In lakes, catfish can be harder to find. In spring, they can be located shallow as they move in to spawn. Once the water gets warmer, you’re going to have to fish deeper to find these fish. You can find catfish in all different areas throughout the summer on lakes. They can be located around points, humps, drop-offs or just suspended in the middle of lake. Using a fish finder will help you locate fish. The suspended fish will eat and often times, there are lots of catfish together in open water. When you locate the fish on the fish finder, drop your baits down because they will be very catchable. Dams are also good places to fish on lakes. Many catfish will hang out around dams from the spring through the fall.
On the Flats
Catfish can be found all over the shallow flats during the late spring and early summer when water temperatures warm into the mid-60s to mid-70s. A flat that has some type of cover such as timber & brush, laydowns, hollow logs or rocks will usually hold more fish than a flat that doesn’t have any cover. Catfish will move into the shallows during the pre-spawn and these fish can be very aggressive. Fishing is usually very good up to the spawn and then very good again during the post-spawn. Catfish will go much deeper during the summer, but at night, good numbers of catfish will come onto these shallow water flats again to feed.
Drop-offs will hold lots of catfish during the summer. Catfish may be found anywhere from 15 to 50 feet deep depending on the species. A good drop-off will have some type of cover such as wood, rock or weeds and quick access to shallow and deep water. Catfish will often be found in much deeper water during the day and then shallower at night. Catfish will also suspend above the thermocline along these drop-offs in the summer. Whether you are fishing on the bottom or suspended, all of the typical catfish baits will work.
Catfish can be found in and around the weeds in many lakes and ponds. Fishermen usually do not target catfish in these areas because it is much harder to keep your bait on the bottom without getting covered in weeds. While these weedy areas may not always be the best places to target catfish, in some ponds, you don’t have many other options. Catfish will move onto weed lines and into the thick weeds to rest. You can catch them by using a carolina rig and a floating jig if your bait isn’t too heavy for the jig. You can use nightcrawlers and live shiners with this rig and the jig should float just fine. If you set the weight a few feet above the jig, this should be enough to keep your bait out of the weeds just off the bottom. Other anglers will use slip bobbers. These will work fine as long as you get your bait down near the bottom. You want to be as close to the bottom without getting hung up in the weeds.
Catfish can be found near rocks, so if you have a nice stretch of rock on a shoreline, it is worth fishing for catfish. The rocks hold crayfish and all types of bait fish, so catfish will likely move into the area as well to find an easy meal.
Catfish love wood. Large brush piles, logjams, single trees and laydowns are great places to fish for catfish, especially in rivers. Some of the bigger catfish will actually rest in hollowed-out trees that sit on the bottom. These fish are much harder to catch with traditional fishing tackle, but some anglers do pursue these giants by noodling (this means fishing for catfish with your bare hands).
Dams & Spillways
Dams and spillways are always good places to fish for catfish. Some anglers prefer to fish below the dams while others insist that fishing is better above the dams. Whatever your preference, you can definitely catch plenty of catfish above and below the dams. We do believe that you will get better results if you consistently fish below the dams, especially for bigger catfish.
Below the dams, current breaks will usually hold some catfish. These current breaks give catfish a chance to rest out of the current but still be close enough to the current to grab an easy meal that may get washed downstream. You can find channel catfish, flathead catfish and blue catfish near the dams and spillways.
Points will hold catfish throughout the year. The shallower spots will hold catfish during the spring and fall and at night during the summer. The points that have some deep water nearby are great spots for catching catfish in the summer. The points that have weeds, wood or rock will usually hold more fish than the points that don’t have any cover. In rivers, a point will form a nice current break downstream and catfish will use these current breaks as a place to rest and ambush bait fish.