What Time of Year do Catfish Spawn?

What Time of Year do Catfish Spawn?

What time of the year do catfish spawn? Catfish usually spawn in the late spring to early summer timeframe. When the water temp reaches the high 60s all the way to the 80s, catfish will start to spawn. Although, if the water temp changes and drops below the high 60s, catfish will “pause” their spawning habits, and resume when the water temp is adequate for spawning again.

Do Catfish Feed During the Spawn?

Catfish do not actively feed during the spawn. The fish are too focused on protecting the nest of the female, they will go a few weeks without eating.

However, catfish are unique, so not all of them spawn at the same time. During the period of the spawn, you should be able to fish pre or post spawn catfish that are actively feeding.

The fish that are feeding will likely be very aggressive. The heat, and weeks without food would make any of us upset. After the spawn ends, catfish will be in full feed mode.

They are eager to get food back in their systems, and get back to regular feeding habits. You can often find one of the hottest bites of the year right after the spawn.

Can You Catch Catfish During the Spawn?

The short answer is yes. You can catch catfish during the spawn. Not all catfish spawn at the same time, which is something unique about catfish.


There will be pre spawn, post spawn, and spawning fish in the river system. Some will be feeding, and some not. You will likely see a decrease in bites and overall activity from catfish during the spawn.

The population of fish you would usually target will be broken up with spawning fish, which do not eat. When the spawn begins, the female will deposit the eggs somewhere safe, behind a log, in a hole, behind a rock, etc…

The male is then responsible for guarding the nest, so the eggs don’t get eaten. During this time the males do not eat. This is why you often catch a lot of “skinny” looking fish during the spawn.

After the female deposits her eggs, she will go off to recover from the strains of the spawn. After the male leaves the nest, he will start feeding more, and will be very active in searching for food.

This is why post spawn fish tend to gorge and get huge.

Are Catfish More Aggressive During the Spawn?

Yes. Catfish are a bit more aggressive during the spawn. The rising water temperatures, combined with not eating, and the tedious work of guarding the nest are all Factors that contribute to aggression.

Catfish are predators, so when you add the spawn into the mix, they are just plain out mean. Bass fisherman often catch catfish on artificial baits during this time of year.

The fish are so aggressive that they pretty much swipe at anything that passes in front of them. The natural instinct of a catfish is to protect the nest at all costs.

They don’t care how big or how aggressive any other fish are. They are going to stand their ground and fight back.

What’s the Best Bait for Catfish During the Spawn?

There really is not a specific bait you should be using during the spawn. You should just stick to the bait fish that is in your river at the time.

I know during the spring, a lot of shad are running up the rivers. During this time, shad would be the only bait that I use. You want to match the hatch as closely as possible.

That fresh scent of shad that is already plentiful in the river system, will only lead more fish to bite your bait. Also if you wanted to get a little crafty, you could throw crank baits and see if you can get some catfish that way.

Like I said before, catfish get very aggressive during the spawn, so your chances of catching fish on lures goes up exponentially. This is also a good way to have fun, and try a new method for catfishing.

Take advantage of that aggression, and catch some fish on the crank baits.

Where Should You Fish During the Spawn?

During the spawn, the catfish tend to migrate to shallower waters. Creeks, small rivers, and shallow flats are all great areas to target catfish during the spawn.

I personally love flooded creek fishing, as I have found a lot of fish stacked up in one area plenty of times. The fish seem to fight a bit harder than they usually do. They are fired up from the spawn.


Current breaks are another solid choice to drop a bait. Catfish will wait to ambush any and all baitfish that swim by.

It is also important to move relatively often during the spawn as well. If you spend 25-30 minutes in a spot with no action, it is best to start walking down the bank to see what else you can find.

The catfish likely will not be moving around too much, because they are sitting on a nest or recovering from spawning.

Do not limit yourself. Go explore those shallow spots, and see if you can find yourself a good bite.

How Long Does the Spawn Last?

The catfish spawn individually, and at all different times. Usually, It takes 6-10 days for fry to hatch, and the catfish will be on the nest until the fry leave.

Just to be safe, you can give it about 2 weeks and the spawn should be done. Most of the time it is pretty quick, and the fish will be back to their normal feeding habits.

However, if the water temperature goes down to uncomfortable temperatures, the spawn will pause. When it goes back up, it will resume.

Although it is not common for cold front to move through in the summer time, this does happen from time to time. The water temperature needs to sustain high 60s to low 80s from start to finish.

Catfishing After the Spawn

Catfishing after the spawn can be one of the best times to catch catfish. The fish are finally able to eat again, so they will be feeding heavily.

This is probably the craziest time of the year. Bites can be non stop, with catfish that are trying to feed up and get back to normal size. The fish are still hot and annoyed, but now they are hungry too.

The type of bites I usually get in the late summer are insane. Hard and fast aggressive runs from catfish are not uncommon. Live bait is a very fun way to catch fish this time of year.

Bluegill, perch, sunfish, it does not really matter. These fish will be eating just about everything. If you have never tried experimenting with live bait before, this is the time of year you should give it a try.

If you are not sure how to use live bait, then check this out. It is a basic guide to help you choose a live bait and rig it correctly.


Catfishing the spawn can be very frustrating, yet very rewarding. It is tricky to figure fish out when they are seemingly not eating.

You just have to stay positive, move often, and target the right areas!

I hope you all learned some valuable information.

Be sure and stay tuned into my Youtube Channel for all of my adventures!

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