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How to Catch a Catfish From a River

It takes patience and skill to catch a catfish from a river.
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When it comes to fishing in a river, one of the most exciting moments is catching a big catfish. Some catfish, which can be large enough to feed a few friends and family, can be a struggle to reel in, even for an experienced fisherman. If you love freshwater fishing, go fishing for your own big catfish and a catch of the day. The effort of reeling in a whiskered bottom feeder is worth the time and preparation needed. Catfish fillets are delicious and there are many recipes to help prepare your catch.

Things You'll Need:

  • Hook
  • Fishing Rod, Reel And Line
  • Bait (Chicken Livers, Nightcrawlers Or Processed Catfish Bait)
  • Sinker
Check a local fishing store to see when the best season to fish for catfish is.
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Talk to a local biologist or check a local fishing report to find out the best season to fish for catfish in your area. Since catfish are bottom dwellers, ask for a topographical map of underwater structures where catfish can hide.

Find a local fisherman and ask where the best place to fish is.
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Find local fishermen familiar with area rivers and ask them about the best spots to find catfish. Find a place near the river bank clear of large brush and rocks so as to lessen the chance of snags.

Catfish feed in early morning and evening so plan accordingly.
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Give yourself at least an hour to prepare for fishing. Catfish feed in the early morning and evening. You need time to find your location, rig your pole and camouflage the hook.

Set a nightcrawler or other type of catfish bait on the hook.
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Bait your hook. Try nightcrawlers, chicken livers or processed catfish bait. Use a knife to carefully cut the bait to fit your hook. Carefully slide the hook through the bait. Make sure the bait cannot slide off. Usually, local fishermen can tell you which bait is working best for a specific area and time.

Attach a sinker about a foot above the hook.
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Add weight to your fishing line by attaching a sinker about a foot above the hook. A common type of sinker is a "split shot." Place the line in the opening of the split shot and press to close.

Cast your line and let it drift.
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Cast your line and let it drift with the current. Keep the line tight and still. Wait for the fish to bite.

Wait for the pole to jerk down to pull up and set the hook in the fish's mouth.
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Wait for your the tip of your fishing pole to jerk down, signaling that a fish has your bait. Jerk your pole up to set the hook in the fish's mouth. Keep your rod tip up and reel in the fish.

Remove the hook from its mouth.
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Bring the catfish to shore and carefully remove the hook from its mouth. Release the fish back into the water or take it home to fillet and cook for dinner.


Ask a friend to join you fishing. Not only can a friend keep you company, it's good to have someone there to help you reel in a big catfish


  • Check local regulations and restrictions before fishing. Many rivers require fishermen to have a fishing license.
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