Skip to main content

Mississippi-Louisiana Catfish Best Bets 2019

Here are some top places to hunt for channel and blue catfish this summer in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Mississippi-Louisiana Catfish Best Bets 2019

Throughout both Mississippi and Louisiana, big river systems tend to produce big catfish. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

Catfish always seem to take third place in our part of the world. Bass and crappie are the region’s number one and two freshwater species, while specks and reds steal the spotlight on the saltwater side as well.

Nevertheless, our three humble catfish species, with their only-a-mother-could-love-looks, are habitat generalists and are waiting in nearly all of our region’s lakes, ponds, rivers, and bayous.

Catfish themselves also have a lot to offer anglers. They get big, for one thing, so trophy-fishing for catfish is a growing trend. But of course, small blue catfish and channel cats give anglers a chance at fast action and the makings of a tasty dinner.

Because of the widespread distribution of catfish, anglers have many places in both Louisiana and Mississippi to catch these fish. Because the habitat in these two states favors catfish, going after them is sure to provide hours of enjoyment. Traditional rod-n-reel action can be supplemented with traps and slats, hand grabbing, trot lines and yo-yos as well as noodle/jug fishing. Ample catch limits and year-around action are almost as attractive as the succulent fillets that catfish provide for fish fries.

The two most popular catfish are channels and blues. The channel catfish has a wide geographic distribution and is ease to catch, making it the most commonly sought-after catfish. They live in most rivers and lakes and are widespread in their range throughout the U.S.


Blue cats are found throughout the Mississippi River drainage basin. Like channels, they have very smooth skin and spines hidden within their pectoral and dorsal fins. Blue cats prefer deep pools with structure, where they are often caught on live or dead bait fished on the bottom. Let’s take a look at some of the best places in Mississippi and Louisiana where channels and blues are ripe for the taking.


MISSISSIPPI

The Magnolia State shares its official name with the largest catfish-producing river in North America, but the Mississippi River represents just one of the many places anglers can land tasty cats in this state.

In the northeast region of Mississippi, Biologist Trevor Knight points to two places on the map: Pickwick Lake and the River Section of the Tennessee-Tombigbee (Tenn-Tom) waterway, which includes Aberdeen, Columbus, and Aliceville Lakes.

“Pickwick is a very popular catfish lake for [summer] channel, blue, as well as flathead catfish” said Knight. Pickwick is the reservoir created by the Pickwick Dam. “The most popular areas on the Mississippi side of Pickwick are in the fingers created by Indian Creek and Yellow Creek. Near Indian Creek, anglers have lots of luck dropping bait with rod n reel around the bluffs or jug fishing in the creek channel.”

When jug fishing, anglers tie weighted, baited lines to emptied milk jugs (or other suitable floating “jugs” with a handle) and toss the floating apparatus upstream. The armada floats downstream and is harvested later in the day, by which time, hopefully, it is loaded with cats.


According to the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks website, anglers with a recreational fishing license are allowed up to 100 hooks, yo-yos, jugs, or trotlines. Within these lakes most anglers will fish the old channel swings in the backwaters or they will fish around the locks.

Although many channel catfish anglers have traditionally used dip baits, nightcrawlers, chicken livers and “stink” baits of various kinds, channel catfish will take fresh cutbait almost as readily as blue catfish.

The river sections of the Tenn-Tom waterway are also very popular and produce a good harvest of channels and blues. The Tenn-Tom tends to have bigger cats than Pickwick.

Biologist Keith Meals ranks Arkabutla and Grenada as the best catfish fisheries in his district. These lakes are primarily flood-control reservoirs; however, one of the by-products of their construction is the creation of prime habitat for channels and blues.


“Both lakes are relatively turbid,” said Meals, “but the catfish don’t seem to mind.”

Hand grabbing is a very popular method for catching cats during the month of June and can result in landing some big fish. “It is not uncommon for anglers using the grabbing method to land 30-pounders, at least for the select cadre of fishermen who have perfected the art,” Meals said.

Blues and channels are more commonly caught using traditional baits like liver and cut shad though less traditional fare is offered.

“We see folks use chicken marinated in cherry-flavored Koolaid. The fish seem to enjoy the break from their regular food items,” Meals said.

Since catfish are not regulated as a game fish, in most waters there is no limit to the number of channels, blues, or flats you can catch in Mississippi. There is one important exception to this general rule, however: in waters that are bordered by Mississippi and another state that does impose limits on catfish, there are “shared” limits.

Anglers in the middle of the State should focus their efforts on Ross Barnett Reservoir as well as the Pearl River and the Black River, according to Ryan Jones. “There are lots of catfish in Ross Barnett. Most anglers are able to land a stringer of channel cats using tried-and-true baits.”

There are also good numbers of cats in the spillway, though the rules and regulations are a bit different in that section. There are bank fishing options around the lake in the form of piers and parks.

Anglers can launch boats from a number of public launches as well. Some of the most popular are launches on the south end of the lake include Rankin landing and Main Harbor Landing. The MDWFP maintains an interactive map of launch location.

LOUISIANA

Because they are ready to be caught and they are plentiful in water bodies north to south, catfish provide Bayou state anglers with a bunch of ptions for catching catfish. The secret is out on most of the popular catfish lakes and rivers. Louisiana catfish have an extended spawning season that runs into July.

