Do Catfish Bite More at Night?

Is catfishing better at night? Catfishing has long been proclaimed to be “better at night”, this is not always the case. Catfish are active at all times of the day. Catfishing can be better in the day, night, or morning. It all depends on the current weather and conditions.



The Best Time to Catch Catfish at Night


The best time to catch catfish at nighttime is generally in the warmer months. Although catfish can be caught in the heat of the day, it is generally better for you the angler to fish at night, rather than the heat of the day. 

A 21lb Blue Catfish caught at night!

Fishing at night time really has to do with the angler more than the fish. The bite can be great at any time of the day. Sometimes when the heat is brutal during the day, and the fish are not active, you can catch them in the night time.

This is often the time they come out to feed, when the temperatures are cooler. So on those brutally 100+ days, the fishing just may be a bit better in the hours of darkness.

Just remember that Catfish do not feed more at night. Catfish feed more when they are hungry. Catfish generally follow the bait, so if the bait happens to be around more at night, they will be feeding.

Does the Full Moon Affect the Catfish Bite?

The short answer is no. There is no scientific evidence to prove catfish feed more or less during a full moon. People will swear up and down either way though.

I have often heard a lot that the first 3 days before a full moon, and the 3 days after are prime times. Others will say differently, but it really all depends on your body of water, temperature, depth, etc…

The consensus before that I actually heard of was, the moon provides light for catfish to hunt at night thus, catfish feed more when the moon is full. I should have known about this from the start.

Catfish feed off of smell and taste much more than they do sight. The barbells and whiskers of a catfish are very sensitive at picking up any kind of food source in the water.

Their eyes should not be taken lightly though, catfish do have pretty good vision. Especially the channel catfish, have you seen how big those eyes are?

Sure, the moon can have a positive effect on the bite, but it can also have a negative effect. It is up in the air as to if it really bad or good for the bite. I personally have not noticed any pattern from fishing before or after a full moon. In freshwater that is.

How Deep Should You Fish at Night?

Typically, catfish will be a bit shallower in the night time during hot days. If they are largely inactive during the hot day, they can be more active and seeking out food in the hours of darkness.

So given that, on the hot, sweltering days of the summer, you typically want to fish shallower at night. However, do not only limit yourself to shallow waters when night fishing.

I usually do a test with my baits, one shallow, one middle, and one deep. This helps to ensure a good spread of water depths to see if you can locate the catfish. Do not be surprised if you are catching fish in all 3 depths.

Just because one catfish in feeding shallow does not mean all of them are.

What is the Best Catfish Bait at Night?

The best catfish bait at night is whatever is plentiful in your body of water. If you have a large population of shad schooling at night, use shad. If you see panfish lined on the banks of your river, use panfish.

Matching the hatch is the best way to really narrow down on the bait you should be using. I often bring a small rod with me with a worm to see what baitfish I can catch. This helps you probe your fishing spot, and explore the species that are out there. From there you can even just use what you catch, live or dead.

What Determines When Catfish Bite?

There are a variety of factors that determine when catfish bite. Anything ranging from outside temperature, water temperature, barometric pressure, etc…

Water temperature needs to be a comfortable temp for catfish to be on the move. Usually once the water temp dips below 50 degrees fish start to slow down, and stop feeding. Above 80 degrees is when the fish can become shut off and stop feeding.

Find that sweet spot right in the middle. I typically find my best bite after a hard rain in the summer time. That is just what works best for my river.

These are not set in stone temps, as every body of water is different. There are so many factors playing a role at once when figuring out a time to catch catfish. You can learn and predict as much you want, but it will all come down to learning your body of water.

For barometric pressure, it can go either way. I have caught fish in high, falling, and even low pressure systems. Some people swear by high pressure, saying it is the best for cat fishing, but I have not seen this myself.

It would make sense for the fishing to be good, due to the high pressure; the swim bladder of the fish would not be affected as severely as low pressure. In low pressure, the fish have to inflate their air bladders to make up for a lack of pressure, which can cause them to stop biting.

I personally do not pay too much attention to this here, pressure changes all the time, and there are more important factors you need to pay attention to while cat fishing.  

Do Not Be Afraid to Move

Day or night, you have to be willing to move to find fish. In the summer months, often times if you don’t find fish activity within 20-30 minutes it is a solid bet to move spots.

If fish are around, they are going to bite relatively quickly during this time of year. Don’t get complacent just because it is night time. It is always important to maximize your chances of catching fish.

Gear up with your headlamp, flashlight, and all your equipment, and take a walk down the bank. Just because you can not see in the dark, does not mean the catfish can’t.

So just to recap, catfish do not bite more at night. They bite more when food is available, and when they are hungry. I know you all have maybe heard this a lot, but catfish are just like us. When we are hungry, we eat, when we are too cold, we don’t go out much, and vice versa when it is hot.

Be sure to stay tuned into my Youtube Channel! I post a few times a week showing my fishing adventures!

Also note I do livestream a lot! So if you want to see some nightime catfishing in action, check it out.

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