How to Catch a Pond Catfish

Three Parts:Choosing Bait and SuppliesCatching CatfishHandling Catfish Safely

Fishing for catfish in ponds is a fun activity. If you know catfish are native to your area, you should have some success trying to catch a catfish in a pond. You'll have to make sure you have the right bait and supplies. Choose the right location and time to seek out catfish. When handling catfish, take safety precautions. Use gloves to handle catfish and clean them properly before cooking and eating.

Part 1
Choosing Bait and Supplies

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    Select a bait that provides a strong smell. Catfish tend to be lured by smelly bait. When selecting the proper bait for your trap, opt for something that produces a strong odor. Some options include chad, chicken liver, night crawlers, and crawfish.[1]
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    Consider fish size when selecting a reel. Do you know roughly how big the catfish in your area tend to be? If not, ask other fishermen or look up information on your local Department of Natural Resources website. You can also try observing catfish in a nearby pond for a few days. Depending on the size of the catfish, you'll need a different sized reel.[2]
    • Light duty reels should be sufficient if the catfish in your area tend to be smaller. For larger catfish, go for a heavy duty reel.
    • If catfish in your area come in many different sizes, it may be a good idea to opt for heavy duty reel just to play it safe.
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    Pick an appropriate length rod. You may not need a long rod when fishing for catfish in a pond. While it will not hurt, longer rods are usually better suited for catching catfish in streams. A shorter rod, less than six to eight inches, should work for catching catfish in a pond.[3]
    • When it comes to fishing line, go for 10 pound test line. This allows you to get the bait towards the bottom of a body of water. Catfish tend to hang out deep under the water.
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    Use a lightweight slip sinker. A sinker is a weight used to sink a fishing line. When catching catfish, always use the lightest weight sinker available. A lightweight sinker will allow the catfish to taste the bait without feeling the weight of the sinker. If your sinker is too heavy, a catfish will likely become suspicious and drop the bait.[4]
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    Make sure hooks have bait holders. As you generally don't use things like worms to catch catfish, make sure your hooks have bait holders. The types of bait you'll be using, like crawfish or chicken liver, cannot be easily hooked onto a fishing rod.[5]

Part 2
Catching Catfish

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    Pick the right location. Location is vital to successfully catching catfish. Catfish tend to hangout in the deepest parts of the pond. Look for a hole or a dip in the ground underwater. You are also likely to find catfish near any obstruction in the pond, like a dam or a pile or rocks.[6]
    • If a creek feeds water into your pond, you're likely to find catfish here. There may be more food and vegetation near a creek, so catfish will congregate here in search of food.
    • Catfish tend to hide in lakes and ponds. If there is algae or other vegetation in your pond, catfish are likely to be found here.
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    Strive to be as quiet as possible. In a pond, it's easier for catfish to hear outside movement. When positioning yourself in the right location, try to be as quiet as possible. Walk slowly and keep your tackle box held close so it does not rattle around. Move delicately as you prepare your rod and bait. If a catfish hears too much motion, it will swim away.[7]
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    Use the tight line technique. The tight line technique involves attaching a tiny weight to your line. This will allow your line to fall down deeper into the pond. Catfish are more likely to be found at the bottom of the pond. This will also make it easier for you to feel a pull when a catfish grabs onto your line.[8]
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    Try fishing at night. Catfish are more likely to be found at night. If it's feasible for you, try to fish during the nighttime. Make sure to bring a flashlight or lantern so you can find your way around the pond.[9]
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    Anticipate resistance. Catfish can be very strong. When one does take your bait, it may provide a lot of resistance. Be prepared to pull on your rod hard, and use a lot of force when spinning your reel.[10]

Part 3
Handling Catfish Safely

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    Wear gloves when handling catfish. When you pull a catfish out of the water, make sure you wear gloves. When frightened, catfish will squirm. You can easily get cut by a catfish's fin without proper protection.[11]
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    Hold a catfish properly when removing it from your line. How you hold a catfish is important for safety. When removing the catfish from your line, wrap your hand around the fish behind the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin is the fin on top of a fish. Keep your fingers behind the gills and fins on the fish's side.[12]
    • You can use pliers to more easily remove the hook from a catfish.
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    Kill the fish. It's important you kill a catfish humanely shortly after capture. There are two main ways to kill a fish: stunning or spiking.[13]
    • To stun a fish, lay a forceful blow to its head using a blunt instrument. Aim above the eyes as this is where the brain is located. Occasionally, fish will not die on the first blow and may only be unconscious. It's a good idea to do a second blow, just to be safe.
    • If you have an ice pick or screwdriver handy, you can spike the fish. To do this, place the spike above the fish's eyes. Then, move the spike from side to side as this will destroy a fish's brain.
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    Place on ice. Once the catfish is dead, immediately store it in ice. You should always bring a cooler containing ice with you when fishing for catfish. This will preserve the fish's freshness and flavor.[14]
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    Soak catfish overnight. You want to make sure your catfish are clean before cooking and eating them. To do so, you'll need to soak them overnight with salt and vinegar.[15]
    • Add enough water to a pot to cover your catfish. Then, add 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
    • Refrigerate the pot overnight. Rinse the fish under cool water in the morning before cooking it.


  • Catfish in ponds are usually smaller than others, but sometimes they can be huge. Expect anything.

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Categories: Fishing