Are Catfish Bottom Feeders? All You Need to Know

Depending on what kind of fish, we angle for, it’s important that we know the specifics of how and why that specific fish behaves.

For me, I personally love targeting catfish for a variety of reasons. The fight, the patience, and tactics involved are all part of my personal reasons for targeting channel cats, blue catfish, and flatheads. The questions get asked frequently.

Are catfish bottom feeders?

Some catfish species are bottom feeders but catfish are not only a bottom feeder species. As far as channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish, you would not consider them exclusive bottom feeders.

Blue catfish, Channel Catfish, and flathead catfish will eat near the surface midwaters and other areas.

Be sure to also read my article: Shrimp for Catfish Bait.

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What is a Bottom Feeder Fish Species?

A bottom feeder fish is a species of fish that feeds primarily near the bottom of the water in any river, lake, ocean or aquatic atmosphere. The bottom feeders feed on the bottom of the water and have the capability of burying themselves in the water bottom such as mud.

Even plants such as algae would be considered bottom-feeding species.

fisherman caught large catfish

Where Will Catfish Feed?

Catfish will feed in about any area of the water you are fishing. It depends on the season and the time of the day. At night, catfish will come much closer to the surface for feeding. During the day catfish will primarily possess the characteristics of a bottom feeder. During the day they will be nestled in cover and mud on the bottom.

Even during the day, it’s not uncommon to catch catfish in more shallow waters and near the surface. Catfish get hungry just like me and you. They tend to follow the bait fish and will do what they need to do to find an active food source.

To sum it up in an easy way for distinguishing where catfish feed, the easiest way to explain it, is to follow the other baitfish such as shad, bluegill or even small size carp.

When Are Catfish Primarily Found on The Water Bottoms?

Depending on the day and season that you are targeting channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish will determine how deep and how often they remain on the water bottoms.

In the daytime or hot days, these three catfish will be found primarily in the deepest waters in the area you are fishing. In addition, they will not only target deep waters but other forms of protection such as logs, rocks, and other underwater cover and structure.

In the winter, you can also primarily find catfish in the deeper waters. Catfish don’t necessarily hibernate in the winter, but they do remain in cover and deep waters more frequently. Food sources are more limited for catfish in the cold months and they tend to pick a spot and hold up where they feel comfortable.

The bottom deep waters are typically where these spots for catfish will be.

amateur angler holds the catfish

What Other Fish Are Considered Bottom Feeders?

Catfish aren’t the only fish that tend to remain in the muddy bottoms. The list is much longer.

Here’s a look at all the fish that you could consider bottom feeders.

  • Shellfish
  • Crabs
  • Crayfish
  • Sea Anemones
  • Starfish
  • Snails
  • Bristle Worms
  • Sea Cucumbers
  • Demersal Fish
  • Groundfish
  • Benthic Fish
  • Flatfish
  • Halibut
  • Eels
  • Cod
  • Bass
  • Grouper
  • Carp
  • Snapper
  • Some Catfish
  • Shark

I’m sure the list could be stretched much longer but this gives you a fairly good idea at what fish species are considered to feed on the bottom.

Why do we Think Eating Bottom-Feeding Fish is Bad?

We all have heard the comments and negativity that surrounds the idea of eating fishing that is considered bottom feeders. We get the idea that we are basically cooking and consuming a nice big plate of mud and rocks.

This strikes me as a little bit odd.

Let’s consider some of the facts and popular fish we already consume that are considered bottom feeders. Shrimp is a great example and I don’t know many people who dislike fish or view it as something disgusting to consume. The environment, water, and geographical locations make a much bigger difference in the quality of fish we consume.

Not where they choose to feed and what part of the food chain they sit on. Many even consider tilapia as a bottom-feeding fish and it’s an industry leader for fish sales and clutters many freezers in grocery stores we all frequently shop at.

Bottom feeders get nutrients from many sources such as plants, algae, and small fish species.

Are Bottom Fish and Bottom Feeders Safe to Eat?

Yes, bottom feeders or bottom-feeding fish species are safe to eat.

The quality and taste are again going to have a lot more to do with the environment and water quality the fish came from. Catfish has always been a popular species of fish to take home, clean, prep and cook for a backyard fish fry.

I personally even enjoy the process of prepping, cleaning and cooking carp. There is plenty you can do to make a primarily bottom-feeding fish taste appealing and be 100% safe to consume.

catfish just caught on a hook

Do Bottom-Feeding Fish Taste Good?

Definitely. If you follow the correct steps to clean, prepare and cook them in a manner that makes them taste appetizing. Carp, catfish and other bottom-feeding species have thousands of recipes and options for the cooking and preparing process.

It’s completely doable to use trial and error to find the best mix that appeals to your taste buds.

Sometimes this takes some time. When I started attempting to cook carp, it took plenty of failed attempts until I finally found the recipe that I thought was worth the effort of gutting, cleaning and preparing the fish to eat.

Methods to Bottom Fishing And Targeting Bottom Feeders

This is easy. Targeting bottom feeders are probably the easiest form of fishing but it does take some patience unless you are drift fishing for catfish. Bottom feeders can easily be found by using weights and sinkers that take you to the lowest point underwater.

You’re looking for the deepest water points and muddy bottoms with plenty of rock, cover, and structure are desired areas to target. If you can actively present quality baits on the bottom of the water in desired areas, it shouldn’t take long to start getting active strikes on your line.

Drift Fishing is a Great Method

Drift fishing is another extremely popular method for targeting bottom-feeding fish. It’s the process of slowly moving your bait across the bottom of the water. You do this in an extremely controlled manner and strategically find the best places to do so using sonar and fishing technology.

Drift fishing while attempting to fish for catfish or other bottom-feeding fish from the bank isn’t going to be an option. If however, you own a boat, it’s completely doable and a great option.

Drifting for catfish could perhaps be the best way for you to finally reel in that trophy size flathead, channel or blue catfish. It accelerates the process and covers more ground quickly. Consider it scaling your efforts and actively getting your bait to a larger area in a faster manner.

Are Bottom Feeders Worth the Effort?

If you ask me, the bottom feeders are the best fish to target. They grow to large sizes, put up the best fights and it will be tough to convince me that there is a better fish to angle for outside of catfish and carp.

What are your thoughts?

Do you actively target bottom feeders or have any great methods for doing so with success? Do you cook and prepare the fish you catch off the bottom?

Drop your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure the rest of the BonfireBob community would love to hear from you as well.

As always, thanks for reading, I appreciate you.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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