Night Fishing Tips for Catfish

News & Tips: Night Fishing Tips for Catfish
Catfish in dark waters
Want to catch more catfish? Try night fishing.

A lot of fishers will pack things up and head back to the house once the sun sets, but there are some that will just be getting on the water. Night fishing is a popular way to catch catfish, especially in the heat of the summer. Night fishing presents its own set of challenges, but it has plenty of upsides as well.

Night fishing gives you a good opportunity to get out on the popular lakes or rivers that are sometimes packed with pleasure cruisers and jet skis during the day, without all the noise and extra waves.

Keep in mind, though, that you don’t have to go fishing at night to catch catfish —they feed and are active at all hours. But the cooler shallows at night will draw some cats out of the deep water, giving you a little better luck at landing one.

How You’re Prepping

The thing about night fishing is that you can’t see as well. That means things like tying on a hook—even a big cat hook—is made a lot more difficult. Prepare your rigs before you go out. If you haven’t fished for catfish before, it’s a good time to up the pound test you usually use. You shouldn’t plan on anything less than 20-pound test fishing line, maybe even upwards of 50-pound, depending on the size of the cat you’re hoping to land.

Arrange your area, whether you’re in a boat or on the shore, so that you have an idea of where everything is, and you don’t have to grasp blindly. Obviously, bring some kind of light, whether it’s a headlamp or a lantern. The catfish won’t care.

Get comfortable, too. Whether you’re bringing a chair for the shore or a more comfortable seat for your boat, you’ll be sitting plenty, and just in case you nod off, you don't want to wake up with a crick in your neck. (A nap during the day is probably a good idea, too.)

What You’re Packing

Aside from your tackle, there are a few other unique things you’ll need for fishing at night.

  • A bell or a light, for the end of your rod. You won’t be able to see it as clearly, so you’ll need something to let you know that you’ve got a cat with your bait in its mouth.
  • Speaking of bait, chicken livers are a pretty popular go-to, but people have a lot of success with a lot of different baits. Nightcrawlers are almost always a good option. A good rule of thumb: The funkier it smells, the better the cats like it.
  • Rod holder. You’ll want to sit back and let the catfish come to you, and the best way to tell if you’ve got a bite is to have your rod up off the ground.
  • Bug spray. Once you get your lanterns set up, you’re going to see mosquitoes the size of blue jays. Apply it liberally to make sure you aren’t a midnight snack.
  • Food and drink—and a cooler. Just because you’re not used to eating late at night because you’re usually asleep doesn’t mean you won’t get hungry or thirsty.