Catfishing From The Bank

catfishing from the bank
Catfishing from shore is a great way to spend a summertime day or night

Summertime Catfishing from the Bank

The springtime spawn is over and catfishing from the bank has started to fire up. Catfish are on the prowl in search of their next meal. The water temps have reached 75 degrees. Days are hot and more suited for swimming and sipping on a chilly one, but once the sun goes down and the air becomes bearable it’s time to go on the prowl for your next line stretching adventure. Summertime is a great for catfishing from the bank. Not only is it cooler but the pleasure boats have gone home leaving the lake to the angler as well as the catfish that move into the shallows under cover of darkness. So many people focus on deep water for catfishing in the summer.

By deep I mean 5 to 10 feet of water. You will find fish at these depths but usually, they’re moving to the shorelines to eat your bait along the way. If you want to increase your success move your bait closer to the shoreline. Working depths of 1 to 3 feet of water. This article will focus on Catfishing from the bank for channel catfish.


Stink baits are probably the most common bait used for channel catfish. They work and if it is numbers you are after stink baits work great. I stay away from stink baits. Mainly because they stink and my wife just can’t handle the smell that lingers after a night with that stuff on my hands. I have found that stink baits work, but other baits work just as well and smell way better.


catfishing from the bank
Fresh chicken livers stay on your hook best. Ken McBroom

One such bait that has stood the test of time is chicken livers. Chicken livers can help you fill the cooler with pan size channels with an occasional fatty. One way I’ve found to increase my hookups is to use the hook only setup. I use a single bait holder hook 1/0 or 2/0 and connect it to 10-pound test fluorescent line. No weight is added to the rig and this is key.

You need a spinning reel or a spin cast reel to cast the weightless liver. Letting the fish run without resistance will increase your hook up percentage. Fresh livers will stay on your hook much better than frozen livers. Fresh livers may be hard to find, but they are out there. Once you find a store that sells them you’ll go back for more. Fresh livers are just so much easier to deal with.


In the meantime, as you search for those fresh livers there are ways to help keep livers on your hook. One way is with common sewing thread. Break off a piece of thread about 8 inches long. Lay one end of the thread on the liver. The thread will kind of cling to the liver and allow you to wrap the thread around and around the liver. Make sure to bring the thread over the inside belly of the hook. Try looping the thread over loose strands of the liver to create a nice tight little ball. There are other methods but this one works so well I’ve never tried any other way.

Chicken livers have been the classic catfish bait for many years because it works. The only problem is keeping them on your hook. There is a trick to help keep your liver on your hook longer and even make it harder for those small catfish, I call them bait robbers, from taking your it off your hook.

There are many tricks out there for keeping chicken livers on your hook. These include putting them in pantyhose or using a spring on a treble hook. Here is a simple, quick way to keep your chicken livers on the hook, so you can catch more catfish. Sewing thread is the answer to all your liver losing woes. The most efficient way, I have found, to keep livers on your hook.

The one thing that makes this trick work better is fresh livers. There are stores that sell fresh chicken livers so call around. Previously frozen livers will work but fresh livers are much more solid and I think actually attract catfish better. Some say to let it sit in the sun until they turn green or just plain rot. Not only does this turn the youngsters off of the fishing but I feel that fresh livers actually work better.

The sewing thread trick is nothing fancy and requires no knots. You just lay the tag end of a spool of thread on the liver and wrap. The thread sticks to the liver and allows you to wrap the thread around the liver and hook. Make sure you are careful with the first couple wraps so the thread stays put then make about eight or ten wraps and break the thread. That’s it your liver is nicely secured to your hook just.


Use a black light with the fluorescent line to detect a bite at night. Detecting a bite is not difficult with this setup. I promise. With just the resistance of the line, the channel catfish will hang on longer and swallowing the liver. Use the best low-cost hook you can find. Bring a bunch so you can just cut the line and leave the hook inside, just be careful when you clean them. Leaving the hook comes in handy because when the bite is on you don’t want to take the time to dig a swallowed hook from a catfish’s gullet.


