When Do Catfish Spawn? How to Catch Them During Spawning?

Catfish is a ray-finned type of fish that has over 3,000 species. Knowing when a catfish spawns is crucial for anglers as it affects when they bite and where you can target them.

When do catfish spawn? Catfish spawn between late spring and early summer. The water temperature during that time is perfect for these unique fish to spawn. However, if the water temperature changes and gets too cold for the catfish, they may put a hold on spawning until it is warm enough for them to spawn again.

I’m sure you’re now wondering; when do catfish bite? And do they bite during spawning? Keep reading to find out more!

When Do Catfish Bite?

a photo of a catfish to show when they spawn

Technically, catfish bite all year long. However, the best time for catfish to bite is right before they start spawning, which is right when the water temperature starts warming up. You can learn more about catching catfish in hot weather here.

Water temperature plays a huge role when catfish start biting, as well as spawning. The best time for them to bite is when the water temperature reaches between 55°F and 75°F (12-23°C).

Do Catfish Bite During Spawning?

The short answer is catfish do bite during spawning, however, it is probably not the best idea to fish for catfish while they are actively spawning. During spawning, the fish will be too focused on protecting their nest and could go on for days or even weeks without eating.

The great thing about catfish, though, is that they don’t all spawn at the same time. Different types of catfish spawn at different times, which allows anglers to fish for catfish all year long.

It’s best to wait for the spawning period to be over to guarantee that you will be catching some catfish. That is for the simple reason that the fish will be very eager to feed after a long period of looking after their nest. And, as mentioned before, catching catfish before their spawning period is also a good option. 

Although it might be a challenge to catch catfish during spawning, there are ways and means to do so. All you need is the right time, bait, and lure to be able to catch these tricky creatures. 

When Do Catfish Spawn?

Catfish spawn between late spring and early summer. The water temperature during that time is perfect for them to spawn naturally. However, if the water temperature changes and gets too cold for the catfish, they will not spawn until the temperature is warm enough

How to Catch Catfish During Spawning?

There is good news for anglers who want to catch catfish during the spawning season. As mentioned before, different types of catfish spawn at different times of the year. Sometimes, some of these fish are a little late with their spawning periods, so some anglers see that as an opportunity to catch these fish in their pre-spawn period. However, it is very possible to catch catfish during their spawning period as well. Here, we will talk about what helps.

Where to Target Spawning Catfish?

Knowing where to target catfish is crucial for anglers during the spawning period. Some good advice would be to start fishing in shallow water. That way, you can see clearly when a catfish picks your bait up.

Some other good advice would be to look for holes along rivers. The male catfish usually tuck themselves in these holes to protect the nest, but if you’re lucky enough, you could lure the fish in with your bait. This technique requires a lot of concentration, but it can be done easily.

Another place to look for catfish is rocks. Most anglers are not very fond of fishing near rocks. Unfortunately, though, that is where a lot of catfish like to spawn. It might be a little tricky to bait those little swimmers while they spawn near rocks, but a good tip for that would be to let your bait float along the rock with a fishing bobber and move the bait slowly so that the spawning catfish could latch onto it. 

When to Target Spawning Catfish?

Here is where it gets a little tricky. Since there are many types of catfish, knowing exactly when each of them spawns can be hard to keep up with. However, targeting when to catch these fish depends on not only where they are, but also the water temperature around the catfish. 

For example, it is believed that the Southeast catfish spawn a little later than the average catfish, which usually spawn in warmer water temperatures. It’s easier to catch them when the water temperature drops from 55°F (12°C).

Some also believe that you need the right amount of daylight to be able to catch spawning catfish. That is because the fish usually recognize that it is summer, and it’s perhaps the right time to spawn. Daylight makes it easier for anglers to catch fish during that period.

If you are aiming for trophy catfish, for example, it’s best to target them from mid-July into August. Most catfish spawn during the warm weather, and although it’s hard to catch catfish during the spawning period, it is certainly possible.

