How the Catfish Spawn Works

Where Do Catfish Spawn?

Super Size That for You?
In the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay system, channel catfish will spawn between 2,000 to 21,000 eggs. The spawn is smaller for white catfish, which share nest-guarding duties, reaching only 1,000 to 4,000 eggs. [source: Maryland Fish Facts]

Where would you go for some i­ntimate space? If you were a catfish, you'd nest in a secluded, dark cavity. Think of spaces under and between stones or heaps of debris from overhanging woods. Some fish will even choose places left by humans such as metal drums, old tires or bodies of submerged automobiles. Caves or burrows in clay banks, banks that have been undercut, crevices and hollow logs are all inviting. [source: Sutton]

If the fish aren't biting in your usual spots in the main part of a river or lake, consider moving to narrower or shallower waters. During spawning season, catfish will migrate into tributaries, which grow warm faster than the larger body of water. Tributary mouths are key locations, because catfish ready to spawn use it as a staging area. If you settle in just upstream of these places, you may be able to catch some of the catfish that waiting to ambush prey of their own from behind shelters that provide breaks in the current. [source: Sutton]

Another prime spot to try would be downstream from dams constructed on large rivers. Catfish that find their usual spawning migration routes blocked will use the dam areas as very convenient alternatives. Those tailwaters are well stocked with an abundance of food favored by catfish. Check out the water that moves more slowly between the open gates of the dam. [source: Sutton]

Some species will spawn twice in one season. After they leave the nest, the fry will stick together in compact schools until they can find a place that offers suitable cover. They will disperse and feed at night. [source: Maryland Fish Facts]

Now that you know where to find catfish during the spawn, let's take a look at how to go about actually catching them.