The Catfish Spawn: A Problem with a Solution
Catfish, unlike bass, crappie and bluegill, are the most difficult to catch during the spawn.
Spring and early summer are difficult seasons to capture nice cats. Males can vary widely within the same water body, which drives them to stop feeding until they hatch.
This is a problem for many new anglers or those who are just starting to learn about the unique habits of catfish. They stop catfishing until they feel that summer is here.
Understanding catfish spawning is a great way to reduce the negative effects and get back to the cats quickly.
Let’s have a closer look at the spawn, and find a solution.
Catfish Spawning Basics
Water temperature is what triggers catfish spawning, as it is with all species. This means that water temperature can be affected by everything, from latitude to inflows and water depth. Let’s get down to the details.
If you know how to do it, you can catch big cats in spring!
Aquaculture markets are critical to determining the ideal temperature for spawning, and much of what we know about catfish is derived from wildlife biologists. Keep in mind, however, that catfish farms may not be exact analogs for local rivers or lakes. These marks should only be used as rough gauges and measures.
Keith Sutton, an expert on blue catfish, suggests that channel and blue catfish spawn between 70-84 degrees. However, 80-81 degrees is the best. Flatheads spawn between 66 and 75 degrees.
Dr. Hal Schramm, another expert, believes that channel catfish can spawn at temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees F in the wild. While some fish culturists believe 80 degrees F is the ideal temperature, others prefer a lower temperature. Based on observations of natural populations, the spawning temperatures range for blues is 70°F to 75°F and flatheads 68°F to 75°F.
First, notice that these are quite wide ranges. This suggests a long-lasting spawning season. It may start at 70 degrees and peak around 80. The actual spawning period of each cat is only 5-10 days, but the effect on fishing is likely long.
A second thing to remember is that shallower water heats earlier so different fishing spots may experience the spawn at slightly different times. A stagnant, shallow lake will experience the effects of the spawn sooner than a river.
Even within the same body, different areas of the water will heat up more quickly than others. If a warm, shallow stream flows into the main lake or if the sun is almost always available to the water, spawning will likely begin sooner than expected.
This is the third thing to consider: you can expect pre-spawn, post-spawn, and spawn cats in the same water body.
Catfish Spawning Behavior
You need to understand more about the behavior of catfish spawning.
All three of the big fish are known as cavity spawners. This means that catfish search for cracks and crevices to produce their next generation.
All three of the big three are “cavity spawners”.
Males will seek out a safe spot once the water reaches 70 degrees. He’ll fertilize the eggs and she’ll leave the nest.
He’ll keep the eggs clean and oxygenated for up to 10 days, depending on the water temperature. He’ll ride shotgun to their hatching point until they disperse.
He’ll even stop eating all the time.
It’s almost impossible to catch him due to spawning-triggered anorexia. Don’t expect her not to take your bait, even though she is actively participating in the spawn.
What does this mean for you?
You can track the water temperature to get an idea of where catfish spawn. However, keep in mind local variations.
A movement that is in tune with the spawn is the key to unlocking the key.
You can move to a river with colder water, or a deeper spot to try and find an area that is too cold for the spawning. You may find yourself in warmer areas as the temperature rises in colder locations.
To avoid this, stage your fishing at the right time for the spawn. If you want to keep your fish in season, then it is best to stay on pre-spawn and post-spawn fish.
While it may not be a great time to catch catfish in spawn, it will reduce the problem.
The Spawn is Prime Time for Noodling!
The spawn is not a problem for noodlers.
Catfish are easy targets because they retreat to holes to spawn. The guarding males will not move but will bite any object that gets in their way–even a noodler’s arm or hand.
The spawn is a great time to catch cats hand-in-hand if you are willing to give up your reel and rod.