There are several species of catfish that may be caught in Florida's waters. Among them are blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish and white catfish. Yellow bullheads, walking catfish and brown bullhead are also present. Although I like fishing for all species of cats, the blues are one of my favorites. They are presently considered to be the largest of its species in the United States. The blues also put up one valiant fight when hooked. Here's some of what you need to know in order to catch one:
Where to Look
The blues are bottom dwelling fish that are often found in deep, major tributaries that feature beds comprised of rock, sand or gravel. I like looking for them in fast moving water around dams, submerged timber, undercuts and deep holes. You can also find them throughout the water column in open water.
In my experience, some of the best places to catch blue catfish in Florida are the Apalachicola River, the Escambia River and the Choctawhatchee River. You can also catch blue catfish in Georgia along the Coosa River, Lake Andrew, Lake Sinclair, the Chattahoochee River and Lake Walter F. George.
When to Look
Although you can fish for blues during the day, I have found that they tend to feed more aggressively at night when water temperatures are in the 75 to 85 degree Fahrenheit range. I should also mention that they are thought to spawn at night when water temperatures exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time.
Bait and Tackle Suggestions
In my opinion, cut bait and live bait works the best for catching blue catfish. Fishing with mullet, gizzard shad, mussels, frogs and crayfish often proves to be the most productive. Suckers, sunfish, skipjack herring and carp will work too. Of course you could opt to use stink baits as well, although I wouldn't recommend it. Fishing with chicken livers sometimes produces positive results. I would also suggest that you avoid using artificial baits. In my experience, they just don't seem to work too well with big blues.
When it comes to tackle, medium-heavy to heavy rods, heavy line, heavy sinkers and jug hooks tend to work the best. Once you do hook a blue catfish, be prepared for a fight. The beasts do not give in easily.
Cleaning and Cooking Tips
In my experience, blue catfish tastes wonderful providing that it has been cleaned and prepared properly. When cleaning the fish, you'll want to make sure that you remove the red blood line. Otherwise, it is apt to spoil the taste of your dish. If you decide to fry the fish, try and cut the flesh into thin fillets. In my opinion, the fillets tend to fry better that way.
Killeen Gonzalez enjoys fishing with her family. She has also traveled extensively.
More from this contributor:
- Nature & Environment
- flathead catfish
- blue catfish