How to Catch Blue Catfish from Shore | Rivers & Lakes

How to Catch Blue Catfish from Shore | Rivers & Lakes

How to catch blue catfish from shore. You can easily catch blue catfish from shore by using fresh bait, the right tackle, and choosing the correct spot. Many believe it is challenging to catch blue catfish from shore, but this is not the case.

Blue Catfish

The blue catfish is the largest catfish species in north America, and can grow to well over 100lbs.

This is probably the species you see most people fishing for in the eastern and southern part of the states. Due to their large size and lack of predators, these catfish get ungodly huge.

They usually live around 20 years and get anywhere from 2-5 feet long. Blue catfish eat just about anything, as they are opportunistic predators.

Anything from mussels, clams, baitfish, crayfish, and even other catfish. Blue catfish can be anywhere from silvery – white, to darker gray.

The only true way to identify a blue catfish is by its anal fin. 30-35 rays on the anal fin will indicate that it is a blue catfish.

This catfish is often considered quiet a nuisance, and is held responsible for the destruction of other species in their respective bodies of water.

Although many people cannot stand the blue catfish, they put up one heck of a fight, and are an absolute blast to catch!

Tackle for Blue Catfish

Alright your standard tackle for blue catfish should be based on the size of fish you should be targeting.

For blues, I like to always overestimate the size I will be catching, because it is very possible to hook into a monster.


For your fishing rod, bare minimum I would go with a medium heavy action. This way you will have some backbone to handle those powerful fish but, you will also have that sensitive tip for seeing bites.

Your rod length is based off of your own casting abilities, and also the area you will be fishing. From shore, you typically want to be able to cast out a bit further, so do not be afraid to go for the rods over 8 feet.

I personally like 10 ft rods, as it helps me blast my baits into the spots that are usually beyond casting distance.

If you are targeting specifically BIG catfish, than you may want to use heavy action rods. Medium heavy rods have little to no power when handling fish over 30lbs, so if you are fishing for those giants plan adequately.

Rods are made for the angler, so choose what you like. They are all virtually the same, but here are a few of my favorites.


Your reel is just important as your rod. I typically like reels that hold at least 200yds of line, in order to account for the snags and lost line during fishing.

I also look for reels that have good line pickup. Power handles can make a huge difference when fighting fish from shore. Instead of picking up a foot of line per crank, you can pick up 2-3ft of line per crank.

This can be very useful when you need to put the heat on the fish and avoid snags or rocks. Casting reels can typically get your baits out further, and spinning reels are easier to use.

It is all up to your personal preference when it comes to brands, but here are a few of my favorites.


For line I have a basic rule I go by. If using mono, no less than 17lb test and with braid, no less than 50lb test.

Of course this is tentative, and you should see what fits your reel the best. Also you should choose line based upon your location.

If you are fishing a very rocky area, you may want to use a mono rather than braid. Braid can nick very easily on rocks, and you can easily lose the fish of your life.

Braid is good to be used in areas where there are few rocks and snags. A muddy bottom lake or river would be a great place to use braid.

Like I said before, this can all change based on your conditions. If you are breaking off fish than upsize your line, if you are having trouble casting then you should maybe downsize your line a bit.


Your weight should be based on your topography of your river, and the speed of the current your fishing.

For a quick guide, pyramid sinkers work great in sand or mud, pencil sinkers work very well in rocks and trees, and bell sinkers are a great all around sinker for many conditions.

It is best to experiment with different styles and see what works for you on your body of water.

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Your hooks really depend on the size of baits your using, and the size of fish your targeting.

Some blue cats have small mouths and some have big mouths. For smaller sized blues 6ot is a good baseline to start with.

If you are targeting trophy blue catfish then 10-12 ot is preferred.  For blue catfish circle hooks are a must.

The bite style and mouth of the blue catfish is perfectly designed for circle hooks. Often times you will get fast hard pulling bites, so you need a circle hook to get those fish.

As far as brand, a few of my favorites are team catfish, gamakatsu, and mustad.

