Throughout the country, there are numerous ponds and lakes that are stocked with farm or hatchery-raised catfish.
These are very popular destinations for fishermen and while these bodies of water are full of fish, there is also a lot of competition.
In this article, I’ll go over 5 easy things you can do to increase your success rate of catching these tasty fish.
How To Catch Stocked Catfish
The best ways to catch stocked catfish are to use worms and liver or other smelly pellet-shaped baits. Use a basic bobber rig to keep your bait near the surface, and start by fishing in the exact area the catfish were released.
Ponds and lakes that are stocked with catfish are everywhere. Catfish are commonly stocked fish in municipal ponds and rural ponds. In some parts of the country, there are even lakes called pay lakes that are stocked with catfish.
People come to pay lakes and pay a fee to fish for the day. In those areas, this is a common way to get fresh catfish for dinner! Catfish is a mild, tasty, and very nutritious fish, so it’s popular eating fish, even by people who don’t normally like fish.
Stocked catfish have had a very different life before being released than fish that grew up in the wild. Because of this, it’s not surprising that there are some changes you can make to your fishing methods to increase your effectiveness.
Use Worms And Liver
The single biggest difference between a stocked fish and a wild fish is its diet. While a wild fish has grown up eating a variety of foods from its environment, the stocked fish has largely been eating pellets.
This might lead you to think that stock catfish would have no interest in natural foods, but this isn’t the case.
The clear leaders in the natural baits are worms/nightcrawlers and chicken liver. There is a theory that-even in farm ponds or hatcheries- the fish will have encountered worms so they will recognize them as food. If you can get them, catalpa worms are also very attractive to stocked catfish.
Some fishermen will put a bit of liver on with the worm and swear that it increases the effectiveness. Liver, just by itself, is also an incredibly powerful bait for stocked catfish.
Catfish are largely driven by smell, so anything that triggers these instincts will work as bait on either a stocked or wild fish. Use worms and liver and you will catch more stocked catfish!
Use Smelly Artificial Baits (Especially in pellet form)
Because a stocked fish has less experience with natural foods, smelly baits are more likely to attract them than some natural baits that a wild fish might recognize.
There are any number of smelly baits (called stink baits) for sale at your local bait shop. Danny King’s is a brand that is highly regarded for catching stocked fish as well as wild ones.
You can also make your own. Just be careful, because the smell of stink baits is hard to get out of your clothes and off your hands!
One of the popular tricks for catching freshly stocked catfish is to get some of the pellets that are used to feed them where they were raised, grind them up, and mix them in with a dough ball bait or a blood bait.
This gives the freshly-released fish a familiar scent that they associate with food. You should fish this kind of bait near the top of the water because stocked catfish are used to grabbing pellets from the surface.
It’s also easy to make your own smelly baits for stocked fish. These usually involve some kind of meat like chicken, liver, or hot dogs and any number of flavorings. Flavorings can include blood, garlic, various oils, Kool-Aid, Jello Mix, or any number of other things. The sky is the limit.
Use any artificial bait that throws out a lot of smell and you will have an advantage when catching stocked catfish.
Use A Basic Rig & Keep It Simple
You don’t need a fancy rig for catching catfish; a very basic setup is fine. Because you are fishing for stocked fish, you will be catching fish in the one to three-pound range in most places.
You don’t need a high test line or fancy leaders. Just attach a medium hook to the end of your line on a basic rod and reel.
You’re going to be more likely to have luck with a bobber than a fisherman who is out for wild catfish.
Farmed catfish are used to having to rise for food when it is thrown into the pond at feeding time. If they don’t get up there and grab it quickly, one of the other fish will.
Have some bobbers with you and try out different depths, but start shallow. If the bait tends to float to a higher level than you want it to, attach a sinker.
If it’s hot, the fish may stay near the bottom. Take off the bobber, put on a sinker, and lay the bait on the bottom for a while. This is particularly effective with worms.
One great thing to have with your gear is a small bag of the pellets that the fish are fed at the farm. A few handfuls of this chummed into the water can get stocked fish convinced it’s feeding time. Sometimes they will practically hit a bare hook after you do this.
Know The Body Of Water
This is a must for any kind of fishing. You need to know where the cover is where fish might congregate, you will want to know where the deep spots are where they will try to escape the heat, and where there are food sources are.
In a larger body of water, it can also be handy to know where the fish were stocked. It is not uncommon for the fish to stay near where they were put in for a few days.
Hint- I bet they were stocked near the closest boat ramp!
Knowing your waterway will let allow you to put your bait where the fish are.
Focus On The Time Of Day
Stocked fish are like any other fish; if it gets too hot, they go deep where it’s cooler. While you generally will have good luck fishing for stocked fish in the shallows where they feed, this is not true at noon on a hot day.
This is when you need to lose your bobber, put on a sinker, and get your bait out into the deep water.
Nighttime is a great time to catch catfish. At night you want to be in the shallows, and you want to be using something that throws out a lot of smell. This is also a good time to ditch the bobber and let the bait sit on the bottom where the fish can muddle up to it by smell.
Full Article: What Is The Best Time Of Day To Catch Catfish?
Catfish are one of the most prolific and abundant species of freshwater fish on the planet. They are farmed, hatched, and stocked as both a food source and recreational opportunity for anglers all over the world!
To find out about stocked catfish in your area, contact your local fish and wildlife agency. In many cases, they have stocked fishing programs specifically designed for young and beginner anglers.
I hope the tips in this article help you out, Good luck!
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