Coarse Fishing

Catfish

Our brief, plain speaking guide to the heavyweight of course fishing - catfish.



You won’t mistake a catfish if you see one during your coarse fishing expeditions… those six lengthy whisker-like barbs around its big wide mouth make it unlike anything else. It’s a good job the whiskers are there, as they are wildly varied in colours and sizes worldwide (though just to confuse matters not all catfish have the distinctive whiskers). Most that you will encounter – Europeans are not likely to encounter the quarter-ton monsters that can be found in Asiatic waters! – will be similar to eel in having a long scaleless body. They typically have a small dorsal fin, and a long and low anal fin.
Colour varies with environment: darker fish are found in clear water, brown in muddier.
 
Finding them
Catfish habituate big warm lakes and deeper slow rivers. Nocturnal, they stay in sheltered waters during the day, so keep an eye out for them in deeps or under overhangs etc.
 
Food and bait
Catfish have wide mouths with hundreds of small teeth to grip prey, then passed back to rough pads that efficiently mince their food – meaning they have a wide-ranging appetite for all sorts of stuff, including bottom dwelling fish, ducklings, water voles, frogs, small fry and larvae. If not hunting live prey, they will have a go at carrion if it smells good. Most eating is under the cover of darkness, so at night or in murky water. Their sheer size and large mouths mean big bait is the way to go, including live and deadbaiting with other coarse fish, bigger boilies, and hooks festooned with large worms.
 
Breeding
Catfish spawn May to July, the male making a depression in shallows for the female to deposit eggs, which he will then guard for the next 9-11 days.
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