Do Catfish Like Cold Water?

This past year, as fall began wrapping up and winter began kicking into full force, I was in the typical frustrated mood. It was time to put the fishing gear away because I wasn’t planning any winter fishing this year for the first time in quite some time.

I’ve done winter fishing for catfish and I knew catfish still would bite in cold weather.

However, I began to wonder if catfish like cold water. I did some digging and here is what I learned.

Do catfish like cold water?

Yes, catfish like cold water. Feeding behaviors don’t change with cold water but the depth where the catfish tend to be located may increase. Fishing cold water, ice fishing or fishing in the winter is still effective with catfish fishing.

A few more pointers may increase your chances of catching catfish this winter even more. Let’s detail and layout other important tips and tricks for effectively landing catfish through the coldest months of the year.

Here are 4 additional tips I have for you to increase your game this year with catfishing the cold-water temperatures.

My 4 Tips to Fishing in Cold Water

Tip #1: Don’t Be Afraid to Ice Fish for Catfish

Don’t be afraid to bust out the auger and do some ice fishing. Catfish can still be caught easily with cold water temperatures. Shift the focus from large rivers and try smaller lakes and ponds.

Put together some nice cut bait and use your sonar to locate a good deep hole in the pond and get after it. You will be surprised at how decent the catfish activity can still be during the colder months of the year.

Tip #2: Don’t Ignore Fish Finder/Sonar and Depth Finding Technology in The Winter

Fish finders can be great for several applications but during the cold weather and cooler water temperatures they can be especially great for a few key reasons. First, they can locate the good cover spots beneath the water surface such as rock ledges or fallen logs.

In addition, they will accurately be able to help you find the deeper parts of the water and most fish finders can also display water temperature depending on the model.

All these key pieces of data can be extremely beneficial to your catfishing game during the winter months.

Tip #3: Have More Patience in The Winter When Catfishing

When the water temperatures get cold, the catfish activity does slow down some. Catfish become more lethargic and don’t strike with the same fast actions. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t ready to feast down on some well-presented bait. It just means to give it a little more time than usual. It may take just a tad more to spark the interest of the catfish.

Keep in mind that catfish have very keen senses so if you give it time, eventually, good things will happen. Get some nice smelly bait under the water and give it some time to hit those nostrils and prepare for some fun.

Tip #4: Abandon Rivers More Frequently in The Winter When Catfishing

When winter comes along, catfishing seems to be much easier in lakes and ponds that it does in rivers. Blue catfish would be ideal to stick to river fishing but if you are targeting channel catfish, changing your game plan to target ponds and lakes could prove highly beneficial until spring rolls back around.

Now that we have covered those key points, let’s look at some of the other frequently asked questions when it comes to catfish, water temperatures and the best methods to execute when fishing cold waters.

FAQ: Winter Catfishing and Cold-Water Temps

Do catfish like warm or cold water?

Catfish don’t necessarily have a preference for water temperature, but they do behave differently and thrive in different water temperatures. Catfish, especially channel and flathead catfish tend to grow more rapidly in warm water. Blue catfish tend to grow steadier in average temperatures.

With feeding habits, you can expect catfish biting to be at peak levels in the warmest months of the year. However, as stated before, catfish are still plenty active during the colder months and lower water temperatures as well.

It appears catfish just like to consume food when they are ready to and water temperature does not make a huge difference.

Do catfish go deeper in cold water?

Catfish do position themselves in deeper water as the water temperatures begin to drop. Deep holes, covered structure, and fallen logs are common areas to find catfish when the water temperatures are at yearly lows.

What water temperature do catfish prefer?

I’ve always wondered this. Here’s what I’ve learned after some research. Catfish like the water temperature to be different for various activities.

Here are some quick examples.

  • Spawning– 70-84 Degrees F
  • Growth- 80 Degrees F
  • Overall Activities- 75 F and Above

As you can see, between the 70-85-degree mark is about ideal for anything related to catfishing. However, at certain water temperatures, you get additional benefits taking place with catfish.

Regarding the best water temperature to catch catfish, I’d say hands down this above 75-degrees F and mid-late summertime. Again, catfish will still hit well-presented bait 12 months out of the year regardless of these varying water temperatures.

Do catfish bite in hot weather the same as cold weather

Catfish do bite in cold weather and cold-water temperatures, but they don’t necessarily bite in the exact same fashion.

They will be moving more slowly during this time of the year. Baits may take longer to grab the attention of the catfish and you may have to position yourself near deep holes much more effective to have a good day of fishing.

Effectively locating catfish during the colder months of the year is much more crucial than during spring, summer, and fall. Have some patience with it and good things will come.

Will drift fishing for catfish help with lower water temperatures?

It surely can. Drift fishing during any time of the year when catfish activity is slowed will help. This is due to simply covering more ground throughout the day and having a better chance at hitting the holes and underwater structure. The key is keeping the drift controlled and keeping things slow. Keep in mind, catfish aren’t quite as jumpy and fast swimming during the winter.

Find a good drifting spot by locating other shad or bait fish, use some form of sonar/depth finder to locate deeper waters and begin your drift. If you haven’t drift fished for catfish in the past, here’s a guide I created to help.

How deep do catfish go in the winter?

During the winter, catfish will go to the deepest points of the water. Catfish will find holes, logs, rocks, and other underwater structure and be at maximum depth during the winter. This holds true in rivers, ponds, and lakes.

Do channel catfish bite in cold water?

Channel catfish do bite in cold water. In fact, ice fishing for channel catfish can be extremely effective with proper planning and preparation. Stick to ponds and lakes for the best chances of catching channel catfish in cold waters.

Do catfish bite in 50-degree weather?

Catfish will bite in 50-degree weather. When temperatures are lower, location is critical. Use sonar, find food sources and structure and you can still effectively get catfish to bite in 50-degree weather.

Catfish will bite all year long with proper planning and bait placement/presentation.

What water temperature do catfish become active?

Catfish never become inactive when it comes to water temperature. They just slow down with feeding habits and patterns as water temperature and overall climates shift into colder months.

Catfish will continue to stay active all year but effectively catching them may take more time or need proper preparation such as using fishing electronics to locate the correct fishing areas beneath the water.

Are You Going to Keep Fishing the Cold Waters for Catfish This Year?

Although catfish do exhibit some different behaviors in the wintertime does not mean that cold water temperatures will kill your fishing game this year. Catfish are still plenty active during these cold months and even with cold water temperatures, you can catch plenty of catfish if you do it right.

What success have you had in the past with catfishing the colder water temperatures? Any tips for someone just beginning with ice fishing? More specifically, ice fishing for catfish? If so, be sure to drop a comment below. As always, thanks for reading. I appreciate you. See you next time.

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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