Skip to main content Skip to main content

10 Best Channel Catfish Locations In The U.S.

10 Best Channel Catfish Locations In The U.S.

1 Yellowstone River > Montana

'For sheer numbers of channel catfish, it's tough to beat the Yellowstone River near Sidney in eastern Montana, ' says Sidney resident Steve Harris. 'They average 3 to 5 pounds, and you easily catch 20 to 30 cats a day. If you want bigger catfish, the upper end of Fort Peck Reservoir and the Missouri River just above Fort Peck has a huge population of 10- to 25-pounders.
­Contact: Montana Cats,­; High Caliber Sports in Sidney, 406/433-1800.

3 Lewisville Lake > Texas

'When you fish under trees where water turkeys (cormorant) roost, you won't catch big catfish, but you catch 'em till your arms get tired, ' says Texan Benny Roberts. He globs his famed Benny Roberts SureShot Punch Bait on a #4 to #6 treble hook and shortly after sunrise flips it gently near the base of trees white-washed with cormorant droppings. 'It's usually 'plop...bang!' ' he says. 'They grab it as soon as it hits the water. If you want to fill a cooler with 2- to 5-pound catfish, that's the way to do it. '
­Contact: Guide Chad Ferguson, North Texas Catfish Guide Service,, 817/522-3804.

4 Tuttle Creek Lake > Kansas

'Tuttle Creek Lake has more catfish averaging 4 to 5 pounds, but John Redmond Reservoir's cats are around 8 or 9 pounds, ' says Dave Studebaker of the Catfish Chaser catfish club. 'For overall good fishing, go to Tuttle Creek. '
­Contact: Guide D. J. Clemons, 785/965-2691; Catfish Chasers Catfishing Tournament Series,

5 Calumus Lake > Nebraska

'Calumus Lake got a lot of attention last year because anglers did well during tournaments on that lake, ' says Jeff Schuckman, fishery biologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. 'I was at a channel catfish tournament there last summer and the winning team's fish averaged 28 pounds. ' 'It's a fantastic catfish lake if you know how to fish it, ' says Curt Kiner, Nebraska tournament catfisherman. 'It's a night bite, and early in the season the hot spot is up in the Calumus River just above the reservoir. Fish all night and you can catch 25 or 30 cats that can average 20 pounds. '
­Contact: Central Nebraska Cat,

7 Lake Mendota > Wisconsin

'A couple springs ago we did a survey on the northeast side of Lake Mendota, ' says Kurt Welke, fishery manager for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 'We pulled 444 channel catfish that averaged 10 to 12 pounds from one fyke net that was so full of catfish it looked like a stuffed sausage. I've never seen anything like it. It was a good example of the huge population of big channel cats we have in Mendota. ' Begin your quest in the northeast corner of the lake, near the Highway 113 bridge where current flows from Cherokee Marsh.
­Contact: D&S Bait Tackle & Archery in Madison,, 608/241-4225.

8 Barkley Lake > Kentucky

'It's nothing to catch 50 or 60 pounds of channel cats and fill a cooler in a day, ' says guide Jim Leech. 'I have most of my luck on Lake Barkley in May and June, during the spawn, but the Land Between the Lakes side of Kentucky Lake is good, too, because there are more rocks on that side. '
­Contact: Guide Jim Leech at Eddy Creek Resort,, 270/625-0704.

9 Lake Murray > Columbia, South Carolina

'Lake Murray is hands-down the best channel catfish lake in the state, ' says guide Chris Simpson. 'It has an exceptional number of big cats up to 15 pounds. Most people overlook channel cats and go after bigger blues and flatheads that the lakes in South Carolina are known for, ' he says. 'But if you want a battle, try landing a 10- or 12-pound channel cat. A 12-pounder could drag a 20-pound blue all over the lake. '
­Contact: Guide Chris Simpson, ­, 864/992-2352.

10 Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie > Ohio

'It's absolutely the best channel cat fishery I've ever seen, ' says Jason Stanfield, who runs the Northern Ohio Catfish Tournament Trail. 'On one trip in 2013 we caught and released 125 cats. ' He says the bridges that cross the mouth of the bay create currents throughout the year and attract channel cats that average 5 to 15 pounds.
­Contact: Northern Ohio Catfish Tournament Trail,, 440/420-7765.

2 Colorado River > Arizona/California

'Channel cats are abundant almost everywhere along the lower Colorado River, ' says In-Fisherman contributor Kirk McKay. 'Typical sizes are 3 to 7 pounds for anglers using cut and prepared baits. Larger channels from 8 to 16 pounds are caught on livebaits by anglers targeting flatheads. '
­Contact: B&B Tackle in Blythe, California, 760/921-2248.

6 Red River of the North > North Dakota/Minnesota

'If they're in the mood to bite, a buddy and I can catch and release 20 to 30 fish in a 4- or 5-hour trip on the Red, ' says Rob Raymond, president of the Red River Valley Catfish Club. 'They weigh 10 to 20 pounds in the Grand Forks area. If we've had a flood event so the big boys can move upstream over the dams, I've seen 35-pounders come out of the river in this area. Lots of people catch nice channel cats from the bank along the Riverwalk in downtown East Grand Forks, ' he says.
­Contact: Red River Valley Catfish Club,; Captain Brad Durick,, 701/739-5808.

Channel Catfish Locations

Best Channel Catfish

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Subscribe Now and Get a Full Year

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now