Best Spots to Catch Catfish at Night in Rivers & Lakes

Today we discuss Best Spots to Catch Catfish at Night in Rivers & Lakes. Night catfishing is a thrilling and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. The darkness adds an element of mystery and excitement to the fishing experience, and catfish are known to be more active during the nighttime hours.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best spots to catch catfish at night in rivers and lakes. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner looking to try your hand at night catfishing, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and tips to maximize your success.

Understanding Catfish Behavior at Night:

To effectively catch catfish at night, it’s crucial to understand their behavior during nighttime hours. Catfish are primarily bottom feeders, and they tend to be more active after sunset. They use their heightened senses of smell and touch to locate food in low-light conditions. Additionally, catfish are known to move closer to the shorelines and shallower areas during the night, making them more accessible to anglers.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Spot for Night Catfishing:

Finding the right spot is crucial when it comes to night catfishing success. Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a spot:

Water Depth:

Catfish tend to move into shallower water during the night, so targeting areas with depths between 5 and 15 feet is often productive. This range allows the catfish to hunt for prey while still providing them with cover comfortably.

Structure and Cover:

Look for areas with underwater structures such as submerged logs, fallen trees, rock piles, or underwater ledges. These structures provide hiding spots for catfish and attract smaller baitfish, which in turn attract catfish.


Catfish are often found in areas with moderate currents as they use them to their advantage when hunting for food. Look for areas where the current slows down or changes direction, such as bends in rivers or coves in lakes.

Food Sources:

Identifying potential food sources is essential when choosing a spot for night catfishing. Look for areas with abundant aquatic vegetation, rocky bottoms, or shallow flats where catfish can find their preferred prey, such as insects, crayfish, small fish, or worms.

Best Spots to Catch Catfish at Night in Rivers & Lakes

Best Spots to Catch Catfish at Night in Rivers :

Rivers offer excellent opportunities for night catfishing due to their diverse habitats and natural flow of water. Here are some of the best spots to consider:

1. River Bends:

River bends create eddies and slow-moving water that serve as natural feeding grounds for catfish. Target the outer bends of the river where the water is deeper and slower.

2. Deep Holes:

Deep holes act as resting spots for catfish during the day, but they become active hunting grounds at night. Look for deep holes near structures like fallen trees or rocks.

3. Bridge Pilings:

Bridge pilings provide excellent cover and attract baitfish, making them prime locations for catfish at night. Cast your bait near the pilings and let it drift with the current.

4. Confluences:

Confluences where two rivers meet create turbulence and accumulate debris, which attract baitfish and subsequently catfish. Focus on areas around confluences, particularly where there is deeper water.

Best Spots for Night Catfishing in Lakes:

Lakes offer a variety of habitats for catfish, including shallow flats, drop-offs, and underwater structures. Here are some of the best spots to target when night catfishing in lakes:

1. Shallow Flats:

During the night, catfish move into shallow flats close to shorelines in search of food. Target areas with submerged vegetation or rocky bottoms where catfish can find their prey.

2. Drop-Offs:

Drop-offs are sudden changes in water depth and can be found near underwater ledges or submerged islands. Catfish often patrol these areas looking for food. Cast your bait near the drop-offs and let it sink slowly.

3. Docks and Piers:

Docks and piers provide shade and cover for catfish during the day, making them attractive spots at night. Fish near the posts or pylons using live bait or cut bait.

4. Submerged Timber:

If your chosen lake has submerged timber or fallen trees, you’re in luck! These structures attract baitfish and provide hiding spots for catfish. Cast your bait near these structures and be prepared for action.

Tips and Techniques for Successful Night Catfishing:

Now that you know the best spots for night catfishing, here are some tips and techniques to enhance your chances of success:

1. Use Strong-Smelling Baits:

Catfish have an excellent sense of smell, especially at night when their vision is limited. Opt for baits with strong odors such as chicken liver, stink bait, or prepared commercial baits.

2. Fish Near Bottom Structures:

Catfish often hug the bottom to search for food, so make sure your bait is close to the bottom when fishing at night. Use weights or sinkers to keep your bait on or near the bottom.

3. Be Patient:

Night catfishing requires patience as it may take time for the catfish to locate your bait in the darkness. Give your bait enough time before reeling it in and trying a different spot.

4. Pay Attention to Moon Phases:

Catfish activity can be influenced by moon phases. Many anglers believe that catfish are more active during full moons or when there is ample moonlight. Plan your night fishing trips accordingly.

5. Use Glow-in-the-Dark Tackle:

Using glow-in-the-dark tackle can help attract catfish by providing visibility in low-light conditions. Glow sticks attached to your rod tips or glow-in-the-dark lures can make a significant difference.

Safety Considerations for Night Catfishing:

Night fishing brings its own set of challenges and safety considerations. Here are some essential safety tips to ensure a safe night fishing experience:

  1. Always inform someone about your fishing plans, including the location and estimated return time.
  2. Carry proper lighting equipment such as headlamps or flashlights.
  3. Wear appropriate clothing to stay warm and dry throughout the night.
  4. Be cautious of slippery surfaces near water bodies.
  5. Avoid fishing alone if possible; having a fishing buddy increases safety.
  6. Stay aware of your surroundings and be cautious of potential wildlife encounters.

Essential Gear for Night Catfishing:

Here’s a list of essential gear you’ll need for a successful night catfishing trip:

  • Fishing rods: Choose medium-heavy to heavy rods with sensitive tips to detect bites in low-light conditions.
  • Reels: Opt for reels with strong drag systems capable of handling larger catfish.
  • Line: Use a braided line with a high-pound test to withstand the weight and power of catfish.
  • Hooks: Choose circle hooks or J-hooks depending on your preferred fishing technique.
  • Weights/Sinkers: Carry a variety of weights/sinkers to adjust your bait’s depth based on the fishing spot.
  • Bait: Select strong-smelling baits such as chicken liver, stink bait, or prepared commercial baits.
  • Tackle box: Organize your hooks, weights, extra line, pliers, and other small accessories in a tackle box.
  • Lighting equipment: Carry headlamps, flashlights, or glow sticks to stay visible and navigate safely in the dark.
  • First aid kit: Always have a basic first aid kit handy in case of any minor injuries.

Final Thoughts:

Night catfishing is an exciting and unique experience that challenges your angling skills. Understand catfish behavior, choose the right spots, use effective techniques, and take safety precautions for a successful night of catfishing!

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