Also to note, hook sizes vary brand by brand, so see what the dimensions are before buying.

Rigs for Catfish

There are a few rigs you can use for catching blue catfish. The most common are the Carolina rig, 3 way rig, and the santee cooper rig.

The Carolina Rig

This rig is probably the most standard kind of rig for not just catfish, but many other fish species.

It simply consists of a sliding weight, swivel, and your leader. This rig is usually used for slower moving rivers and lakes.

It does tangle relatively easy in fast current, so it is best to use it in slower bodies of water.

This rig helps allow the fish to pull line freely if you wanted to use the bait feeding option on your reel.

3 Way Rig

The 3 way rig is another great rig for catfish. It consists of a 3 way swivel with a leader on one end, and a piece of line with your weight on the bottom.

The weight it typically tied with a lighter pound test just in case the weight gets snagged. It is most often used in faster current bodies of water due to its ability to avoid tangling.

This rig can also be casted further because it does not slide up or down your line.

I like this rig for live bait fishing, and fishing in areas where there are a lot of snags.

Santee Cooper Rig

This rig is tied exactly like a Carolina rig except, there is a float attached to the leader to keep your bait off the bottom.

This rig is great for keeping your bait out of the muddy bottom. On day where the fish seem to be a bit higher off the bottom, the santee cooper rig can be very effective for catching catfish.

You can use it with live or dead bait as it works well for both.

For more on catfish rigs check this out.


Bait can be a somewhat controversial topic, but there are a few baits that have been tried and true in locations all over the US.

The top 2 baits for blue catfish would have to be shad and jello garlic chicken.

You do not have to use these baits, as blue catfish eat anything from mackerel, mullet, carp, white perch, sunfish, etc…

The best bait is the one that is working for you in your location. Do not worry too much about what other people are doing, because it could be a different result for you.

When I use pieces of bait, I am sure to make sure it isn’t too big for my hook, and I make sure my hook point is exposed.

Your hook does you no good if it is buried in your bait, so make sure it is in position to get a good hookset.

Areas to Target


Lakes can hold a great amount of spots for blue catfish even from shore. Some popular spots are coves, windy banks, points, and also deep holes.

Typically when you find a spot on the shore where the wind is blowing straight into you, this is a great area to fish.

The wind has a habit of blowing baitfish and other nutrients into the shoreline, attracting catfish.

Points can be good areas for casting into deep water. On the days where it is tough in shallow water, target the points to help you get baits deeper.

Coves are a natural attractant for fish. The smaller baitfish often congregate in these coves which in turn attracts the catfish.

Anywhere from the very back of the cove, all the way up to the mouth of the cove can be great areas to target for blue catfish.

A tip when casting baits out, I try to put one very shallow, one at medium depth and one at a deep depth.

This will help you get a feel of where the fish are at in order to help you maximize your catches.


Rivers are a great place to target blue catfish. They fight much harder than in lakes, and you can find them in a variety of spots.

For rivers you want to target the deep holes, river mouths, structure and eddies.

The deep holes are most effective in the winter time, as the catfish will congregate in the deepest parts of the river.

Catfish can often be predictable during this time, so you need to plan adequately. River mouths are a fish highway for many species of fish.

The high population of fish in these areas attract catfish. Usually where the bait is plentiful is where the catfish go.

Any kind of structure is a great place to target blue catfish especially in the warmer months. Anything from barges, piers, rocks, and also sunken logs are great areas to find catfish.

Current breaks are always a great bet for many different species of fish, so blue catfish are no acceptation.

Blue catfish wait in the current breaks for food drifting by, and ambush baitfish and anything else that is in striking range.

I often put baits in the eddies, and just beyond the eddies. This helps get a good spread of baits in different locations.

For more on River fishing for catfish from shore, click here.


Blue catfish are just as catchable from shore as they are in the boat. It is important you explore your own body of water and see what works for you.

Trial and error is ultimately the best option to learn how to catch these fish!

Be sure and stay tuned into my youtube channel to stay up to date on my fishing adventures!

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