How To Catch Catfish In Texas Rivers

Texas is home to some of the finest catfish fishing in the United States, thanks to its extensive network of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Catfish are abundant in these waters, and many anglers find the pursuit of these whiskered giants to be both thrilling and rewarding. In this article, we will discuss the art of catching catfish in Texas rivers, providing you with essential tips and techniques to enhance your fishing experience.

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How To Catch Catfish In Texas Rivers

Know Your Catfish Species

Before you head to the river, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different catfish species you might encounter in Texas. The three most common species are the Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, and Flathead Catfish. Each has distinct habits and preferences, so understanding their characteristics can greatly improve your success rate.

Channel Catfish: These are the most widespread catfish species in Texas rivers. They prefer flowing waters and are often found near the bottom. Use baits like chicken liver, worms, or stinkbaits to target them.

Blue Catfish: Known for their immense size, blue catfish can grow to several hundred pounds. They are often found in large rivers and reservoirs. Use live baitfish or cut bait to lure them.

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Flathead Catfish: Flatheads are also large predators, preferring live bait such as sunfish or shad. They like to hide in submerged structures like logjams and holes

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Choose the Right Gear

Selecting the right fishing gear is crucial for catfish fishing success. Here are some equipment essentials:

Rod and Reel: Opt for medium to heavy-duty spinning or baitcasting rods and reels that can handle the weight of larger catfish.

Line: Use strong and abrasion-resistant fishing lines with a pound test rating suitable for the size of catfish you’re targeting.

Hooks: Circle hooks are a popular choice for catfish fishing because they often result in lip hooking, minimizing harm to the fish.

Bait: As mentioned earlier, the choice of bait depends on the catfish species you’re targeting. Prepared baits, stinkbaits, worms, cut bait, and live baitfish can all be effective.


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Location Matters

Finding the right spot in Texas rivers is crucial for catfish success. Consider the following factors:

Water Depth: Catfish often prefer deeper waters. Look for holes, drop-offs, and areas with structure like submerged logs or rocks.

Currents: Catfish are usually found in areas with moderate currents that provide them with access to food without expending too much energy.

Temperature: Catfish are more active in warmer water, so fishing during the spring and summer months can yield better results.

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Patience and Persistence

Catfish fishing in Texas rivers can be a waiting game. Be patient, and give your baits time to attract catfish. It’s not uncommon to wait for extended periods before you get a bite. Use this time to appreciate the natural beauty of the river and enjoy the peacefulness of fishing.

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Proper Handling and Conservation

Responsible fishing is essential for the sustainability of catfish populations. Handle catfish with care, release undersized or over-the-limit catches, and follow all fishing regulations and guidelines set by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

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Best Bait for Catfish in Texas:

The best bait for catfish in Texas often depends on the species you’re targeting. For Channel Catfish, popular baits include chicken liver, worms, and stinkbaits. Blue Catfish prefer live baitfish or cut bait. Flathead Catfish are more inclined to bite on live sunfish or shad.

Best Bait for Catfish in a River:

When fishing for catfish in rivers, consider using natural baits such as live or cut baitfish, worms, or shad. These baits release scent and vibrations into the water, attracting catfish, which are often found near the river bottom.

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Easiest Way to Catch a Catfish:

One of the easiest ways to catch catfish is to use prepared baits like stinkbaits or chicken liver on a simple setup. Cast your baited hook into likely catfish territory, wait patiently, and be ready to set the hook when you feel a bite.

Best Months for Catfish in Texas:

While catfish can be caught year-round in Texas, the best months tend to be from late spring through summer. Warmer water temperatures increase catfish activity, making them more receptive to feeding.

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Catfish’s Favorite Food:

Catfish are opportunistic feeders and will consume a variety of foods. Some of their favorite natural foods include small fish, insects, worms, crayfish, and even aquatic plants, depending on the species and size of the catfish.

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Best Time to Catfish:

The best time to catch catfish is usually during dawn and dusk, as well as throughout the night. Catfish are nocturnal feeders, and low-light conditions make them more active and likely to bite.

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Time of Day Catfish Bite the Most:

Catfish tend to bite the most during the night and early morning hours. They are more active and aggressive in low light, making late evening and early morning fishing trips productive.

Where to Find Catfish in Texas:

In Texas, you can find catfish in various water bodies, including rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. Look for them near structures like submerged logs, rocks, or deep holes where they can seek shelter and ambush prey.

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Most Common Catfish in Texas:

The most common catfish species in Texas rivers and lakes include the Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, and Flathead Catfish. Channel Catfish are particularly abundant and widespread, making them a popular target for anglers in the state.


Catching catfish in Texas rivers is a popular and rewarding pastime for many anglers. To increase your chances of success, remember to study the different catfish species, choose the right gear, locate prime fishing spots, exercise patience, and practice responsible fishing. With these tips and techniques in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a memorable catfish fishing adventure in the Lone Star State’s beautiful rivers.

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