When Do Catfish Spawn? Is it Even Worth Fishing During It?

When Do Catfish Spawn Featured Image

Some anglers find the spawning season of catfishing to be too difficult to enjoy. Whether you feel the same or not, you may be wondering: when do catfish spawn?

Catfish spawn during the late spring and into early summer. They do not spawn at one particular time, but the typical spawning seasons are later spring months into June and July. Still, catfish will not spawn unless water temperatures and locations are favorable.

In this article, we’ll not only cover when catfish spawn but where and whether or not it is worth it for you to try and fish for catfish during a spawn!

Channel catfish spawning

When Do Catfish Spawn?

Catfish do not spawn at the same time. But they do all tend to spawn under particular conditions:

  • Temperatures – A catfish will begin spawning only if the temperature is right. Their ideal water temperature for spawning is between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a high of 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  • Locations – Catfish spawning will typically be near the nests near banks, and rocks. This is because males, particularly channel and white catfish, protect their young for at least ten days, if not for 17 days total. Our guide on The Top 10 Places Catfish Live will give more insights into where they live and how to catch them.
  • Times – The catfish spawning season takes place from the last part of spring in May to the first part of summer, usually around June or the first week of July. However, catfish do not all spawn at the same time, sometimes late to the season or even early. A catfish is not done spawning until its eggs are hatched and a week old.

The spawning season of a catfish is not the most consistent thing in the angler world, since some catfish even skip spawning season, but it is something to be aware of!

Should You Fish During A Catfish Spawn?

The best time to fish for catfish is not during the spawn, but in a time called the “post-spawn.” 

Catfish are typically aggressively hungry after their long stint as protectors of the nest and ready to chase down any bait a fisherman offers them!

During the spawn, female catfish begin fasting and won’t be interested in swimming around or eating. This makes them difficult to catch. The males are no better because they’ll remain near or on the nest of their young, equally uninterested in eating until the job is done. That’s parenthood for you!

However, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to fish during a catfish spawn.

Catfish fishing during the spawn

Where to Fish During A Catfish Spawn

  • Fish Near Flats – If you’re determined to catch spawning catfish, try looking around the area without strong currents or in the shallows. The best places will have a snag or two nearby. These are easily noticed when looking around back eddies in the water or close to the banks.
  • Fish Near Rocks – This might not sound ideal, but remember, a catfish’s favorite spawning area will be among rocks. If you’re looking to catch one during the spawning season, you’ll have to get comfortable casting around the stones. 
  • Fish Near Holes – Those yawning openings in cut banks of rivers are tricky to spot, usually underwater, and nice hiding places for catfish, but they are one of the most enjoyable places to fish during a spawn. Catfish tend to back into these holes, so cast close to the openings for the best results.
  • Sit In One Place Longer – It may not match your usual catfishing style, but remember, during spawn season, catfish don’t care about eating. It can take a long time for any spawning fish to notice your bait. Don’t be surprised if you remain in one place for as long as an hour. 
  • Move Bait Slowly – Remember, catfish that are spawning aren’t likely to chase down fast food. They are more focused on the task at hand. So, be sure to move the bait you’ve cast in a slow, gradual way. This helps the spawning fish be interested enough to take a bite.
  • Watch Out For Moving Lines – While catfish are aggressive after spawning, they are not in the same mood during the spawn. Even if a fish takes your bait, it is likely to simply swim slowly around with it. A male catfish may even carry your bait away from the nest without ever bending the rod. Be sure to bear down as soon as the line moves.

All of these areas are great to try when fishing for catfish. Our article on The Ultimate Guide to the Best Catfish Bait details what baits to use in these situations.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, if you’re determined to fish during the spawning season, you need to know that catfish spawn from early May through early July. A spawning catfish lets go of its fry within a week. However, if the water temperature dips below 60 degrees, catfish spawning season can last for more than one week. 

It is not impossible to catch catfish while the spawn is going on, but remember that catfish will likely remain in or near the banks and rocks and be uninterested in eating.