Of all the creepy, crawly things living down in the mud, the humble catfish is perhaps the tastiest. Catfish, either native or non-native species, can be found all over America, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Regardless of where you live, at some point chasing catfish should be on your agenda. Here’s a list of 10 astonishing hot spots to try your hand at catfish the next time you crave a mud-dweller.
1. Lake Tawakoni, Texas
Tawakoni means catfish, and the name is just right for this spot. The lake sports some of the best opportunities for channel catfish anywhere in America. It’s handy to get to, thanks to drive-up access and generous catch limits. Just make sure to read the regulations carefully, there are a few caveats to keep in mind.
2. Findlay Reservoir, Ohio
This is another great spot for channel catfish, but don’t forget to grab a bucketful of perch while you’re in the water as well. The reservoir is 645 acres containing nearly 5 billion gallons of water, so you’ll need a rig that runs 20 – 28 feet deep. There is a fair bit of vegetation on the surface, so be careful when setting your line.
3. Lake Washington, Mississippi
This one is just off the Mississippi River and covers more than 5,000 acres. Hit this one for catfish, but grab countless crappies while you’re at it. The catch limit on the lake is more than generous, and the fishing is good just about year-round. Channel catfish are well established here, and the yellow, brown, and black variations of bullhead are just as plentiful.
4. Lake Marion, South Carolina
This lake is the biggest in South Carolina. In addition to being chock-full of catfish, this pond also has excellent largemouth bass action. The state record largemouth came out of Marion some years back, the next state record might be yours, so don’t let the catfish distract you too much. Try a line for each and see what happens. It could be a flathead, blue, or channel catfish at the end of your line.
5. Rend Lake, Illinois
Rend Lake is just outside of Benton and has an outstanding population of channel catfish that go for live bait like they’re starving. Try leeches to pull flathead catfish out of this one as well. It doesn’t have the warm southern feel of some other options, but the fish taste the same. How many places up north have year-round catfishing, anyhow?
6. Fellows Lake, Missouri
This is one of the few places where you can find big channel cats and big muskies in the same lake. For best results, you’ll want a couple of lines in the water, one with a bobber for the cats, and one with a big, old muskie lure. Just remember which one has the sharp teeth when you’re getting them off the line.
7. Monroe Lake, Indiana
This lake offers more than 10,000 acres to fish and holds the most impressive catfish population in Indiana. The habitat in Monroe Lake is so populated with fish that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources doesn’t even stock it and has no plans to start any time soon. At Monroe Lake, with some worms and bobbers, you simply can’t miss.
8. Tanners Lake, Minnesota
So, here’s your opportunity to catch a catfish through a hole in the ice. Yeah, well, Tanners Lake might be an anomaly, but the cats bite great in the summer, too. Bring your boat to get away from the other guys on shore and grab some bluegills and walleye while you’re out there. Watch the weather if you’ve got a small boat.
9. Lake Talquin, Florida
Lake Talquin can offer up enough catfish for a whole football team’s fish fry, but it’s also got striped bass for variety. It’s located at the junction of two of Florida’s biggest rivers, so you never know what you might pull out of this pond. Don’t forget the live bait, it’s the way to go for lunkers.
10. Lake Hefner, Oklahoma
Oklahoma might not be the first place you think of for catfish, but they’ve got some big ones lurking in the depths of Lake Hefner. The cats here are so oversized that plenty of anglers break gear and have to run home for the heavier stuff. Plan accordingly and don’t let one of the monsters pull you in. If one does, noodle it.
A Few Final Tips
Regardless of where you go for catfish, don’t forget to bring a good set of waders to maximize efficiency. Above all, don’t forget to bring a cooler big enough to carry your catch. Catfish become a high-volume item quickly, so plan ahead. If you’re traveling, try to find a good spot for a fish fry to share the wealth and make transport easier.