Ictalunis punctatus

No Finicky Eaters Here!


Channel catfish dine on many different food sources.  Adult channel catfish are omnivores, eating both plants and animals.  Some examples of sources of nutrition for catfish include:  insects (including mayfiles), mollusks (clams), annelids (earthworms), algae, crayfish, seeds, minnows and juvenile fish.  Also, to learn more about flathead minnows, click here!  Catfish diets do change slightly throughout the year.  For example, during the spring when insect hatches are most prevalent, a catfish's diet will consist mostly of insects, especially the mayfly.  To learn more about the mayfly, click here!Courtesy of WI DNR
One study conducted examined the stomach contents of channel catfish.  The scientists found the food sources mentioned above as well as snails, corn, rabbit, snake skin and chicken and bovine bones. 

Channel catfish feed mainly at night by actively searching for food by leaving its protected area and foraging the river bottoms.  They oftentimes enter backwaters searching for smaller fish and crayfish. 
It is not uncommon, however, for a catfish to feed during the day.  A catfish will not pass up an easy meal if one passes by its protective hiding area. 

If you plan on fishing for channel catfish, earthworms and crayfish are good sources of bait.  Other bait includes chicken livers, shads and minnows.  However, stink bait (also known as cheese bait) is the most well known bait for catching catfish.  It is called stink bait simply because it smells very badly.  The strong odor given off by the bait triggers the taste buds on the catfish, thus attracting it towards the fish hook.  When using stink bait, you want to be sure to use a rubber worm with a three pronged hook; simply coat the rubber worm with stink bait and cast it into the water. 


To learn more about earthworms click here!   This yellow rubber worm can be coated with stink bait.  Here is a picture of stink bait. Good thing it is not a scratch and sniff picture! 

The only aspect of the channel catfish you have yet to learn about is reproduction.  To learn more, click here!