There are thousands of lakes and rivers in the U.S. that produce catfish in extraordinary numbers and sizes. Creating a list of the best catfish states is like trying to pick America’s best restaurants. It’s darn near impossible, and many excellent places would surely be left out.
We’re going to give it a try, nevertheless. And we’re not just going to pick those states where you can catch lots of catfish. Most states fit that mold. We’re going to choose the 12 best states for catching trophy catfish—heavyweight blues, channel cats and flatheads that can break rods, fry drags and snap fishing line like sewing thread. If you play your cards right—if you use the right tackle and bait in the right spot at the right time—the whiskered warriors you catch in the waters of these states could very easily weigh 30 to 100 pounds…or more.
Some states serve up superb fishing for monster channel cats—sleek, muscular giants with heads the size of boulders. Others are best known for producing gigantic blue catfish, the biggest members of North America’s catfish clan, which are known to exceed 5 feet and 200 pounds! Still others are flathead producers, churning out exceptional numbers of these beastly behemoths, some of which have mouths big enough to swallow basketballs. The very best states provide exceptional fishing for all three species.
All that’s left for you to do is pick a hotspot, make a plan, get there and go catfishing. Monster catfish await you. May luck be on your side.
- Alabama is currently one of the hottest states for trophy catfish, particularly monster blues, many of which are being caught in lakes Wheeler, Wilson and Pickwick on the Tennessee River. Guides like Mike Mitchell (right) of Southern Cats Guide Service, are helping clients catch numerous 80-pound-plus fish, like this 102-pounder landed by Joe Ludtke (left) in 2010.
About the Author
With a resumé listing more than 3,800 magazine, newspaper and website articles about fishing, hunting, wildlife and conservation, Keith “Catfish” Sutton of Alexander, Ark., has established a reputation as one of the country’s best-known outdoor writers. In 2012, he was enshrined in the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Communicator. The 12 books he’s written are available through his website.