Herald Photo / Provided
Herald Photo / Provided
A recent browsing of Facebook the other night cemented what I already knew: various species of catfish are a popular species for many Hoosier anglers. 

In fact, for a lot of Hoosiers, catfish rank at the top of their favorite fish to go after. As I browsed through the news feed I noticed several posts and even a video of folks of people catfishing or describing their fondness thereof. Then I got to thinking: what is the fascination with catfish? Then it hit me: they can provide good meals, can get huge, and we find them intriguing.  

Catfish provide great sport, and for the most part, also make for some fine eating. These facts, coupled with the possibility of dealing with fish of monstrous proportions when referring to species such as blues or flatheads, make it easy to see the attraction we have for them.

The three most popular species of catfish in Indiana are the channel catfish, flathead catfish, and the blue catfish, and methods for catching them can often vary as much as the fish themselves do. Channel catfish, for instance, are omnivorous, which means that they eat a wide variety of things. They are attracted to foods that have a strong odor and easily can be caught on a variety of bait from redworms or nightcrawlers to chicken livers.

Channels – as they are often referred to – also are likely the first species of catfish to become active during the year. Channels usually can be caught with regularity beginning in March when the water temperatures are still cold. In fact, the cooler water temperatures, of say in the 50s or so, can often be the best time to catch these tasty whiskerfish. But that doesn’t mean that that action for them dies down as spring progresses. Right now is still a good time to target them, with many bodies of water having temperatures in the mid to high 60s. Channel catfish are the most predominant catfish in our area and rarely exceed 10 to 12 pounds. 

The larger flatheads become active a little later on as the temperatures increase. This species of catfish is strictly predatory, eating only live bait such as bluegills, bass, shad, and crayfish. Many anglers prefer to fish for flatheads at night as the fish move into the shallows to feed. During the daytime, they tend to hunker down in holes, etc., making them hard to catch. Remember, as with all catfish, they are still opportunistic, though, so if you find where they are laying up at and drop your bait in their face, you still sometimes can catch them during daylight hours.

Blue catfish are one of the largest species of catfish and typically a large river fish, although they also can be found in reservoirs. They are opportunistic feeders and will eat just about any prey they can catch. Good choices for blues include shrimp, live bait, or cut up bait such as shad. Target them in the deeper holes that have a swift current. They will however move into feeder creeks to spawn.

So, after deep consideration and some thought – and after a recent weekend having a blast with my family catching several channel cats – you know what, they just may be my favorite fish, too!