How to Catch Catfish at Night in Lakes

First and foremost, don’t be the angler that packs up the gear at sunset and heads home for the day. Especially for all the catfish anglers reading.

You’re missing out on plenty of great catfish when you do.

Learning how to catch catfish at night in lakes is easy. It shouldn’t take you long to get the skills built up and begin catching more catfish.

Can you catch a catfish at night?

The answer to this is absolutely. When you do, you are making some trade-offs however that many anglers may not be aware of or just haven’t entirely run through the thought process on yet. Many anglers believe that catfishing at night may be the only way to do it.

While this is a great time to fish for catfish, I’d at least like to point out that it’s not the only time to catch catfish. Catfish will bite during all hours and all seasons of the year. At night and for the sake of this post, the advantage to lake fishing for catfish at night is a few things.

First, if you’re not using a boat and fishing from the bank, night fishing using the correct gear may just be more relaxing. Especially if you live in a state that can get hot in the summer. The sun is down, and the activity is still present, so it seems like a win.

In theory, it is. You have the potential to catch some big catfish at night, so it’s always going to be worth the effort and the experience.

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What’s the Best Bait for Catfish at Night?

Catfish don’t just change regular feeding patterns and desired baits because the sun went down, and the temperature has dropped. It’s never necessary too hot or too cold for catfish to get a bit hungry.

The same baits that have brought you and thousands of other catfish anglers luck catching catfish over the last few decades are still going to work and continue to work.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a pond, lake or river fishing for catfish, you can count on these patterns and habits remaining the same.

For many of you that read my other blogs, you know I’m a huge fan of the dip worms and stinkbait. I’m also not a stranger to chicken livers and just good old fashioned plain nightcrawlers.

These same baits will work great when lake fishing at night for catfish. Especially when bank fishing. Something about these baits always brings me great luck bank fishing on lakes on catfish.

It’s going to have a lot more to do with your bait placement and skills in locating a decent spot to fish more than anything.

Even after knowing that catfish will bite all day long, the question frequently presents itself…

What is the Best Time to Fish for Catfish?

Catfish will bite any time of the day. In a nutshell, they eat when they are hungry. As far as what is the best time to fish for catfish? It really depends on several different things.

  • Are you fishing from a boat or from the bank?
  • What Geographical location or state do you live? What’s the climate?
  • What Season is it?

The reason the questions above matter so much is due to the impact they can have. We can assume since you googled this term and ended up here that you are fishing from the bank for catfish.

More specifically, your fishing in lakes. The only unknown is where you currently live, but for the sake of this post, we won’t worry about it too much.

Assuming this is correct and your fishing from the bank on lakes for catfish, night fishing may be an ideal time.

The heat will be beating down on you with lay less intensity, you won’t need the ability to cast into incredibly deep waters due to the catfish moving into more shallow waters for feeding. They will typically remain in these shallow waters until the first sign of sun in the morning.

Depending on how late you are willing to stay awake fishing for catfish, bank fishing and night fishing can be a great approach.

I know that doesn’t accurately answer the question of what is the best time to fish for catfish? The reason being is too many factors can impact when the best time may be.

If again, your bank fishing from a lake, I would argue to say with confidence that early morning and night fishing will always be the best and yield the best results.

The Best Way to Fish For Catfish at Night in Lakes

Learning how to catch catfish in lakes isn’t going to take you long. We briefly already touched on this but the best methods for making it happen is learning where to look and finding areas you can get to by foot if your bank fishing where you can effectively target them.

We discussed in other blogs that, looking for covered areas is still essential.

  • Downed Trees
  • Known Underwater Rocks and Logs
  • Other Brush and Debris

These will still yield excellent results. Also, keep a shorter cast, try the shallow 3-5 feet water and see how much activity you get. You can always adjust if need be, but the catfish aren’t necessarily going to be way off in wonderland at nighttime.

What is the best way to fish for catfish at night in lakes?

The best way to fish for catfish at night in lakes is to use a good rod holder and dual poles. If you are trying different depths and putting your bait in position near different structures, you’re bound to run into some catfish at some point.

“You hang around the barbershop long enough. Eventually, you’re going to get a haircut.” That’s the easy way to put it.

Night Time Catfishing 101

Here are some important reminders and tips to up your game to the next level with night catfishing. Especially when doing so on lakes.

Up next we will have our top tips for catfishing. These should help dramatically improve your chances of landing more catfish your next time hitting the waters.

Top Tips For Night Catfishing

Tip #1: Enter the Ring Ready to Fight

Obviously, this is a metaphor but do a little legwork and preparing before hitting the water.

Get your rigs together, double check your fishing line and if you’re smart, already know the exact spot you plan to fish and how you’re going to get to it. Will you need long casting abilities to target a place or have you scouted a way to get closer by foot? All these preparation items will help immensely.

Tip #2: The boaters Need Preparation as Well

If you don’t fall into the previously mentioned bank fisherman, you need to prepare your boat for battle before you hit the waters.

Having everything easy to locate on the boat especially at night will make a world of difference on how easy, successful and enjoyable night fishing for catfish will ultimately be.

Tip #3: Remain Patient and Stealthy

Just because its night time doesn’t mean the catfish have lost all senses. You don’t want to be outshining the brightest fishing lights known to man and playing your favorite country music on your portable speaker.

Embrace the outdoors, kick back and relax and give it time. They don’t always bite within minutes (unless you scout and find great spots). Let the bait have time to bring the catfish to you and wait for the magic to begin.

