Do Catfish Bite And When do Catfish Start Biting?

When do catfish start biting? When does it end?

That’s the question many catfish anglers want to know.

Especially the newer catfish anglers out there actively searching for this kind of information. When do catfish bite is probably the topic of many debates among anglers as well. Some believe that night fishing is the only way to go.

But before I start answering all of your questions:

Do catfish bite?

Catfish do bite during both winter and summer although it seems like catfish really stars biting during warmer water temperatures in the summer.

Others believe that it’s anytime, all day and every day. My opinion and my answer to the question would be, it depends. It depends on many things. Where you live, the body of water your fishing and whether your targeting channel, flathead, or blue catfish can also make a difference in the overall biting tendencies.

The key is pinpointing the catfish your targeting. Using the correct fishing gear and having the fundamentals ready to go so that you’re prepared to strike when the biting gets hot and ready for action.

Be sure to check out my article about catfish eating other fish.

When do Catfish Start Biting?

Catfish bites all year long but catfish really starts biting during the summer from pre-spawn until the water temperature starts to drop.

Continue reading…

Whether your experienced or not, I applaud you for trying to up your game and actively find more proactive ways to catching more catfish. As an angler, (not a professional by any means) I’m always looking for and open to new suggestions and ways to catch more fish. That’s how we ended up here discussing the common topic of when catfish start biting.

catfish just caught on a hook

What Time Do Catfish Bite

Anglers tend to target catfish during the warmer summer months and during nighttime hours. At nighttime catfish can be more predictable giving anglers an advantage.

Seasonal Catfishing

We won’t break this down very deep, but I wanted to point out based on my original answer that it really depends on when catfishing begins biting. My ultimate guide to catfish fishing details the fishing based on the season, but that still doesn’t really answer the question where I believe you would be satisfied with the answer so let me explain.

Climate and Weather will Always make a big difference on your ability to catch catfish. Learn the patterns for the ultimate edge. Plain and simple.

Climate and Weather Matters

It is essential to keep in mind that the winters I go through in Illinois and the overall catch rate I’m going to have from October through February are entirely different then the catch rate than Chad Ferguson from Catfish Edge is going to have down in Texas.

Well, the climate plus I’m not a professional guide or pro cat fisherman like he is either, so he would probably run circles around me regardless of the climate and geographic location.

Warmer Weather Climates

In warmer weather climates, in my opinion, plus the polls from various forums and other sources, it seems that the biting for channels really picks up about the same time that the water temperature begins picking up as well. The primary goal you should have from the get-go it fine-tuning your skills and zoning in one species of catfish.

Trying to be “jack of all trades” is going to ultimately just make you mediocre at catching blue catfish, channels, and flatheads but never really excel at learning one or the other. Trust me, I had the same issues. I wanted them all and didn’t want to invest any time in additional learning unless it was by casting and waiting for the next fish.

When I zeroed in my efforts on channel catfish only and actively began pursuing methods to increase my likelihood of being successful and learning the craft, the fishing got good. Really good. It was at this point where I felt, now I can expand and begin targeting my next victim and the future. But overall, key tip #1. Learn one kind of catfish first.

You probably wouldn’t even be googling the questions of when catfish bite or when catfish start biting if you were already following these guidelines.

amateur angler holds the catfish

Warmer Weather Areas of the US

If you live in the warmer states of the United States or the areas that at least don’t go through frigid winters as Illinois does, you may have some of your best luck targeting catfish in the winter. Especially if it’s the blue catfish that you are locked in on.

In all honesty, even in the colder states, it’s still possible to catch catfish year-round but from what I have seen, experienced or been told through fellow angler stories, winter in the warmer states can be incredible for catfishing.

Where do The Catfish go When It’s Hot?

Well, first and most importantly, when it starts warming up, the catfish begin spawning which for the channel catfish can really trigger some great biting. This all just part of the natural catfish patterns that you must slowly learn and pick up as you go. As far as flatheads and blues, the spawn time isn’t nearly as lucrative for landing catfish after catfish.