You can check out this guide on the best time to catch catfish to learn more.

Best Baits for Spawning Catfish

Knowing that there are many types of catfish, it’s best to do your research on each type of bait depending on what type of catfish you’re trying to catch. The following types of baits are the most general, but most effective, types of baits to use on catfish during their spawning period. 

Here are the best baits to use for spawning catfish:

  1. Skipjack Herring
  2. Blood Bait
  3. Stink Bait
  4. Crawfish
  5. Asian Carp 
  6. Chicken Livers
  7. Nightcrawlers
  8. White Suckers
  9. Shrimp
  10. Punch Bait
  11. Dip Bait
  12. Gutted Fish
  13. Catfish Scent Additives

These are some of the most irresistible baits for catfish that can be used during spawning seasons. Using the right bait for the right type of fish will have you catching these sea creatures in no time. All you need to do as an angler is to research the type of bait that is most effective with the type of catfish you want to catch.

Best Lures for Spawning Catfish

Unlike bait, lures are artificial items that can be store-bought that are usually in the shape of a fish’s prey. They can come in all different shapes depending on what type of fish you’re trying to catch. There are different types of lures for catfish specifically since they are massively diverse. 

Catfish, in particular, are attracted to smell-based lures the most. They are also attracted to colorful lures. There’s no doubt that tempting catfish with at least one of the following lures will guarantee a successful catch during their spawning period.

Here is a list of the best lures for spawning catfish:

  1. Cheeto Puffs
  2. Strawberry Starburst (wrapped in salmon egg)
  3. Cherry and Lime Starburst
  4. Stale Donuts
  5. Rapala Shad Crankbaits
  6. Raw Jimmy Dean Sausage
  7. Raw Pillsbury Biscuit (soaked in Tuna juice)
  8. Raw Chicken Gizzards
  9. Berkley’s Gulp!
  10. Fake Worms

How to Catch Catfish After their Spawning Period?

Just like with bait, anglers need to do their research on the most effective type of lure depending on the type of catfish they’re trying to catch. 

It is known among fishers that catching catfish after their spawning period is one of the best times to catch catfish. The reason for that is the fish that have been protecting the nest can go on for weeks without feeding, which causes catfish to be hungrier than usual. 

Catching catfish during this time can be easy. Anglers can use just about any bait or lure, and they can almost guarantee that they will get a catch. Some say that it’s even a good time to try out live bait; it can be fun as well as effective.

Outdoorskilled’s Recommended Gear for Superb Catfishing

I’ve tested dozens of reels, rods, and lines for Catfishing, and after years of testing, here are my quick picks that will definitely improve your current setup and results!

My recommended reel is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Reel C3-7000 which is ideally suited for catfish.

The rod I always recommend is the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod. It’s lightweight, durable, and affordable. Furthermore, you’d have a wide selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looking for a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be getting two rods rather than one.

What I use is the Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line as it’s the strongest, toughest mono I’ve ever tested and because it has exceptional shock strength, great knot integrity, tremendous abrasion resistance, and a high-visibility color option, you really can’t find better options

Related Questions

How Do You Know Catfish Are Spawning?

You will know when catfish are spawning by observing their behavior. Female fish will usually lay the eggs behind a log, hole, or rock. Male fish are usually there protecting the nest while the female fish rests. Another indicator is that the fish tend to get more aggressive when you try to catch them.

How Long Does It Take for Catfish to Spawn?

The catfish spawning period usually takes from 6 to 10 days, but it’s advised to wait for two weeks if anyone wants to take advantage of the post-spawning period. That period is the best time to catch catfish because they are usually hungry and will bite into their bait quicker than during or before the spawning period.

Resources for Catching Catfish Faster and More Easily

Helpful Resources

Maturation and Spawning in Fish

A Beginner’s Guide to Catfish Fishing

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