As big boat catfish anglers make the switch to kayaks, they find an economical and exciting way to catch the whisker fish. Catfish can be the easiest fish in the water to catch if you put in the time to learn. Using a kayak gives me access to fishing spots that big boats can’t reach and I can still fish the same waters they do.
There are plenty of kayaks on the market, so find one that is comfortable and stable for your size and build. Personally, I put all my trust in my Native Slayer.
An important skill for catching big catfish is being able to read the body of water you are fishing. Start by studying the bait that swims where you are fishing and focus on structure. I focus hard on areas that look “fishy” before I even trust the fish finder. Learning the structure of the land around the water can help you even if you don’t use a fish finder.
I locate fish by starting with smaller cuts of bait and then move up to larger cuts to find the big cats. When the water is colder, I like to use big cut perch or gizzard shad in deep water. In the summer months, I focus on shallower water with fresh live bait.
Hook size and style is important for catching trophy cats. Use an 8/0 to 10/0 offset circle hook when you are targeting the big ones. They have a great hookup ratio and take less effort to set the hook.
Finally, rule number one in kayak fishing is safety! No matter how much time you spend on the water wear a life vest at all times. The NRS Chinook is my vest of choice. It is super comfy and doesn’t bind while paddling. Safety is important because we all have someone to go home too.
Editor’s Note: Jesse O’Neal has been fishing from a kayak for more than a decade. He competes regularly in kayak catfish tournaments. You can keep up with him through his personal page and Team Catnippers on Facebook and Instagram. You will find fishing tips, kayak setup tips, and photos of big catfish caught from kayaks.