This is a great time to get the kids involved in catching your bait. It provides them with all day fun and you an endless supply of bait. They get to keep the bluegills in a bucket, instant entertainment, and if you get too many just start teaching them catch and release and explain to them about only keeping what we need. Great fun, great lessons and great memories.

If it is a larger channel catfish you are after then fresh fish is the go-to bait. When a channel catfish reaches more than a couple pounds it begins to seek food a little higher in protein. Where you might find dozens of smaller channel catfish, like shallow flats and mud shores, you may find it void of any good size catfish. This is because, while still not a true predator the larger channel catfish become a loner. More of a predator than smaller channel cats.

Fresh bluegill makes great bait for all species of catfish. Shad are usually abundant and the catfish’s primary prey. A bluegill is a delicacy and seems to really do well. When you think of cut-bait you normally think of the whole fish cut into chunks. This is the easiest way to prepare cut-bait but it’s messy and I like to keep everything as clean as possible so I do a little extra work in preparing my bluegill cut-bait.

Live bluegills, where legal, and live shad work great. I usually just fillet the bluegill and shad. Scaling the bluegills before filleting allows more smell into the water and is much more tender without the scales. This allows for a better hook set.


Look for some structure for the bigger channel catfish, like big boulders or large brush piles or fallen trees. Toss your fresh meat just outside this structure. They will come out and get it but don’t make them travel too far just in case it don’t want to. Move the bait around the structure. I usually soak my bait 5 to 10 minutes before moving it, sometimes only a few feet. After about 15 to 30 minutes I will look for another spot. I am looking for the feeders and a hungry channel catfish would have already found your bait in that amount of time.

When targeting larger channel catfish from the bank you will want to go with some larger tackle. I start with a baitcasting rig spooled with at least 20 pound test line on a Med. Heavy to Heavy rod. You need the power to move the fish away from the thick brush or sharp rocks. Anyone who has caught a channel catfish larger than three pounds knows how hard these fish can fight. When they start the channel cat roll you best have heavy gear.


I use an egg sinker rig above and leave slack in my line so I can see the fish running with the line. You seldom have to worry about the fish coming toward you if you are fishing heavy cover during the day. The channel catfish is going to head back to that cover. So be ready and set the hook ready to horse the fish away from the heavy cover. Once the channel catfish is away from the cover then you can take it easy and play it in.

I hope this article has given you a few ideas for catfishing from the bank this summer. I know these techniques have helped me over the years and should do the same for you. Keep experimenting and you will find some tricks of your own that will help you enjoy some great outings with the family in pursuit of a great fish that provides fun as well as some delicious table fare as well.

Catfishing From Shore

Catfish are plentiful and delicious making them a prime target for bank anglers that want to add some meat to the freezer and have a bunch of fun doing it. There are a couple reasons that catfish are a great choice from the bank. First there are a lot of them and they tend to occupy nearly every acre of a given body of water making it much easier to be successful in any given location. Catfish tend to roam in search of food and rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate it from great distances making it possible to attract them to your location. This sense of smell is why catfish are the most sought after species for die hard bank anglers. Catfish can be easy to catch and with the right baits you can greatly improve the numbers you are able to catch from. catfishing from bank. Here are a few great catfish baits for the budget minded angler that is catfishing from the bank.


As a kid I can remember cutting a few forked sticks for our rod holders when we fished for catfish from the bank. The stick was jammed in the ground, fork up to hold the rod. Many rod and reels were lost in those days and provided for great stories around the campfire each year that we got together when the catfish were prowling the shallows.

Today rod holders for catfishing from the bank, like so many other fishing products on the market, has evolved into some great rod holders. From simple to elaborate there is a system made for you.


Keeping it simple is a great way to get young people involved in the outdoors. Remember they are the future of outdoor recreation and a vital part of keeping it alive and growing. You can see how much enjoyment kids have catching bluegills. Introducing kids to catfishing from the bank will keep that memory in their minds and thinking about how much fun it was. Kids will get tuckered out catching bait all day and are usually asleep by the time the evening catfish bite rolls around. For that die hard youngster hanging in there let them reel in a fish, or net one, they will be hooked on catfishing from the bank forever.  



About Ken McBroom 215 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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