Equipment you will need :
- Fishing Craft
- Good Set of Boat Anchors
- 12v Auxiliary Power System
- External Night Lights
- Submerged Lighting
- Live Bait Keeper
- System For Chumming
- Boat Rod Holders
- Heavy Duty Bait Casting Or Spinning Rig
- Insect Repellent
Once you have tried Night Fishing For catfish you will be hooked for life. Trust me If you do it correctly you will catch fish, not only will you catch fish but some will be lunkers! Catfish feed at night and are very active, and when they get into a feeding frenzy fishing action can be incredible! Catfish are attracted to submerged lighting And have a very keen sense of smell. If you can put yourself in the catfish's nightly habitat location there are some simple methods you can use to entice the cats to feed more aggressively. Before I explain these methods in detail, there are some basic night fishing setups we need to address. Fishing at night is a totally different ball game then fishing during the day.
Boat Setup for night fishing
Before you even think about going night fishing for catfish you need to have the following items:, lights for inside the boat ,either battery or Coleman fuel type lanterns with two mantles. Distribute your lanterns evenly through out your boat. I hang 3 halogen batter powered lights in my 20 foot pontoon. I hang two in the front, one on each side of the boat, and 1 one on my canopy on the back of my pontoon. (You could replace battery powered lights with propane lights, just remember the propane lights attract a ton of insects)
I also recommend you purchase a small light you clip on the visor of a ball cap. This small light comes in handy when you are re-rigging your fishing poles.You are probably asking why do i need these lights when I already have inside lights, Good question;These small lights have pin pointed light intensity that is great when you have to thread line through a hook or when putting bait and sinkers on. (you can limit this by using heavy tackle and making sure your line is fresh) I personally use a led light that clips to the visor on my ball cap.
Your Next light source is to illuminate the surface of the water. A 12v halogen that you can clip onto the side of your boat and pivot the light source at different angles, and hook to a external 12v power source does nicely here. I personally use and adjustable halogen that I can clip to the railing on my pontoon. Direct the light at a 60 degree angle from boat to water. This will illuminate the surface.
You will need a submerged light source. Of all your night fishing for catfish lighting sources this one is the most important.The underwater fishing lights will attract bait fish by the hundreds, and I am sure you already know the baitfish attract the cats. The reason the underwater fishing lights attract bait fish is because they generate what is called a plankton swirl, of which the baitfish feed from. You will be amazed how fast the big catfish will come and position themselves around the bait fish ball generated for the submerged fishing lights. Underwater fishing light Underwater fishing lights can be purchased in a variety of different sizes and shapes. The one I use is 36″ long about 4″ in diameter.You want to place your underwater fishing light in the centre of the light pattern that you surface light is generating. Anchor your submerged lighting about 12 ” off the bottom, (without an anchor they will float on top of the water).. make sure the light completely submerged under the water. I recommend you use a 5lb weight as an anchor. If possible, anchor the submerged light about 2 to 3 ft from the boat.
I haven't mentioned much about the secondary 12v power source that you will need to have on board your boat to power your underwater fishing light,other secondary light sources, and your bait aerator. “do not use your boats power source” This will drain your battery.”you don't want to get stuck on the lake at night right? If you take a well charged 12v marine battery as your second source it will last through the night.
I recommend you have minimum of three catfish poles pre-rigged and ready to cast out into the water.Rigging tackle at night can be a real pain the butt , and you want to have your poles in the water as much as possible.You won't get away without re-rigging poles, but you want to avoid it as much as possible.
Locating the cat's nightly haunts
Pre-planning your night fishing trip is a must for a successful night. Every body of water is different when it comes to catfish habitat locations, but it has been my experience, that in any body of water the bigger cats roam the shore lines or back waters in search of food at night. I highly recommend you do some research on the body of water you intend to night fish for catfish on. At Minimum Get a topographical map of the area before you attempt your trip. These can be attained at any of the local bait and tackle shops in the area. (I recommend you visit one of these shops to get the local scoop anyway, if you dig deep enough these guys can pin point on the map Where to start fishing. This will save you lots of time.)
Enticing the Cats to your boat
Once you have your water surface lights and your submerged lights set up and ready to go you don't even need to do the next step, you are ready to start fishing. The submerged lighting will get the schools of bait fish coming , but I take it step one step further because if you play on the catfish's extra sensitive sense of smell you can drive the Big cats into a feeding frenzy! Ok You say how?
Well the answer is by introducing “chumming”. Chumming releases a slick of dead fish smells and fish guts that the small bait fish and catfish feed on. I use a simple very in-expense and easy to setup method of chumming. You can also purchase commercial chumming systems that you can set up.First you will need a nylon netted bag that you can close tight. (a good example would the netted bags that you put golf balls in that have a string closure adjustment) This is what I use, works perfect , very inexpensive. Next , get some good size freezer bags, 3 should do for one nights trip.
Next, Purchase about 2 dozen good size chubs or cut up some other fish like small bluegill, and cut them in 1″ to 2″ slices, make sure you do this in a pan that will not drain all the juices. Fill the freezer bags pieces and juice all together, and let them sit outside in the sun all day long. Yes it will stink to high heaven by the end of the day, but that is what you want! Once you you are out on your boat, and at the position you want to fish, Place the freezer bags inside the meshed netted bag,attach a line to the bag with a small weight to get it to the bottom, then take a ice pick or knife and puncture the freezer bag many times to let the juices flow.
Now its time to fish! But before we go there lets re-visit Your catfish rigs. There are many catfish rigs you can use, and they all work in situations they are designed for. When you are fishing at night and you have submerged a lighting setup ,you want get your line about 2 ft away from the light source, approximated on the outer edges of the source's beam.
Since you are going to be fishing only a few feet from the boat make sure your rigs have only enough weight to get your line to the bottom. Slip bobber set ups work well also.
ok I use the single hook rig. Both rigs work fine but I just have preference for the single hook rig. I do use the double hook rig when fishing for other types of fish. I use all heavy duty, open face , and spin cast rod and reels with 30lb test. When you do get a lunker on your line you want the tackle set up to handle the fight. You miss some smaller cats, but it's well worth it when you catch your first 10lb plus catfish.
Baits To Use
Both Channel and Blue catfish will eat just about any small fish like Suckers, small shad, or bluegills both live or dead.When I am set up for a good night of catfish fishing I will use both live and dead cut bait. I will normally set one pole up with a small live gill no more that 3 inches in length. My other poles will be baited with cut bait , normally LARGE suckers 6″ or longer cut in 1″ to 2″ chunks.
Now bait your rigs, get your boat setup and get ready for an exciting night fishing for catfish trip! Once you catch a lunker 10 pounder + You will be hooked for life! So have fun and good luck!