Catfish are an excellent target species for the summer months, as they like warm water and remain fairly active even when temperatures go very high.
But is there good and bad weather for catfishing?
Do certain weather conditions turn the bite on more than others? I wanted to find out and did some extensive research about the best weather for catfish fishing.
Catfish can be caught year-round but are most active in water temperatures between 60 and 80º F. They prefer hunting and feeding in low visibility conditions, so cloudy days with light to moderate southern or western winds can make for excellent catfishing.
Keep reading this article and find out everything there is to know about the perfect weather conditions for catfish!
Best Weather Conditions for Catfish
Of course, catfish can be caught in all weather conditions, and cold and hot weather, but certain types and combinations of weather conditions are definitely better than others! This is true for all fish species, cats included!
So what are those conditions? And is there even such a thing as the perfect weather for catfish fishing?
If you ask other anglers, you’ll get many different answers. However, many of those answers will overlap, at least partly. And that’s proof enough that those optimal catfish weather conditions exist!
Let’s check out those conditions, then!
As always, water temperatures are the most crucial thing to check when discussing fishing weather! They dictate the fish’s energy and activity level and can mean the difference between a day of slow or no bites and a filled daily limit!
Both flathead, blue, and channel cats are warm-water-loving fish and can tolerate fairly high water temperatures.
They thrive best in water with a temperature range of about 60 to 80º F but often remain active and feeding in water temperatures of up to 100º F.
That’s pretty uncommon among freshwater fish and explains why catfish can be caught throughout the summer, no matter how warm the water gets.
Of course, even the toughest of catfish need oxygen, and during the dog days of summer, when the sun practically boils the water in the shallows, fishing for cats during the day’s cooler hours (i.e., at night) can be a good idea.
Sunlight and clouds also play a significant role in catfish fishing! While it is untrue that catfish are purely nocturnal creatures (active only at night), they do prefer low-light conditions when hunting and feeding.
Clouds equal less sunlight and, hence, more active cats. And so, on overcast days, they can often be caught throughout the entire day.
They can also be found in shallower water on cloudy days, as lower light conditions make hunting for baitfish much easier.
Additionally, the baitfish themselves will be more active and less careful in lower visibility, making them easy prey for hungry catfish in the shallows.
Fishing in those conditions often produces plenty of bites, and chances are good that you end up experiencing a regular feeding frenzy!
Wind intensity and direction are yet another important weather condition for catfishing.
Light to moderate southern or western winds can turn the bite on, especially along the wind-blown shorelines.
Cats are bottom-feeders, for the most part, so you wouldn’t expect the wind to play such a vital role. But think about it; southern and western winds almost always mean moderate or warmer temperatures and clouds!
Furthermore, the wind gets the water moving and increases its turbidity, which is exactly what you want when fishing for catfish.
Movement in surface water also means more food for small fish, as zooplankton and other small organisms are moving around quite a bit.
And where there are baitfish, the big cats will soon follow!
Northern and eastern winds are generally less advantageous when fishing for cats, as they often bring colder temperatures and clear skies. Occasional exceptions prove the rule, of course!
According to all the reports I’ve heard and read, barometric pressure doesn’t seem to have a huge effect on catfish.
But consider all the other weather conditions that can make catfishing an easier game (moderate temperatures, clouds, and southern or western winds).
In that case, a stable low pressure or a slowly-falling barometer will often accompany these conditions and increase your chances of catching catfish.
Low barometric pressure is generally considered favorable for fishing (and that is my experience as well), but don’t focus too much on it!
Is Rain Good for Catfish Fishing?
If clouds and low-light conditions are good for catfishing, rain can be absolutely phenomenal for it! In fact, many catfish anglers prefer fishing in light to moderate rain, as it often turns on the bite like mad.
Once again, the reason for this is water turbidity. Rain makes lake or river water muddy, and there is no better environment than stained or muddy water for catfish to hunt and feed in.
Cats really love muddy water conditions and will often be super active once the water is stained!
It’s not the most comfortable of weather conditions, but it can be well worth it.
Another advantage, especially during high summer, is that rain will oxygenize the warm water, turning on the fish and making them hungry again.
A good shower is a blessing after a long period of hot and dry weather.
So if you want to catch plenty of cats, you better get your rain gear out and hunker down. The bite will most likely be insane!
RELATED ARTICLE: What Is the Maximum Size of Channel Catfish?
Do Catfish Like Hot Weather?
As mentioned above, catfish are fairly tolerant toward high water temperatures and remain active and feeding in temperatures well above 80º F.
In fact, cats might be one of the easiest gamefish to catch in super-high temperatures!
It’s definitely a good target species for the hot summer months if you know where to find and how to fish for them.
BAIT TIP: Both live and cut bait can produce excellent results. But if the bite is slow, bait your hooks with crayfish! Crawdads can be a real game-changer during the dog days of summer.
And remember to stick to the somewhat cooler hours of the day (meaning very early mornings, late evenings, and nights).
Do Catfish Bite in Cold Weather?
Cats like it warm, but do they also feed in cold water temperatures? The answer is a definite yes!
But of course, the bite is generally slower, and the feeding windows much shorter than during the warmer months of the year.
And the colder the water gets, the harder it’ll become to catch those fish! All three major catfish species (channel, blue, and flathead) will become much less active once the water temperature dips below 50º F.
And while you can still catch the occasional blue and flathead once temperatures go below 40º F, flatheads basically seize to feed altogether in such cold water!
BAIT TIP: If you want to target catfish during the colder months, try to use bigger and smellier cut baits, as they’ll most likely do a better job attracting the fish.
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Featured image courtesy of Dan Phillips