Do Catfish Like Deep Water?

Anybody reading this I’m assuming loves catfishing. If you don’t, I’m assuming you are considering getting into catfishing in near future. It’s an incredible game fish to target and provides quite the thrill each time you set the hook.

I’ve been fishing for catfish for quite some time. There is a ton of information available about what depths catfish like to “hang out” at.

So, do catfish like deep water?

Yes, catfish like to be in some of the deepest spots of the water you are fishing. This is especially true during the daytime. If catfish are not in the deepest waters during the daytime, they are near other cover and structure and keeping away from angling pressure and weather elements such as sun and heat during the day.

I’ve been testing these theories in my own catfishing outings and wanted to provide some answers and resources to you about my findings, experience, and research about catfish depths and where they seem to typically be on different bodies of water.

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This Doesn’t Mean Catfish Can’t be Caught During The Daytime

Many new catfish anglers are under the impression that early mornings and night catfishing is the best time to catch catfish which is 100% not true. This is the conception because many believe and yes, it’s true that catfish are in deep waters and not very active during the daytime.

I can tell you first hand that time of day makes no difference with catfishing. Depth and location are much more key to effective catfishing compared to what time it is. At night, the catfish will come shallower and are hunting instead of hiding.

Here’s the kicker. Catfish during the day in the deep water are just as hungry and active. You just have to get your bait in front of them, learn to find them and learn to fish around structure. Once you have these skills in place, you can fish for catfish 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s that simple.

Do Catfish Feed on The Bottom?

We just touched on this but let’s place some more emphasis on this.

Catfish do feed on the bottom. They feed often on the bottom. If you can effectively place bait where catfish are in deep holes on the water bottom, they will feed just as aggressively as they would fishing at night or in the early mornings.

In fact, many anglers target catfish during the day only. They use techniques such as drift fishing for catfish which is essentially bouncing your bait at controlled speeds along the water bottoms waiting for your bait to cross paths with a hungry catfish. It’s effective, even at the deepest water points in the river or lake you are fishing.

Do Catfish Come to The Surface?

What about the opposite? Do catfish come to the surface?

Yes, catfish can come to the surface as well although it’s not as typical. Catfish will be closer to the surface of the water for a few reasons.

4 reasons for catfish to come to the surface:

  • It’s after the sun is down and either late night or early morning and they are in the shallow water actively feeding or
  • Catfish may be near the surface just like other fish such as carp due to spawning.
  • The water doesn’t have enough oxygen and they will surface to gulp down some air.
  • When active food sources are dropping food onto the surface as the water such as insects or trees.

How Deep do Catfish Go?

Catfish will go to about every extreme to find the deep holes and structure in the body of water they live in.

Catfish will go to the deepest points and areas of the lake and river.  They will find muddy holes at the bottom of the water and lay around until night time. This could reach depths of 35-70 feet or deeper.

The easier way to phrase and answers this question would be the following, “how deep is the water you are fishing and what’s the deepest point?” Whatever you answer to that question is your answer. If your lake or river reaches 100 feet deep, chances are you can find blue, channel and flathead catfish 100 feet deep as well.

Where do Catfish Hide in Ponds?

Catfish like to hide in ponds in the deep water and water with high amounts of cover and structure. Furthermore, they like to be where there’s algae or other sorts of vegetation. In a pond, the cover and structure are harder to come by.

Look in areas such as near or under a dock, overhanging trees or possibly even ask the landowner or individual who created the pond if he knows of any underwater structure that existed when the pond was created and filled.

Where do Catfish Hide in Lakes?

Catfish will be hiding in lakes in deep waters during the day with holes and structure. Any areas that would be considered deep or provide protection to the catfish is a likely spot where you can effectively locate them.

Depending on the time of day, you can also attempt to locate schools of bait fish. Usually, if you can locate schools of baitfish you can find catfish lurking nearby. Especially at night when catfish are out on the hunt for active food sources.

Fish Finding Technology – How it Can Help You Locate Catfish

How could fish finding technology help you locate catfish more effectively? Well in several ways. Fishfinding technology is going to do most of the legwork and grunt work for you. The newer fish finding technology has built-in sonar.

The sonar is going to allow you to see and read underwater structure and depths with ease. In addition, fish finding/ sonar technology is going to help you locate the schools of baitfish that we just mentioned. If you can quickly locate the deepest waters, find baitfish and know where the structure is, your chances of catching catfish just increased dramatically.

Do Catfish Like Deep or Shallow Water?

Catfish will still be in the deep waters at night. Some catfish especially blues and flatheads may remain in deeper waters all 24 hours a day or more than channel catfish do. However, at night, channel catfish do go near shallow water much more frequently.

Nighttime is active hunting and feeding time for channel catfish and some blues and flatheads. You still want to be looking for structure, schools of baitfish and other active food sources even at night to effectively fish for catfish.

Does it mean that catfish do like shallow water? Some catfish like to feed in shallow water at night and day but all catfish won’t necessarily be in the shallow water at night.

What About Winter Time? How Deep Will Catfish Be?

For the most part, winter is going to be the exact same as other times of the year with a few exceptions. If you are fishing a pond that’s covered with ice, you may notice catfish in waters not as deep or possibly surfacing. This could be to get more oxygen and gulp down some air or they could still be looking for active food sources.

Outside of these scenarios, it’s still going to be likely that you find the catfish near the structure and deeper points of the pond, river or lake. Use a castable fish finder such as the deeper sonar pro if you aren’t ice fishing to find these spots from shore or boat and increase your chances of catching more catfish this winter.

So, are you Going to Target the Deep Water Your Next Time Fishing for Catfish?

No matter what body of water you are targeting or fishing, you should always be checking the deepest points of it to effectively locate and catch catfish. If it gets 50 feet deep, you need to try and place your bait 50 feet deep.

This doesn’t mean however that you can’t catch catfish at other depths in the water you’re fishing. Many anglers have reported catching some of there record trophy blues and flatheads at depths only about 5-7 feet deep and often anglers will see catfish near the surface for various reasons.

Use technology such as sonar or other fish finders to read the depths quickly and locate structure to have the best chance of running into a nice channel catfish, blue or flathead.

As always, thanks for stopping by. If you haven’t done already, be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for new articles like what is the best catfish bait for ponds and best bowfishing bow.

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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