By Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Staff (FWC)

Helpful hints and tips for catfish fishing in Florida

Catfish may be one of the staples for anglers who enjoy eating their catch. 

Channel catfish are abundant throughout Florida, spawning in holes and crevices in flowing water. Channel catfish may exceed 40 pounds, although the typical size is less than five pounds. White catfishyellow bullheads and brown bullheads usually range from one to two pounds, and readily spawn in lakes and ponds where they also provide good fishing. Most catfish prefer many of the same food items as bream, although they are opportunistic and will rarely pass up any meal.

The "whiskers" are loaded with sensory cells that enable catfish to locate their food by smell. Take advantage of this by using baits with strong odors: chicken liver or gizzards, shrimp, cut mullet and commercial stinkbaits. Other baits work well too, especially earthworms, and occasionally freshwater clams.

Many catfish become active just before dusk and at night, and fishing success is best during these times. Fish on the bottom with a sturdy #2 to #4 hook and a heavy split shot sinker. Catfish spines may cause a painful injury, and anglers should take care when handling these fish. The Commissions Richloam Hatchery produces 200,000 - 300,000 channel catfish annually for stocking in urban lakes.