Catfishing from a kayak...

When I was a kid growing up on the Potomac River I used to spend my entire summer fishing for catfish from the banks. Pretty much just threw out some hooks with chicken livers or clam snouts and waited for the pole to bend over.

Now I live on Lake Wylie (a largish lake) here in NC/SC border and I’m wondering if I can fish for catfish from my kayak? I always thought that catfish come to the bait because they smell it, so would drifting and fishing smelly bait on the bottom even work? Or would it be better to anchor up and at least keep the bait in the same vicinity on the bottom? Also, what is the maximum depth I should fish (I’m not sure how deep the lake is…)

Be interested to hear what techniques or if it is even worth it.


Yes you can… I caught a nice 23"
Channel Cat Saturday at Lake Murray…

Simply find drop offs from flats to old creek beds and drift over them with a chunk of herring or shad on a 4/0 circle hook and enough weight to bounce bottom.

You can use live herring or shad too… Of little bream.

Anchoring over a spot and using chicken liver/cutbait/clamnecks, etc works fine too, but I have found covering more water while drifting works best.


Add some tube jigs in the appropriate colors for you area to the list in the above post. Add an enticer such as a small chunk of worm, shrimp or cut bait. Worm works really well. Cast and slowly jig it back along the bottom.

There’s no doubt that cats …

– Last Updated: Oct-16-08 3:23 PM EST –

........ home in on fresh/cut bait scents .

Not sure what the ppm is that they can detect , but it has to be incredably low in the ratio .

I think the river offering a current , makes a trail of that scent and they will follow it to it's source (the hook) .

But you know , those river cats (channel cats) will readily take almost any bass offering as well ... at least the ones up to about 8 lbs. .

I've not spent much time (but some) , anchored , with a still bottom rig and cut bait fishing for cats on non-moving waters ... but at the least , I would drop a weighted mother load of bait in some form of wire cage (so they don't tear it to shreds) , to the bottom on a thin rope ... then keep droping your hooked bait down all around near the mother load ... it also helps to shake up the mother load by picking it up a couple/few feet and droping it back down "often" .

Catfish are very competitive amongst themselves and they will come in droves to battle for the fixed mother load ... "if they are around and if they find it" .

ed: ... a small plastic bucket w/lid , and 1" holes bored "all over" it can also surfice for the cage .

Ever smelt a roadside pit beef barbicue going on ?? ... I think the cats like theirs raw though ..

Sure you can
I caught a 23" channel cat on a Jack’s Worm presented on a 3/16" jig this summer in the New River. My buddy caught a 16" smallmouth on the same bait at the same time. Pretty versatile bait, I’d say. This was in a big pool section of the river with deep channels - maybe about 8’ deep at the time I was fishing.

I’ve taken catfish from lakes as well, but smallish ones. The best catfish I’ve caught were just as you describe.

Catfish tend to bite better at night or on overcast days. They tend towards nocturnal habits. I’ve heard it’s because the light hurts their eyes, and I’ve also heard it’s because darkness gives them more ambush opportunities. I expect there’s some truth in each statement.

One of the fun ways to catch cats is to anchor up near a deep channel and toss live or cut bait in. I’m not a big fan of stink-baits, mostly because they’re stinky rather than because they don’t catch fish because they do that well. The stinkiest I get for cats is chicken liver. I prefer to use it frozen, and usually wrap it in a little piece of pantyhose to keep it on the hook better. I use a big canoe for this for comfort purposes, but also because I can be more confident setting a hook and fighting a strong fish while using an anchor.

The campfire riverside sitting-on-a-cooler swapping stories or songs with friends style of catfishing is still wonderfully acceptable.

  • Big D

i have caught 87 Channel Cats this year from my kayak.

I use Gulp worms and Gulp minnows, small float, set at 3 to 5 feet, and no weight. Cast to bank, and let bait flutter down.