Giant Catfish: Best Places For A Trophy Catch

Giant Catfish: Best Places For A Trophy Catch
Shutterstock image of channel catfish

Game & Fish contributor Keith Sutton is affectionately nicknamed "Catfish" for the informative articles he's written about catfish fishing, especially giant catfish, which always draws a lot of attention to out website. Click here for more G&F articles by Sutton

Shutterstock image of channel catfish


As more and more anglers discover the excitement of battling our country's biggest freshwater sportfish, fishing for monster catfish continues growing in popularity nationwide.



Fortunately, we have no lack of blue-ribbon whiskerfish waters in which to pursue these drag-burning behemoths.

  •  Catfish Anglers: Find Even More Info by clicking here

Rivers and lakes throughout the United States offer opportunities for catching blue cats and flatheads the size of young calves, and abundant channel cats that often weigh 20 pounds or more.


If you're looking for place to try for a big one yourself, consider the seven hotspots described in the paragraphs that follow — waters that rank high on the list of America's best lakes and rivers for trophy catfish.

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

Lake Arthur, Pennsylvania

Waters in northeastern states usually don't draw much attention from catfish fans. But Lake Arthur in Pennsylvania is an exception. Located north of Pittsburgh in Moraine State Park, this 3,225-acre reservoir produces tons of trophy channel cats each year, including numerous fish in the 10- to 20-pound range. During one recent year, anglers fishing here entered 59 channel cats over 10 pounds in the state's Master Angler Program. More await visiting anglers. Information: Moraine State Park.

Catfish stories draw year-round interest from G&F readers. (File photo)

Lake Conway, Arkansas

Few lakes produce as many pole-bending flatheads as Arkansas' Lake Conway. This 6,700-acre Arkansas Game & Fish Commission impoundment just west of Little Rock is heavily timbered throughout and rich in shad and sunfish, making it ideal for producing pot-bellied 30- to 80-pounders. Serious local cat men believe that 100-pounders swim here, but one that size would be hard to extract from the lake's dense timber. Hotspots include the Adams Lake, Greens Lake, Gold Lake, Goose Pond and Holt's Lake areas. Information: Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.

Posts about big catfish record are well-liked by readers.

Mississippi River, Illinois to Louisiana

From Alton, Illinois in the north to its confluence with the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana, the Mississippi River offers action-packed fishing for giant cats equal to that found anywhere on this continent. Anglers can shoot for a trophy-cat trifecta here, targeting blues that could exceed 120 pounds, abundant flatheads that run 30 to 80, and channel cats that often exceed 10. Among the massive whiskerfish landed in the Father of Waters are a 116-3/4-pound world-record blue at West Memphis, Arkansas; a 124-pound world-record blue at Alton, Illinois; a 114-pound Louisiana record blue near Lake Providence and a 77.7-pound Tennessee state-record flathead landed downstream from Memphis. Information: Experience the Mississippi River.

Stories on catfish baits, records

Pomona Lake, Kansas

Catfishermen catch scores of giant flatheads in Kansas' Pomona Lake each year, monsters ranging from 40 to 80 pounds. Pomona produced two state records — an 87.5-pounder in 1990 and a 90-pound record taken in 1993. One local angler has taken 25 flatheads here on trotlines or limblines, all of which exceeded the minimum qualifying weight (50 pounds) for earning a Kansas Master Angler Award. Despite its productivity, this 4,000-acre lake 25 miles south of Topeka remains relatively unknown outside a circle of local cat fans. Information: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

giant catfish

Red River, North Dakota

You won't find a better trophy channel-cat hotspot than that portion of the Red River of the North flowing through North Dakota. Whoppers abound in the stretch from Fargo, North Dakota to the U.S./Canadian border and beyond. Hookups with 10- to 25-pounders are common, and much larger channel cats surface occasionally. A June/July hotspot for numbers is the dam at Drayton, where cats stop during upstream migrations. Locals say the best fishing for the river's 30-pound-plus giants is in September. Information: North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

https://youtu.be/AWCvsZCgXJ8

Santee-Cooper Lakes, South Carolina

On April 1 this year, Paula Haney of Anderson, SC reeled in a 113.8-pound state-record blue cat on Lake Moultrie, one of the Palmetto State's famed Santee-Cooper lakes. Moultrie and its sister lake, Marion, have been churning out monster blues since the species was first stocked more than 50 years ago , including a 136-pound trotline-caught fish in 2012, and a 109-1/4-pound former world-record in 1991. Monster flatheads swim here, too — some exceeding 70 pounds. Channel cats exceeding 15 pounds are fairly common, and the world-record 58-pounder was pulled from Moultrie in 1964, leading to speculation there may still be monsters waiting to be caught. Information: Santee Cooper Country.

G&F Camera Corner image (reader submitted)

Wheeler Lake, Alabama

In recent years, Wheeler Lake, a 67,100-acre Tennessee River impoundment in north-central Alabama, has been the country's hottest blue-cat lake, producing several fish around 100 pounds and scores exceeding 70. Fishing is good year-round, but winter fishing excels, as evidenced by the clients of guide Mike Mitchell who caught a 98-pounder in January 2008 and a whopping 102-pounder in February 2010. A former all-tackle world-record blue (111 pounds) also was caught in Wheeler, but in summer — July 1996. The lake also produced a 95-pounder in March 2011 and 101-pounder in November 2009. Any trip here could produce the fish of a lifetime. Information: Outdoor Alabama.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Bass

MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

Walleye

How to Fish Bottom Bouncers for Walleye

Mark Sak - May 23, 2019

While misunderstood by some, fishing bottom bouncers can be a very productive technique for...

Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Mustad's Inkvader Octopus Live Jig

From big fish to small, just about any saltwater game fish out there will love the new Mustad Inkvader Octopus Live Jig that Mustad's Russ Whisler shows to OSG's Lynn Burkhead.

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Glenn Walker talks us through the soy-based technology that makes Lure Lock cases spill-proof and scent-proof. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Catfish

Catfish Night & Day: How to Catch 'Em Both Ways

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

Catfish tend to be found in shallower water at night, but they are still active during the...

Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

See More Stories

More Catfish

Fishing

Iowa Catfish Best Bets 2019

Dan Anderson

Get after big cats this year on some of Iowa's best old and new hotspots.

Fishing

Oklahoma Catfish Best Bets 2019

Lynn Burkhead

From channel and blues to flatheads and bullheads, catfish are a prime summer target for...

Records

Catching Giant Flathead Catfish Runs in Family

G&F Online Staff - July 04, 2019

Florida agency certifies new state-record flathead catfish.

See More Catfish

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×