Trolling For Catfish: Secrets to a Successful Catch Unveiled

Are you ready to catch the biggest, juiciest catfish? Trolling is the way to go! It’s a thrilling and highly effective technique for reeling these tasty fish, and easier than you might think.

But where do you start? Don’t worry- we’ve got you covered. From choosing the right equipment to mastering the best trolling techniques, our expert guide has everything you need to become a pro at trolling for catfish in no time.

So why wait? Let’s get started and see what kind of whoppers we can catch!

Trolling For Catfish: The Right Techniques

How to Troll for Catfish

Trolling for catfish involves slowly dragging bait behind a boat, usually using a trolling motor, to cover a large area of water and attract the attention of catfish. To start, it’s important to choose the right equipment such as a sturdy fishing rod and reel, a strong fishing line, and a trolling rig or sinker.

Once you have your equipment ready, it’s time to select the right bait. You can use various baits, such as cut bait, worms, or stink baits, to catch catfish. After selecting the bait, attach it to your trolling rig and set the rig to the desired depth.

Next, slowly start your boat and troll along a shoreline or drop off using your trolling motor. Make sure to vary your speed and direction to keep the bait in the strike zone. Once a catfish bites, reel in the slack and set the hook by quickly jerking the rod.

The Secret to Catching Catfish

The secret to catching catfish while trolling is to keep the bait in the strike zone as long as possible. Slow down your trolling speed and adjust the depth of your bait to find and catch catfish in their preferred location. 

Catfish are more likely to bite when the bait is near the bottom, so make sure to keep an eye on your depth finder and adjust the rig accordingly.

Another important factor is to use a scent to attract catfish. Stink baits emit strong scents that attract catfish due to their keen sense of smell. So, consider using a scent when trolling for catfish to increase your chances of a successful catch.

Slow Trolling For Catfish

Slow trolling is a fishing technique that involves moving the boat at a slow speed while keeping the lines in the water with bait. This technique allows the bait to remain in the catfish’s strike zone for a longer period, increasing the chances of a bite. 

You can achieve the slow movement of the boat by using a trolling motor or by drifting with the current. This method works best in deep water with a slow-moving current, especially during the warmer months when catfish are more active.

This technique can be highly effective, especially in the warmer months when catfish are more active.

Best Time to Troll For Catfish

Best Month for Catfishing

The best time to fish for catfish depends on the species you’re targeting and the conditions of the body of water you’re fishing in. However, in general, catfish can be caught year-round.

For example, in the Southern US, summer months are typically the best time for catfishing, as catfish are more active in warmer water temperatures. In the northern regions, spring and fall tend to be the best seasons for catfishing.

Time of Day for Catfishing

Catfish are most active at night, particularly during the warmer months, making them easier to catch. However, catfish can be caught at any time of day, especially when the water is warmer.

The best times for catfishing during the day are in the early morning or late evening when the water is cooler. On cloudy days or during overcast conditions, catfish are more likely to be active during the day.

Best Time of Year for Catfishing

The best time of year for catfishing also depends on the species you’re targeting. In general, summer months are typically the best time for catfishing, as catfish are more active in warmer water temperatures. 

However, in the spring, catfish move into shallower water to spawn, making them easier to catch. During the fall, catfish are feeding heavily to prepare for winter, making them more susceptible to the bait.

No matter the season, it’s always a good idea to check local fishing reports and regulations before heading out on the water.

Best Baits For Catfish 

When it comes to trolling for catfish, there are several baits that are known to be effective. Trolling for catfish is an exciting and productive way to catch these delicious fish. It’s important to use the right equipment, including the right bait, to get the best results.

But with so many different types of baits available, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one. So, what is the number 1 catfish bait? And what bait is irresistible to catfish?

Here are the 5 best baits for catfish:

1. Live Bait

Live bait such as shad or bluegill can be a highly effective choice for catching catfish. It mimics the natural prey of catfish, making them more likely to bite. It’s important to use fresh bait to ensure that it releases a strong scent that catfish can detect.

Fishing with live bait is an effective way to catch catfish in lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water where they feed on live prey.

2. Artificial Baits

Artificial baits such as plastic worms or lures that imitate the scent and movement of real baitfish can also be highly effective. Fishers use a variety of colors and scents of artificial baits and rig them differently to mimic live baitfish swimming in the water. They choose artificial bait when fishing in clear water or when live bait is not available.

3. Cut Bait

Cut bait such as shad, skipjack, or bluegill can be very effective for catching catfish. Cutting the bait releases a strong scent that catfish are attracted to, making cut bait a great option for fishing in deep waters or for catching larger catfish.

4. Stink Baits

Stink baits release a strong, fishy scent that catfish find irresistible. Anglers can use these baits alone or in combination with other types of baits to enhance their effectiveness. They come in different scents and are most effective when fishing in murky waters or targeting bottom-dwelling catfish species.

5. Live Crawfish

Live crawfish can be an extremely effective bait for catfish. Trolling with live crawfish is a popular technique for catching catfish. Live crawfish mimic a natural food source for catfish and can be fished on their own or in combination with other baits. This type of bait is especially effective in rivers, streams, or other bodies of water where crawfish are a natural food source for catfish.


How fast should you troll for catfish?

The speed to troll for catfish varies. Typically, trolling speeds between 1-3 miles per hour are suitable for catfish. It’s important to pay attention to the water conditions and the activity level of the fish, you may need to adjust the trolling speed accordingly. Slow trolling speeds are usually more effective for larger catfish.

What weights to use for catfishing?

The weight to use for catfishing depends on specific conditions such as the depth of the water, current, and wind. In general, use a heavier weight when fishing in deeper waters or when there is a strong current, and a lighter weight when fishing in shallow waters or when there is little to no current.
Typically, a good starting point for weight is to use 3/8 to 1/2 oz for the sinker, depending on the depth of the water and the strength of the current.

Where do catfish hide during the day?

During the day, catfish tend to hide in areas with plenty of covers such as logs, rocks, and vegetation. They also prefer areas with little to no current such as backwaters, coves, and eddies.
Additionally, catfish also tend to hide in deeper waters during the day to avoid the warmer surface water temperatures and will move to shallower waters at night to feed.

Do catfish like deep or shallow water?

Catfish can be found in both deep and shallow water, depending on the species and the specific conditions. Some species such as blue catfish and flathead catfish prefer deeper waters while channel catfish are found in shallow waters.
Additionally, catfish also tend to move to deeper waters during the hot summer months to avoid warmer surface water temperatures.

At what temperature do catfish stop biting? (How long should you wait for catfish to bite?

The optimal water temperature for catfish ranges from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the catfish will become less active and may stop biting.
As for the other question, it can vary depending on the type of catfish and the specific conditions. It is recommended to give the catfish at least 30 minutes to an hour to bite before moving to a different spot.

Should I use a bobber when fishing for catfish?

Yes, using a bobber can be beneficial when fishing for catfish as it allows you to keep the bait at a specific depth, making it easier to detect when a catfish bites. Additionally, a bobber can also be used to detect subtle bites or nibbles from catfish, which can be difficult to detect without one.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations! You’re now a pro at trolling for catfish. With the right equipment, the best techniques, and a little bit of patience, you’ll be reeling in impressive catches in no time.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tactics and locations to find what works best for you. And most importantly, have fun! There’s nothing quite like the thrill of reeling in a giant catfish while trolling. Happy fishing!

Anthony Jones
Anthony Jones

Anthony is an expert in fishing and trolling motor equipment, based in Austin. In his free time, he can often be found out on the water, perfecting his fishing techniques and testing out the latest gear.

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