Planning a Great Catfish Fishing Trip

Seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it? You just throw your bait and tackle in a bag, grab your interstate map, and hit the road. Actually, a good fishing trip depends more on planning than you might imagine. You can always just hit the road, find a stream somewhere, and stand a good chance of catching something. But, some good planning will make the trip go much smoother, and you’ll enjoy your fishing vacation much more.

What to Take

First off, make a checklist. I would recommend starting your checklist well before you leave for your trip. Include fishing gear like rods, bait, lures; clothes including boots, gloves and bad weather gear like a poncho; tools for sharpening hooks and little things like that, and whatever else you need to keep yourself comfortable. When you pack, separate all these things in little bags within your big bag, like a small bag for tools, one for fishing gear, etc.

Now, there will always be some little thing you’ll forget. Each time you go on a trip, you’ll end up getting there and smacking yourself on the forehead, saying, “I can’t believe I forgot THAT.” It’s no problem; packing perfectly takes some practice. I guarantee that you won’t forget it next time, and after several catfishing outings, you’ll have packing down to a science.

Before you pack, you’ll also have to think about what fishing method you are going to use. For example, if you plan on wading into streams, you’ll want to take the appropriate clothes and gear. If you’re going to fish at night, don’t forget lights. Whether your chumming, juglining or fly fishing, you’ll need a whole different checklist of gear to take.

Where to Go

The next question is where to go. Catfish are found in rivers, lakes and ponds all over the United States and well up into Canada. Probably the best catfishing in the country is in the south and mid-west, from as far north as Missouri, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, and all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico and Texas. You can also find catfish out west and further up north, so it really doesn’t matter where you go. Ask any angler, and they’ll tell you that their neck of the woods is the best, but the fact is, you can catch catfish all over the country. This is one of the things that makes catfishing so great.

You might talk to some friends or folks down at the bait shop and see what they recommend. On the other hand, since catfish are found all over the country, why not just pick a pretty area you want to go anyway, and make that your catfishing trip? I would recommend heading down south, or fishing in the tributaries of major rivers like the Mississippi, Missouri, or Red River of Oklahoma and Arkansas.

What Do You Want To Catch?

Another thing to consider when deciding where to go, is whether you want to catch a bunch of little fish, or a couple of big ones. This might also influence what gear you take. Certain parts of the country are known for having lakes and streams full of tiny catfish that you can catch lots of. In other places, there are giant cats prowling the river bottoms, and you might get lucky and snag one of them to take home. Fishing gear, method and location will be different depending on what you want to catch, so keep this in mind.

Where to Stay

Next, think about where you are going to stay. Most of us head out on fishing trips, especially long ones, in order to get away from the city, stress, hassles and everyday life. If that’s what you want, you might consider roughing it and camping out somewhere near the fishing spot. The only thing about that is it means taking camping gear too, which means more preparation. On the other hand, you can always stay in an RV or a lodge, sleep at night in some comfort and luxury, and head out to the remote areas to fish when you want to. I wouldn’t say that any way is better; it’s all up to the tastes of the angler. Just keep in mind that after all that time fishing, it might be nice to curl up in a nice warm bed!

Wherever you end up going, leave an itinerary with information giving your whereabouts with somebody. If you plan to explore, or you don’t know exactly where you’ll be, give them as detailed information as possible. Nowadays, we all have cell phones, and that helps keep you safe when you’re out in the wilds. Be sure to take your charger. But one warning: Don’t pick up the phone if it’s a work-related call!

Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is committed to providing the best catfish fishing information possible. Get more information on planning a catfish fishing trip here:

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