Angler night fishing on a quiet lake with glow-in-the-dark bobbers and a headlamp illuminating the area. The full moon and stars are visible, reflecting on the calm water. Fishing gear, including rods and tackle boxes, is nearby, creating a peaceful and inviting atmosphere

 Guide to Night Fishing for Catfish

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about night fishing for catfish, including the best baits, techniques, tips, and the optimal times for fishing. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, this article aims to provide valuable insights and practical advice to enhance your night fishing adventures.

Why Fish for Catfish at Night?

Catfish are nocturnal feeders, making nighttime one of the best times to catch them. As the sun sets, catfish become more active, venturing out from their daytime hiding spots to search for food. The reduced light levels provide them with a sense of security, making them less wary and more likely to bite. Additionally, night fishing can be a peaceful and serene experience, allowing anglers to escape the hustle and bustle of daytime activities.

Best Time to Catch Catfish at Night

The optimal time for night fishing for catfish typically starts at dusk and extends until the early hours of the morning. However, the best specific times can vary depending on the species and local conditions.

  • Dusk and Early Evening: This is when catfish begin to emerge from their daytime hiding spots. It’s an excellent time to start fishing as the fish are becoming more active.
  • Midnight to Early Morning: Many anglers find that the hours around midnight and shortly after are highly productive. The fish have fully adjusted to the darkness and are actively hunting for food.
  • Pre-Dawn Hours: Just before sunrise can also be an excellent time to catch catfish. The fish are still active from the night and the slight increase in light can sometimes trigger a feeding frenzy.

Best Bait for Night Fishing Catfish

Choosing the right bait is crucial for a successful night fishing trip. Catfish have a keen sense of smell, so using baits that emit strong scents can significantly improve your chances of catching them. Here are some of the best baits for night fishing catfish:

1. Chicken Liver

Chicken liver is a popular and effective bait for catfish. Its strong scent and bloody texture attract catfish from a distance. It can be a bit tricky to keep on the hook, so using a bait holder or tying it with thread can help.

2. Nightcrawlers

Nightcrawlers, or large earthworms, are a staple bait for catfish. They are easy to find, inexpensive, and catfish love them. Nightcrawlers can be used on their own or combined with other baits for added attraction.

3. Cut Bait

Cut bait, such as pieces of shad, herring, or other small fish, is highly effective for catching larger catfish. The oils and blood released from the cut bait create a scent trail that catfish find irresistible.

4. Stink Baits

Stink baits are specially formulated to have a strong odor that attracts catfish. They come in various forms, including dough balls, paste, and dip bait. These baits are easy to use and can be highly effective, especially in waters where catfish are accustomed to them.

5. Hot Dogs

Surprisingly, hot dogs can be an excellent bait for catfish. They are easy to cut into pieces, stay on the hook well, and emit a scent that attracts catfish. Adding a bit of garlic powder or other scents can make them even more appealing.

6. Shrimp

Fresh or frozen shrimp can be a great bait for catfish. The scent and taste of shrimp are highly attractive to catfish, making it an effective option. Be sure to peel the shrimp and use the meat on your hook.

Techniques for Night Fishing Catfish

To maximize your success while night fishing for catfish, consider employing the following techniques:

1. Bottom Fishing

Catfish are typically bottom feeders, so fishing on or near the bottom is crucial. Use a sinker to keep your bait near the bottom and consider using a slip-sinker rig to allow the fish to take the bait without feeling resistance.

2. Chumming

Chumming involves dispersing small amounts of bait in the water to attract catfish to your fishing area. Use cut bait, stink bait, or commercial chum to create a scent trail that draws catfish in.

3. Using Multiple Rods

Setting up multiple rods can increase your chances of catching catfish. Place rods at different distances and depths to cover more area and find where the catfish are feeding.

4. Glow-in-the-Dark Gear

Using glow-in-the-dark gear, such as rod tips, bobbers, and line, can help you see bites and activity in the dark. This can be especially helpful in low-light conditions.

5. Patience and Persistence

Night fishing requires patience and persistence. Catfish may take some time to find your bait, so be prepared to wait and try different spots if necessary.

Bank Fishing for Catfish at Night

Bank fishing is a popular and accessible way to catch catfish at night. Here are some tips to enhance your bank fishing experience:

1. Choose the Right Location

Look for areas with structure, such as rocks, fallen trees, or underwater ledges. These spots provide hiding places for catfish and can be productive fishing areas.

2. Use a Headlamp

A headlamp is essential for night fishing from the bank. It allows you to see what you’re doing while keeping your hands free. Choose a headlamp with a red light option to avoid spooking the fish.

3. Stay Quiet and Low-Profile

Catfish can be sensitive to noise and vibrations. Keep your movements and noise to a minimum to avoid scaring them away.

4. Cast Close to Structure

Catfish often hide near structures, so casting your bait close to these areas can increase your chances of success. Be careful not to get snagged, though.

Tips for Catching Flathead Catfish at Night

Flathead catfish are one of the most challenging and rewarding species to catch. They are known for their size and strength, making them a prized catch for many anglers. Here are some tips for targeting flathead catfish at night:

1. Use Live Bait

Flathead catfish prefer live bait, such as bluegill, sunfish, or small carp. The movement of live bait attracts flatheads and triggers their predatory instincts.

