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Bass vs. Catfish (Do They Get Along?)

Bass vs. Catfish (Do They Get Along?)

Both bass and catfish are two very popular species that many anglers fish for. And as both of these fish are predators, a lot of people are wondering if bass and catfish can actually get along in one and the same body of water.

Can bass and catfish actually get along? Do they eat the same prey? Do they eat each other? And which of the two species is the stronger fighter on the rod? The answers to all of these questions will be presented in this article on the interesting topic of bass vs. catfish.

So if you want to find out everything there is to know about bass and cats, all you have to do is continue reading this article.

Disclaimer: This article is based on several published scientific references in order to make it more authoritative and trustworthy.

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Can Bass and Catfish Coexist?

Bass and catfish can most certainly coexist in the same body of water and in fact do so in numerous waters all across America.

Channel catfish especially are a species that can be found alongside bass in many lakes and ponds and are common target species for many anglers.

The presence of these two predators in such waters is actually the reason why many ponds and lakes are so popular among anglers, as it allows them to fish for both bass and catfish during one and the same fishing trip.

This is a win-win situation really, as pond and lake owners can charge higher prices for fishing licenses and anglers enjoy a richer fishing experience.

However, when channel cats become too big and numerous, they start to compete with bass in the food chain, as both species will go after the same type of prey. This, in turn, can negatively affect the bass population in such waters.

Many lake and pond managers choose to introduce pellet feeding, if and when this occurs, which channel catfish respond to in a very positive way.

And so, as the catfish is introduced to an external food source (at least in part), bass can continue to thrive alongside them, which creates a fairly stable balance between those two predators.

In waters that are not managed accordingly, however, catfish can quickly become the top predator, which of course spells problems for the bass.

RELATED ARTICLE: Make sure to also read this article if you want to find out if bass and carp can coexist!

Do Catfish Eat Bass?

a American angler holding a big catfish that he has caught at night in a river
Courtesy of Brandon Kelly

Depending on the size of the catfish and that of the bass, a catfish can and definitely will eat a bass if it can manage to do so.

The catfish’s preferred prey includes bluegill, shad, minnow, perch, and other smaller fish. But it won’t disregard a smaller bass if it is hungry and there is no other prey fish to be found.

In fact, many anglers have reported finding smaller bass in the stomachs of caught catfish and occasionally, you can even witness catfish hunting small bass near the bank if the water is clear enough.

The emphasis here is on smaller bass though, as it won’t be as easy for a catfish, even one of the bigger variety, to go for a fully grown largemouth bass.

For one thing, bass of over 6 or 8lb are really big and round fish, which makes swallowing them fairly difficult.

For another thing, a big largemouth bass doesn’t joke around and won’t be intimidated easily. It’s a tough and aggressive fish that will defend itself and attack anything that gets too close to it, especially during spawning season.

Hence, a catfish will think twice before it’ll try to eat a bigger bass.

RELATED ARTICLE: Check out this odd and interesting article and find out if catfish have periods!

Do Bass Eat Catfish?

a happy angler holding a big largemouth bass that he has caught from his boat using a crankbait
Courtesy of Ty Dupree Sr.

Once again, it is all about size! Largemouth bass can definitely eat catfish if it is big enough and the catfish it intends to eat is small enough.

Largemouth bass are predatory fish that will literally eat anything. And while their preferred prey is usually of a smaller size, including larvae, insects, leeches, and smaller prey fish, they won’t say no to a deliciously looking juvenile cat.

So, as long as that small catfish will fit in the bass’ mouth and can be swallowed, that cat is indeed living dangerously. It’s not called largemouth bass for no reason, right?

RELATED ARTICLE: Check out this article and find out more about the best lures and colors for largemouth bass in clearwater conditions

Bass vs. Catfish – What Fish Fights Harder?

This is a question that many anglers wonder about and one that is quite difficult to answer, as both bass and catfish are really good fighters on the rod.

Being predatory fish, bass and catfish have compact and muscular bodies that they effectively use to hunt prey.

When it comes to mere body size, the catfish would of course win this competition, as it will grow much bigger than even the largest of bass.

For a quick comparison, the biggest bass that was ever recorded had a length of 38 inches and weighed 22lb.

And while that is a truly impressive fish that would give any angler one hell of a fight, it is comparatively small to the biggest channel catfish ever recorded in the US. This fish weighed in at an enormous 58lb. And so, this is not a fair comparison, really.

When it comes to raw strength per inch and pound, it’s once again the channel cat that would take home the trophy. According to most anglers who have fished for both species, a 5lb catfish is definitely stronger than a 5lb bass.

PRO TIP: You can check out the visual quick fact sheet of this article in the related bass vs. cafish web story here!

However, if we look at agility, navigation, and fighting skills on the rod, the Oscar would have to go to (drumroll please): the smallmouth bass.

While a catfish will give you a really hard fight, all it will do, really, is to try to keep to the bottom and roll on your line.

Smallmouth bass, on the other hand, will fight you in a much more aggressive and smart way, relentlessly running off, changing directions, and making insane jumps out of the water.

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Can You Catch Catfish on Bass Gear?

Many anglers catch smaller catfish on lighter bass gear and up to a certain size, they can be caught without much of a hassle.

Although it will definitely be easier fighting a cat using a spinning combo, compared to smaller-sized baitcaster combos that many bass anglers tend to use.

Given you are using a strong enough line, a rod and reel combo like the one mentioned above can definitely land you a cat up to 15, maybe even 20lb, if you have the necessary skill to fight and land it.

That said, such gear will of course have its limits and you simply cannot expect to be able to successfully land a really big channel cat on it.

RELATED ARTICLES: Read this article to get tips on the best bass fluorocarbon leaders on the market!

This is why you must always be aware of the fact that a bigger catfish beyond the 20lb mark could snap your line at any moment.

If you accept that risk, you can happily target catfish with your bass gear as well and just hope to avoid those really big slobs out there.

Essential Gear Tips

If you’re looking for solid and reliable bass fishing equipment, these tips might be useful for you.

This gear and tackle is of top quality and sells at a very decent price on Amazon.

Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod

An awesome baitcasting rod of the highest quality! This rod is super lightweight, has great sensitivity and phenomenal action. Fits both beginners and seasoned bass pros. Easily the best baitcasting rod for the money!

Abu Garcia Revo X Baitcasting Reel

An affordable high-performance baitcaster reel that’s perfect for bass fishing. Abu Garcia gear basically lasts forever, so you don’t have to worry about buying a new reel anytime soon! Makes for a great bass combo together with the Ugly Stick!

Power Pro Braid

Without a doubt, one of the best braids available today. Zero stretch, great feel, and immense strength make this line the perfect pick for bass in both open and snaggy waters. Put on a 15 to 25lb test, and you’re good to go!

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Featured image courtesy of Adam Markley and Brandon Kelly