Summer is catfish time in Ohio

Christopher Aman, a fish biologist with the Ohio Department of Wildlife, caught a 25-inch channel catfish on a recreational trip to Sandusky Bay. Channel catfish average 15 to 25 inches in Ohio but can grow to between 30 and 35 inches. Other types of catfish, such as flatfish and blue catfish, can grow larger, especially in lakes, inland reservoirs, and the Ohio River. (Photos provided)

Columbus – Summer is a great time for anglers to spot catfish in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Wildlife Natural Resources. Lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and streams in Ohio are home to four types of catfish: blue, bull, channel, and flatfish.

The Wildlife Division regularly stocks more than 300,000 catfish in more than 100 different tanks. Channel catfish are naturally found in most Ohio rivers and streams and thrive in Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay.

A popular sport fish, they are usually 15 to 25 inches long and may weigh up to 10 pounds. In larger reservoirs and rivers, channel catfish can be much larger, with a few trophy fish reaching the 26-inch requirement for identification with Fish Ohio.

blue catfish

The largest catfish in the state is the blue catfish, which regularly reaches 30-40 inches in length. The standard Ohio blue catfish weighed 96 pounds. Blue catfish that are at least 35 inches long qualifies for Fish Ohio recognition. This species is found in the Ohio River and is stocked in Clendening Lake, Caesar Creek Reservoir, Hoover Reservoir, and Lake Seneca by the Department of Wildlife, where Hoover presents hunters with the best chance of success. More than 150,000 blue catfish were stocked in 2021.

Flathead catfish

Flathead catfish present a challenge to anglers as they can weigh up to 80 pounds, although most will be between five and 40 pounds with lengths of up to 50 inches. They are found in the largest rivers and reservoirs in Ohio. The Muskingum watershed is a hot spot. Anglers will need heavy ball handling in a flat-headed cup, as most fish are caught near underwater structures and floating piles. Flatheads that are over 35 inches long qualify for Fisheye Ohio recognition.

catfish bullhead

The three types of Ohio bighead catfish—black, brown, and yellow—can be found in a variety of waters statewide. Smaller than other catfish species, bulls are between 10 and 12 inches long. Bullheads feed aggressively and target a variety of baits, which is why it can be exciting to hunt them. Bighead catfish must be 14 inches in length to qualify for Ohio Fish recognition.

summer fishing

Pursuit of catfish is at its best in the summer months when it is actively feeding. Catfish spend most of the day in deep water and may not respond to bait, but they move to shallow waters to feed at night. Shallow flats adjacent to deep pits and along shorelines provide concentrations for feeding catfish.

Night fishing during the summer usually achieves success, and Ohio catfish not only provide excellent entertainment but also great table fare.

Catfish are omnivores, feeding on a variety of types of food. The flathead blue catfish easily feeds on small fish and can be caught on shad gizzards, suckers or chub. For channel catfish, try shrimp, chicken liver, and night crawl. A strong sense of smell is a common trait among Ohio catfish. Using scented baits will result in higher catch rates.

Fishermen looking to target catfish this summer can find fishing tips by species, catch reports and forecasts at Novice hunters can access a variety of other resources to get started on the Wild Ohio Harvest Community page. The destination finder can help you find a public fishing area near you.

A fishing license is required for fishermen 16 years or older. More details can be found in the Hunting Regulations 2022-23, available online, on the HuntFish OH mobile app or from a licensed sales agent.

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