2. Fish Near Cover

Flathead catfish are ambush predators that often hide near cover, such as submerged logs, brush piles, or rock formations. Focus your efforts on these areas.

3. Use Heavy Tackle

Flathead catfish can grow very large, so using heavy tackle is essential. Opt for a strong rod, a high-capacity reel, and heavy line (20-50 lb test) to handle these powerful fish.

4. Be Patient

Flathead catfish are known for their cautious behavior. It may take some time for them to commit to biting, so patience is key. Once you get a bite, be prepared for a strong fight.

Summer Night Catfishing Tips

Summer is a prime time for night fishing for catfish. The warmer water temperatures increase catfish activity, and the long nights provide ample fishing opportunities. Here are some tips for summer night catfishing:

1. Stay Hydrated and Protected

Summer nights can still be hot and humid. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and wear appropriate clothing to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects.

2. Target Shallow Areas

During the summer, catfish often move into shallower areas to feed at night. Focus on fishing near the shorelines, especially in areas with vegetation or cover.

3. Use Fresh Bait

In the warm summer waters, fresh bait is crucial. Avoid using old or spoiled bait, as it can quickly lose its effectiveness. Keep your bait fresh and cool to maintain its appeal.

4. Pay Attention to Weather Patterns

Weather patterns can significantly impact catfish behavior. Overcast nights, warm fronts, and slight changes in barometric pressure can all enhance catfish activity. Plan your fishing trips accordingly.

Safety Considerations for Night Fishing

Night fishing comes with its own set of safety considerations. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Bring a Friend

Fishing with a buddy can enhance your safety and make the experience more enjoyable. If something goes wrong, having someone there can be invaluable.

2. Use Proper Lighting

Adequate lighting is essential for night fishing. In addition to a headlamp, bring extra flashlights and batteries. Use lanterns or LED lights to illuminate your fishing area.

3. Know the Area

Familiarize yourself with the fishing location during daylight hours. Identify potential hazards, such as steep banks, deep holes, or obstacles, and plan your fishing spot accordingly.

4. Wear a Life Jacket

If you’re fishing from a boat or near deep water, wearing a life jacket is a smart safety measure. Even strong swimmers can encounter difficulties in the dark.

5. Stay Alert

Stay aware of your surroundings and watch for wildlife or other potential dangers. Be mindful of the weather and be prepared to pack up quickly if conditions deteriorate.

Helpful Statistics

  1. Catfish Populations: According to the American Fisheries Society, catfish are the second most popular species for anglers in the U.S., with millions of anglers targeting them each year.
  2. Catch Rates: Studies have shown that catch rates for catfish can be 50% higher at night compared to daytime fishing.
  3. Preferred Baits: Surveys among catfish anglers indicate that 35% prefer using chicken liver, 30% prefer nightcrawlers, and 25% prefer cut bait.

Buyer’s Guide for Night Fishing Gear

1. Rod and Reel Combos

  • Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo: Known for its durability and sensitivity, this rod and reel combo is excellent for catfish fishing.
  • Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel and Rod Combo: Offers high performance and durability, ideal for targeting larger catfish.

2. Fishing Line

  • PowerPro Spectra Fiber Braided Fishing Line: Strong and durable, this line is great for handling the power of large catfish.
  • Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line: Known for its high strength and shock resistance, making it suitable for night fishing.

3. Hooks and Rigs

  • Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hooks: These hooks are sharp and strong, perfect for ensuring a good hook set on catfish.
  • Team Catfish Sinker Slides: Allows for easy rigging and adjusting your sinker setup, essential for bottom fishing.

4. Bait

  • Magic Big Bite Chicken Liver: Ready-to-use chicken liver bait that stays on the hook well and attracts catfish.
  • Berkley PowerBait Catfish Bait Chunks: Stink bait that’s easy to use and highly effective.

5. Lighting

  • Black Diamond Spot Headlamp: A reliable headlamp with multiple lighting modes, including red light to avoid spooking fish.
  • Vont LED Camping Lantern: Compact, bright, and long-lasting, perfect for illuminating your fishing area.

Recommended Products


Night fishing for catfish is a rewarding and exciting endeavor that offers a unique blend of challenge and tranquility. By understanding the best times, baits, techniques, and safety measures, you can increase your chances of a successful and enjoyable night fishing experience. Whether you’re targeting channel catfish, blue catfish, or the elusive flathead catfish, the tips and strategies outlined in this guide will help you make the most of your nighttime fishing adventures. Happy fishing!

References and Further Reading

These references and affiliate product links will help you gear up and prepare for a successful night fishing trip. Enjoy the peace and excitement that comes with fishing under the stars, and may your lines always be tight with the weight of a big catfish!

Raphael Dume
Raphael Dume

Raphael Dume, bestselling author and internet entrepreneur, is the visionary behind He developed this platform to inspire and educate outdoor enthusiasts., driven by a team of experts, offers accurate, insightful content and resources for adventurers of all levels. The site is a trusted guide for outdoor tips, gear reviews, and experiences, reflecting Raphael's passion for the outdoors and commitment to fostering a community of nature lovers.

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