Tip #4: Use the Correct Gear

This is huge, and we will cover this more in the next section about night catfishing equipment but for all intents and purposes. USE THE CORRECT GEAR.

It’s not that hard to comprehend that fishing gear matters with different species of fish. Catfish are known to fight and put a strain on your reels and rods.

It’s important to have gear that won’t malfunction and can stand up to the elements. You need to be using the correct fishing gear for catfish and you also need to be well prepared with the right gear for night fishing so that you actually have the tools necessary and can at least see what’s in front of you when you finally get a bite or land a fish on the dark banks with no other forms of lighting.

Plain and simple.

Tip #5: Remember the Bugs

Bugs are going to out and about in large quantities. Especially at night. You going home with at least a few pints of blood lost from mosquitoes if you don’t go prepared with bug repellent (Not literally, but it’s terrible).

If they aren’t bad when you first arrive, wait until you land your first fish. Once the scent of that fish is around your sitting area, the bugs will be out in quantities that you aren’t use to seeing if you have only day fished for catfish in the past.

Tip #6: Use the Freedom and Peace to your Advantage

Most other catfish anglers have already packed up shop and have headed home to watch the newest episode of “The Voice” with the wife. Not you on the other hand. If your boat fishing, you can take advantage of literally no one or very few other boats being on the water.

This helps keep the catfish out of the “spooked” mindset and allows you to target the hot spots without any other competition.

If you have a fish finder or depth finder/ sonar, you can attempt to locate the best structure and spots imaginable. The best part is, no one will be around to take these spots from you. It’s up for the taking so TAKE IT.

If your Bank fishing, the same applies. We all know we have spots we like to set up shop on our most frequented bodies of water. There is no worse feeling known to man or at least anglers when you arrive, and another family is having a picnic in your spot with only 1 child’s Zebco 202 fishing pole in the water that they aren’t even paying attention to.

Not at night time baby! It’s all fair game, and it would be Ludacris not to execute on these abilities.

Tip # 7: Enjoy the Calm Weather – Obviously Only if the Weather is Actually Calm

At night, you are usually going to run into more calm conditions. Less wind and other elements playing against you.

Anytime factors diminish against you, the odds sway dramatically back into your favor.

If your boat fishing this will allow for easier anchoring or less movement and if your bank fishing, it should just make everything much more manageable. Especially at night.

Essential Gear Needed For Night Catfishing

At night, you are usually going to run into more calm conditions. Less wind and other elements playing against you. Anytime factors diminish against you, the odds sway dramatically back into your favor.

If your boat fishing this will allow for easier anchoring or less movement and if your bank fishing, it should just make everything much more manageable. Especially at night.

Below is a list of some much needed and essential fishing gear needed to improve your catch rates for catfish your next fishing outing.

Let’s take a quick dive into some essentials you will need for successful night fishing for catfish. Here’s an easy overview.

1. Solid Light or Headlight/ Headlamp

You can’t fish for catfish at night in lakes, rivers or even your kitchen sink if you can’t see.

Have a decent light and some backup batteries for it, so you aren’t stuck looking foolish spinning in circles or using your iPhone to tie your rig.

2. Rod Holder

A good rod holder is essential if your night fishing. This gives you the ability to have multiple lines in the water without the fear of a 10 plus pound channel taking your pole straight into the water.

What fun is really going to be if you can’t even crack open a beer without the fear your gear is sinking to the bottom of the lake?

3. Bite Alarms for Catfish

Having a bite alarms is not an absolute must if you don’t have the budget for, but if you do, I’d argue that you should order them now. It’s an incredible added benefit to night fishing.

The ability to be alerted when a fish is beginning to dabble with your bait is an unbeatable advantage. Sometimes you want to take your eye off the action, or maybe you’re prepping another rod and line. Having the bite alarm allows for efficient multitasking and shouldn’t be ignored.

4. Bug Repellent

We already touched on this, but I’ll repeat it in case you got mouse happy and scrolled right past it. The bugs will eat you alive at night if you aren’t prepared with bug repellent.

If you forget to bring bug repellent the first-time night catfishing on a lake, please be sure to comment below and let us know how bad they got to you.

5. Survival Knife

Even if you think you know your surrounding and area you fish frequently, night catfishing is different. It can be hard to see and depending how much effort you put into trying to locate the perfect spot to cast out, trouble could be around the corner.

Have a decent survival knife with you just in case. You just never know what may be around the next tree bend.

6. Ice Cooler

You need somewhere to put your fish after catching the catfish.

Putting them on ice will slowly kill them in a calm humane manner and will keep them fresh for when you’re ready to cut and prep them for your next backyard fish fry.

Do you now feel you know how to catch catfish at night in lakes?

The goal of this blog was to illustrate a few things. First, that night fishing for catfish is an entirely different adventure than daytime catfishing.

It’s not always going to be the most lucrative in the form of high catch rates. Again, catfish bite all times of the day and the year. They eat when they are hungry.

That doesn’t mean however that feeding patterns when the sun disappears don’t change ever so slightly making night fishing for catfish a little bit easier to predict and a lot more fun. If you haven’t tried it, you need to.

Some proper fishing gear, high enthusiasm, and some patience will get you well on your way to landing more catfish the next time you hit the lake when the sun goes down.

As always, thanks for stopping by and if you haven’t done so already, be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter for the most up to date fishing tips and my recommended fishing gear.

Thanks again and 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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