The Red River is prime cat country. The Red River runs a south-easterly course from the northwestern corner of the state towards swampy lowlands in Concordia and Avoyelles Parishes after passing through Alexandria and Pineville. Here the Red merges with the Black River as well as outflow from the Mississippi River.

This mixed water flows into the Atchafalaya River near Simmesport. Five locks and dams located between Shreveport and Marksville have tamed the once quickly flowing river, to the benefit of anglers and other recreational users.

Along the Red, bank angling is very common among fishermen. In addition to traditional rod-n-reel efforts, methods such as jug fishing and tightlining are common. Cutbait, liver, and nightcrawlers are commonly used in the deeper holes in the river, which are often located behind jetties or on the outside of the bends.

Although catfish are far more active predators than many anglers give them credit for, like all predator fish in moving water, blues and channel catfish tend to position themselves in a current break near a seam with faster water. They expend as little energy as possible while getting the best look at baitfish being swept along in the current.

Multiple boat launches are found along the river and are mapped on the LDWF website. All outdoor enthusiasts in Louisiana should become familiar with the LDWF website’s Outdoor Explorer tool. This interactive map shows boat launches among other important geospatial data.

On the east side of the state, the Ouachita River is another excellent catfish fishery. June is an ideal time for catfishing on the Ouachita River. At this time of year, the water level is normally falling following the spring floods. Falling water concentrates bait and that concentrates the catfish. Local anglers know this, and Ouachita River has become one of the most popular rivers for catfishing in Northeast Louisiana.

Prime catfishing can be found along the river anywhere from its origins at the Arkansas line to its confluence with the Tensas River. Popular catfishing methods on the Ouachita include rod-n-reel, though other methods include tightlining and trotlining provide the main ingredients for many a fish fry. Noodling is also common. This technique utilizes pool noodles as floats (similar to jug fishing). Baited floats are released then picked up later downstream. Areas along the river that see less fishing pressure have been known to provide nearly non-stop bites from blues and channels.

Lac des Allemands is considered by many the premier catfish destination in the southern part of the state. The lake is home to blues and channels and the small community of Des Allemands along the west bank. The lake is relatively shallow, with its deepest point being roughly 10 feet. The 12,000-acre lake is popular among the local fishermen. All methods of angling, including trotlines and yo-yos, are legal on the lake. Cutbait and worms are common bait for catfish. Anglers are wise to keep a bass pole rigged and ready to grab.

Poverty Point Lake is the centerpiece of Poverty Point State Park. This new impoundment found in the fertile delta has been growing huge crappie and bass over its young life (it was impounded back in 2001 and opened to the public in 2003). The catfish are growing too. Anglers looking for numbers and 2-pound fillet-sized cats should consider dropping a line in Poverty Point. The lake can be only be fished with rod and reel. Some fish are still spawning which is good news for bank anglers. At Poverty Point, fisherman have access to a fishing pier located at the north State Park facility, adjacent to boat ramp and marina. In addition, bank is fishing allowed at both the north and south state park facilities.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

What

What's New with Abu Garcia Veritas Rods?

There are big changes to Abu Garcia's popular Veritas series of rods. Andrew Wheeler highlights the new features with In-Fisherman's Doug Stange as part of our 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

Get on Board: Species for Beginner Anglers

Get on Board: Species for Beginner Anglers

With so many people turning to fishing as a way to escape the stress and challenges that have arisen in recent months, we've teamed up with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the National Marine Manufacturers Association to explore some of the freshwater fish species you can target if you're just getting on board with fishing. #TheWaterIsOpen #GetOnBoard

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Pro angler Cody Meyer calls Daiwa's J-Fluoro Samurai the best fluorocarbon he's ever fished. Meyer spoke with In-Fisherman associate publisher Todd Ceisner as part of the 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

There aren't many better ways to spend a summer night than skewering fish in the shallows.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters really stand out for monsters.The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish Catfish

The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 21, 2020

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters...

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season.19 Ways to Get Your Crossbow, Compound Ready for Opening Day Bows

19 Ways to Get Your Crossbow, Compound Ready for Opening Day

Bob Robb - August 21, 2020

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season.

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together Wild Game

10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together

Game & Fish Online Staff

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.

See More Trending Articles

More Fishing

Hit these must-visit water systems for some great walleye fishing action during late summer.3 Hot Walleye Destinations for Late-Summer Action Fishing

3 Hot Walleye Destinations for Late-Summer Action

Joel Nelson

Hit these must-visit water systems for some great walleye fishing action during late summer.

The Upper Mississippi boasts an incredible fishery for panfish.Panfish Paradise: Late-Summer Bluegills, Perch and Crappies Panfish

Panfish Paradise: Late-Summer Bluegills, Perch and Crappies

Dr. Jason Halfen - September 02, 2020

The Upper Mississippi boasts an incredible fishery for panfish.

In late summer, Spanish Mackerel prowl the inshore and nearshore waters of the Atlantic and Gulf. Here are the top spots to target these tenacious fish before summer gives way to fall.5 of the Best Places to Catch Spanish Mackerel in Late Summer Fishing

5 of the Best Places to Catch Spanish Mackerel in Late Summer

Mike Marsh

In late summer, Spanish Mackerel prowl the inshore and nearshore waters of the Atlantic and...

Try your luck at trophy cats on this excellent border water.Destination Spotlight: Red River Channel Cats Fishing

Destination Spotlight: Red River Channel Cats

Dr. Jason Halfen - September 02, 2020

Try your luck at trophy cats on this excellent border water.

See More Fishing

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

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

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now