Outside of the Summer and Winter Catfishing, you still have the fall and spring to consider

These can be equally good times to catfish, but you do hit some dips in timing and a few weeks out of these seasons where it can begin getting frustrating locating the catfish. Especially here in Illinois. Until the water temperatures fully level off and stabilize, the catfish seem pretty skid dish which is obviously frustrating for all of us.

There is no worst feeling out there than putting in the time, effort, proper catfish gear preparation and still come up short all because of some silly water temperature issues. However, it is what it is, and it’s just how it goes during these seasons of the year trying to locate catfish.

Relax, it will all be Okay

The downtime during this catfishing drought is short lived and won’t last long. All your waiting for is the water temperatures to stabilize to kickstart the actual biting and to get things moving again. It’s the rapid drops and changes in the water temperatures that are causing the issue.

Another Strategy

You can also use storms and catfishing after some rain to get things going and moving again as well. If you can get a decent rain that gets the natural foods and water flowing around again and wait about 48 hours post rain, you should notice your fortunes beginning to change for all three of the main species, blue channel and flathead catfish.

Something to keep in Mind

Always remember, and this holds true for other species of fish as well not just catfish. The catfish know that winter is lingering. They obviously don’t wear a watch or remember the exact day, but the air temperature and water temperature tell a story to them that it’s time to feast before winter of light eating.

And that they do. You should always be actively trying to snag some last catfish of the year if your one of the anglers that like to hang up the gear for the winter right around the September, October and November timelines. The biting can be a final feeding frenzy during these times.

Trust me, it’s worth it. Even in a colder state like Illinois or anywhere in the Midwest. It’s even better in the warmer states.

fisherman caught large catfish

How Often do Catfish Eat?

This is also an area of popular debate. It seems there doesn’t happen to be the perfect answer, but it’s believed that depending on the species of catfish they eat every few days but once they are ready to eat, they go overboard and are prepared for a full-blown buffet. Some have said that every 3 days seems to be the answer and other say flatheads, channel and blues only eat every 5 days or so.

I wish I had a better answer for you, but I’m not very confident myself but found it to be interesting to discuss to see if a conversation may spark below about it, so if you have any conflicting theories on how often catfish bite, be sure to leave a comment below. I’m interested in knowing what all of you think about this as well.

What About Night or Day? Hot or Cold?

Do Catfish Bite when It’s Cold or Bitter Outside?

Catfish will bite just fine even if your ice fishing for channel catfish. Been there and done that. They surely aren’t eating at the same rates they do during other warmer weather climate times of the year, but they surely will still bite if you put some effort into it, use the correct gear and have a strategy in place to get the job done.

What Temperature do Catfish Start Biting?

I think we have already covered this in-depth at this point, but we can point it out again that catfish will bite just about any temperatures or any time of the year. Winter, summer, fall, and spring. Catfish will still bite.

Sure, sometimes it slows down, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with how many you can catch. It doesn’t matter if it’s the day before Christmas or raining in September. Catfish do bite right in the rain and the shine.

Of course, this is assuming you are using well-chosen catfish baits, the correct gear and have some background knowledge on catfishing in general. Not that you can’t catch catfish without knowledge but the few fundamentals to be deadly with catfishing will go way further than you think if you take the time to learn them.

Catfish Spawning and Catfish Patterns

We won’t break down the full spawning habits of catfish in this article because you can always see my ultimate guide for that but the important to take away is that most fish species follow pretty predictable patterns throughout the year. This is the same and holds true for catfish. Learning these patterns can be the keys to the kingdom.

If you can learn to hit them when they are active or when you know a nicely placed bait will yield good results you will save a lot of time and effort catching catfish. Plain and simple.


Do you feel you know when catfish bite for the most part? Your turn… Anything to add?

This was merely just to show when good catfishing times may be and when your luck will be increased over other times to catch large amounts of catfish. I hope that it can help at least one of you get on the road to landing more catfish.

Learning patterns, spawn times and overall eating habits of catfish can be powerful, so you should make it top priority to enhance the whole experience.

As always, I appreciate you stopping by and thanks for reading. If you haven’t done so already be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter to get the latest recommendations and hottest new fishing gear.

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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