackle shops in the area. (I recommend you visit one of these shops to get the local scoop anyway, if you dig deep enough these guys can pin point on the map Where to start fishing. This will save you lots of time.)
Enticing the Cats to your boat.
Once you have your water surface lights and your submerged lights set up and ready to go you don’t even need to do the next step, you are ready to start fishing. The submerged lighting will get the schools of bait fish coming, but I take it step one step further because if you play on the catfish’s extra sensitive sense of smell you can drive the Big cats into a feeding frenzy! OK You say how?
Well the answer is by introducing “chumming”. Chumming releases a slick of dead fish smells and fish guts that the small bait fish and catfish feed on. There are many commercial chumming systems you can purchase and they work very well, but I use a simple very inexpensive method that anyone can set up. First you will need a nylon netted bag that you can close tight. (a good example would the netted bags that you put golf balls in that have a string closure adjustment) This is what I use, works perfect, very inexpensive. Next, get some good size freezer bags, 3 should do for one nights trip.
Next, Purchase about 2 dozen good size chubs and cut them in 1″ to 2″ slices, make sure you do this in a pan that will not drain all the juices. Fill the freezer bags pieces and juice all together, and let them sit outside in the sun all day long. Yes it will stink to high heaven by the end of the day, but that is what you want! Now stick the freezer bag in side the meshed bag that can close. Close the bag tight and tie a line at the bottom of the bag about 2 feet long. Attach about a 2lb anchor to get the bag to the bottom. Now tie a line at the top of the bag with enough lead line to get the bag on the bottom. Now before you lower the chum bag to the bottom take an ice pick, or something sharp that will puncture the bag, but not tear the plastic. Punch the freezer bag numerous times, then lower to the bottom an tie it off on the side of the boat.
Now its time to fish! But before we go there lets re-visit Your catfish rigs. There are many catfish rigs you can use, and they all work in situations they are designed for. When you are fishing at night and you have submerged a lighting setup,you want get your line about 2 ft away from the light source, approximated on the outer edges of the source’s beam.
You will be fishing only a short distance from the boat, so your rigs need to be set up to fish in close proximity to the boat. You could fish tight line with a basic catfish hook and a small sinker. Or use a slip bobber system. I prefer to use the slip bobber system.
I use the single hook rig. Both rigs shown in the illustration work fine but I just have preference for the single hook rig. I do use the double hook rig when fishing for other types of fish. I use all heavy duty, open face, and spin cast rod and reels with 30lb test. When you do get a lunker on your line you want the tackle set up to handle the fight. You miss some smaller cats, but it’s well worth it when you catch your first 10lb plus catfish.
Baits To Use
both Channel and Blue catfish will eat just about any small fish like Suckers, small shad, or bluegills both live or dead. I use both live bait and dead “cut bait” I will normally set one pole up with a small live gill no more that 3inches in length. My other poles will be baited with cut bait, normally LARGE suckers 6″ or longer cut in 1″ to 2″ chunks.
Now Bait your rigs,Get Your Boat Setup and get ready for an exciting Night fishing for Catfish Trip! Once you catch a lunker 10 pounder + You will be Hooked for life! So have fun and good luck!