Channel Catfish

Video difference between channel catfish and blue catfish
  • The Apalachicola River offers excellent fishing for a channel, flathead, and blue catfish. Angling for big channel cats is best from April into early July; flathead fishing picks up in April and runs into the summer months. Small catfish can be caught year-round, but the spring and summer months are best. For all species, anglers should try the area from the Jim Woodruff Dam south to Owl Creek. Target deep holes with structure, old creek channels, and the mouths of tributaries. Live bream fished on the bottom well for big flatheads, while stink baits or nightcrawlers (also fished on the bottom) should do the trick for channels. Try fresh cut bait, such as mullet, if pursuing blue catfish.
  • The Choctawhatchee River provides outstanding fishing for channel and flathead catfish. Channel catfishing is best from late May through early July and October into November, if the water remains warm. Anglers catch small catfish year-round. Concentrate on the Alabama line south to West Bay and around Holmes Creek’s mouth and other tributaries. Most of the larger catfish live in the river’s northern portion within deep bends and holes or where large woody debris is present. Try live bream on the bottom for flatheads up to 30 pounds. Stink baits or nightcrawlers fished on the bottom will do the trick for channels.
  • The Escambia River generates quality opportunities for blue, channel, and flathead catfish. Fishing for channel catfish and big flatheads peaks from April through October. The best stretch lies from the Alabama line to the I-10 Bridge. Savvy anglers will fish live bream on the bottom for big flatheads and stink baits or nightcrawlers for channel catfish.
  • The St. Johns River and Dunn’s Creek yield superior bullhead, channel catfish, and white catfish. Prime locations include Dunn’s Creek to Lake Crescent, Murphy’s Creek from the St. Johns River to Dunn’s Creek, and the river from Palatka to Little Lake George. Try the hole on the north side of Buffalo Bluff Bridge, but bring plenty of hooks and weights because there are many snags.
  • The Ochlocknee River offers excellent fishing for bullhead, channel, flathead, and white catfish. The best angling begins in April for flathead catfish and mid-May into early summer for channel cats. Both channels and flatheads will continue to bite until the water turns cold in October or November. Anglers catch small catfish throughout the year, but fishing slows down in colder months. Catfishing is good throughout the entire river but especially in the Talquin tailrace area for whites and flatheads. Try deep rivers bends with structure further downstream for flatheads as well.
  • The Clermont Chain of Lakes offers anglers superb opportunities for the channel and white catfish. Anglers should concentrate on offshore open-water areas, particularly near drop-offs or around bottom structures. Canals and channels may also be attractive to catfish during times of flow. Cut baits or stink baits should work well for both species.
  • Haines Creek, near Leesburg, provides good angling for bullheads, channel catfish, and white catfish. Anglers land most of the larger channel catfish from mid-April through June and October, and November as water temperatures begin to drop. However, small catfish of all species are readily available year-round in flowing water. The creek between Eustis and Griffin lakes offers the best catfishing on the system, particularly below the lock and dam.
  • The Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes affords great bullhead, channel catfish, and white catfish angling opportunities. The peak spawning periods for big channel catfish are between April and June and hungry afterward. Bullheads primarily spawn from October into November but may spawn year-round. Water flow will concentrate catfish and make it easier to locate and catch. The best sites include C-31 (East Lake Canal), C-35 (Southport Canal), C-36 (canal between Lake Cypress and Lake Hatchineha), C-37 (canal between lakes Hatchineha and Kissimmee), below the Kissimmee River structure (S-65), around the mouth of and in Shingle Creek, and the lake proper around fish attractors. Catfish are often found near drop-offs or around the bottom structure in the canals.
  • Southwest Florida Lakes offer many excellent opportunities for channel catfish and bullhead, including lakes 2-5, B and Picnic at Tenoroc Fish Management Area (Polk County); lakes LP2 West, Haul Road Pit, and Pine East at Mosaic Fish Management Area (Polk County); lakes 1 and 3 at Hardee Lakes Park (Hardee County); Lake Manatee (Manatee County); and ponds managed under the Tampa Bay Urban Fishery Program, particularly Dover District Park and Stephen J. Wortham Park.
  • Joe Budd Pond (Gadsden County), a 20-acre impoundment, provides excellent channel catfishing. Fish can live throughout the lake, particularly around the fishing fingers and along the dam. This site is only open to the public on weekends, beginning the first Saturday in July through the Labor Day weekend (including the Labor Day holiday). Fishing worms or nightcrawlers on the bottom will often be effective. Anglers can catch fish from shore or a boat. Gasoline motors are not permitted. Fish are typically nine to 14 inches. A harvest limit of six-channel catfish per person, per day, is strictly enforced.For more detailed information on these catfish hotspots, visit
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Water Quality

The water quality limitations and preferences for both the wide channel fish and farm-raised species are no different. Besides, the lethal oxygen for both is about 1ppm, and reduced growth could occur when the oxygen concentration is less than 4ppm.

In natural waters, channel catfishes are hardly exposed to lethal concentrations of either nitrate or ammonia. Still, they are no more tolerant of high levels of ammonia and nitrite than are those that are farm-raised.


Channel catfishes are very popular and delicious. You can cook them in various ways, such as grilled, roasted, boiled, or fried. One of the main reasons channel catfish are highly sought after by fishermen is their delicious flavor when cooked.


The IGFA all-tackle world record channel catfish weighed 58 pounds. The angler caught it in South Carolina, Santee Cooper Reservoir in 1964