Kayak Catfishing: A Thrilling Adventure on the Water

Are you looking for a thrilling and easy way to catch catfish? Look no further than kayak catfishing! This exciting method has gained popularity in recent years, offering a unique and exhilarating fishing experience.

The Stick Bobber Technique

One of the most exciting methods for catching channel catfish is the stick bobber technique with punch bait. Unlike traditional baits, punch bait is cheese-based and made with cattails, providing a strong adhesive quality. This means you can fish in water with current without worrying about your bait falling off the hook.

The punch bait quickly permeates the water, attracting hungry catfish with its irresistible scent. The best part? You don’t even have to touch it with your hands, hence the name “punch bait.”

catfishing from a kayak

Essential Gear for Kayak Catfishing

When it comes to gear, you don’t need much to get started with kayak catfishing. A sturdy kayak, rods and reels capable of handling 30-50 pound braid and 20-30 pound fish, some terminal tackle, quality punch bait, and a reliable life jacket are all you need for a successful catfishing adventure.

The Kayak

Choosing the right kayak is crucial for a successful catfishing trip. Opt for a stable fishing kayak with a pontoon-style hull that offers plenty of room to land those feisty catfish. Popular options include the Ascend 128X Sit-on-Top Kayak or The Wilderness Systems Recon 120, which provides a generous width of 38 inches. Additionally, a high-quality paddle like the Bending Branches “Angler Drift” will help you reach your favorite catfish spots effortlessly.

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Rods and Reels

A medium/heavy spinning outfit is perfect for kayak catfishing. Choose a rod between 6 to 7 feet long, or consider a longer rod in the 9 to 10-foot range specifically designed for the stick bobber technique. Pair your rod with a medium-sized spinning reel equipped with 30 to 50-pound braid for optimal performance. Select a leader between 20-50 pound test, depending on your fishing location.

Terminal Tackle

For terminal tackle, keep it simple with a treble hook, barrel swivel, bead, and bobber stopper to complement the stick bobber. Here are our quick recommendations for terminal tackle:

  • Treble Hooks: No. 4 to 6
  • Barrel Swivel: No. 5 to 10
  • Plastic Bead
  • Thread-style Bobber Stopper

CJ's Stick Bobber

Rigging the Catfish Bobber Rig

To create the perfect rig, start by placing a bobber stopper on your main line. Thread a bead followed by your chosen stick bobber. Add a barrel-style 3/8 ounce sinker with a bead below it to protect your knot. Attach the main line to a barrel swivel using a Palomar knot, then tie your leader to the other end of the barrel swivel. The length of your leader will depend on the water depth you’re fishing in, ranging from 12 to 36 inches. Finally, tie a treble hook to your leader using a Palomar knot, and you’re all set to catch catfish!

For more productive catfish rigs, check here.

The Best Bait for Catfish Punch Rigs

If you’re wondering about the best bait for your punch rigs, look no further than punch bait itself. You can find a wide variety of punch baits in most big retailer stores or order them online. CJ’s Punch Bait offers five different flavors, including Shad, Monster, Crawdad, Minnow, and Wild Hopper. Choose from small 14-ounce containers to massive 30-pound buckets of pre-made bait, ensuring you have enough to entice those hungry catfish.

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Baiting Your Hook

Baiting your hook with punch bait requires some skill. Ensure your punch bait is thawed but not too mushy from the heat. Refrigerating or even freezing the bait when not in use can help maintain its consistency. Using a stick or prong, push the treble hook into the bait, angling it to catch on the barbs as you pull it out. You should have a nice glob of bait on the hook without the need to ball it up. The bait will emit its enticing scent into the surrounding water, attracting catfish to your location. Don’t worry about casting far; with kayak catfishing, you’re often right on top of your target area.

A Word on Safety

Safety is paramount when kayak catfishing. Always wear a Coast Guard-approved kayak life jacket and carry a whistle for emergencies. Additionally, having a set of good quality needle-nose pliers and a net can make it easier to handle and release fish safely. Consider wearing gloves to protect your hands from getting roughed up during the process. If you’re fishing at night, a headlamp and a legal 360-degree white light are essential. Explore our list of the best kayak fishing accessories that can enhance your safety and overall experience.

catfish fishing safety

Prime Locations and Times for Kayak Catfish

For the best chance of hooking a catfish, focus on shallow backwaters, laydowns, brush piles, and rip rap. Slow-moving streams and rivers are also promising spots for kayak catfishing. While many anglers believe that night fishing produces the best results, you can catch catfish at any time of the day. Keep an eye on the weather, as it can significantly impact their feeding habits. Setting your bait just off the bottom will yield the best results, and remember, catfish are active all year long.

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catfishing in a kayak at night

Anchoring Your Kayak for Stability

Using an anchor can help keep your kayak in a stable position while catfishing. Consider clamping together a series of chains for a slight drag in a breeze. In rough water, create a “quick-release” anchor with a float at the end of the rope. Installing an “anchor trolley” is also a great option, allowing you to easily adjust your position while fishing. If you find a nearby branch, use a pair of fish grips with a leash to secure your kayak. Alternatively, a plastic jar filled with small rocks can extend your kayak out into the water from the shoreline.

anchoring up for kayak catfishing

Preparing for the Hook-Up and Fight

Before hooking a catfish, ensure your drag is appropriately set based on your fishing scenario. If you’re fishing near timber, avoid letting the catfish make a big run, as it may wrap around a submerged branch and escape. Apply steady pressure to tire out the fish before attempting to land it.

Hooking and landing a catfish in a kayak can be a bit challenging, especially without a net. However, it adds another layer of excitement to the experience. Consider investing in a net for easier and safer fish landing. The beauty of kayak catfishing lies in its versatility and creativity. Using punch bait and employing different techniques allows you to have a lot of fun and make the most of your day on the water.

Lots of Fun catfishing in a kayak

Enjoy the adventure of kayak catfishing, and remember to stay safe on the water!

For high-quality kayaks and fishing gear, visit UpStreamPaddle.