When Do Catfish Go On The Nest? Key Facts You Need to Understand

When do catfish go on the nest?

This is a question many anglers ask, yet are not quite sure of.

You see, game fish are not always easy to catch… Especially catfish. This is why you need to know exactly the time they go on the nest and spawn.

If you are looking to catch this type of fish, listen up. You may just get yourself a better chance at scoring big on this game!

So keep reading to learn more about when this fish species go on the nest. This way, you can reduce missed opportunities and get that fish!

Spawning Basics – Why It Matters

The spawning season is the best time for an abundant catch.

But this is not always the case with catfish. In fact, they can be quite hard to catch.

For instance, they can be quite unpredictable. They tend to hide on their nests and stay there for a while. This is why a better understanding of their spawning time is important. By doing so, you can capture this fish easily.

Now, most catfish species tend to spawn during summer or spring. It happens when the water gets warmer. Blue catfish, as an example, spawn at a water temperature of 70 degrees up to 84 degrees. Their most preferred, however, is 81 degrees.

But as for flathead catfish, they prefer to spawn during the mid-60s to 70s.

And this is only half of the story. Spawning occurs at varied times in multiple latitudes – from south to the north!

Another thing to note about spawning is the body of water where it happens. The time or season varies depending on the water body. For instance, catfish spawns earlier in the headwaters of a larger lake.


It is because small streams and creeks become warmer first. The shallow depth is the primary reason behind this. Eventually, larger streams warm up.

This is why headwater attracts catfish during the early spawning season. If you are aware of this, you will rush to the headwaters for the best catfish you can catch!

All About Nesting

All About Nesting

Catfish are big cavity nesters.

An example is a blue catfish. This specie, for instance, deposits eggs in root wads, undercut banks, and between rocks. They search for locations that are safe from a strong current.

But as for flatheads, the case is much different. They usually prefer to nest at hollow logs. They also like to head over to metal drums and similar man-made structures. Root masses and clay banks with excavated caves are also prime choices by this type of catfish.

With channel catfish, they like anything that is dark and secluded. They would usually look for crevices and hollow portions of woody debris, as well as spaces under and between rocks. They may also head over to burrows in banks because of how dark these areas are.

When catfish spawn, the male chooses the nest site, initially. Then, he looks for a sexually mature female to join him there. When this happens, the female starts to lay her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female leaves and the male stays on duty to guard the eggs.

His goal is to protect these eggs and the nest from predators. He also fans these sticky eggs with fins and eliminates any sediments. In about 6 days up to 10 days, the eggs will start to hatch. The actual time they hatch depends on the water temperature.

After this, there is a big school of fry that linger around the nest. It usually takes a few days before they disperse. But the male fish keeps on guard until all of the fry leave.

Read more: How To Tell If A Catfish Is Pregnant

What You Should Know about Fishing During Spawning Season

Now here’s another thing you need to know. The spawning season does not need to be tough for every angler.

But it can be tricky.

For example, male catfish tend to eat much less when spawning. They want to guard the nest, and this is much more important to them at this point. Eating is only secondary to them.

But after a few days, the spawn should be over. This is why you should find it easier to catch fish once again.

In case you don’t find many catfish, you may want to wait a few more days. Let the peak of spawning pass. Thus, you should be able to find more male catfish and increase your chances of a good catch.

Want to learn more tips? Here’s a quick video on tips to help you catch catfish during the spawning season fast and easy:

When Do Catfish Go On the Nest? Additional Tips You Need to Know

If you found out that catfishing is still below average, you should change your location. Go to an area that you have not been to before. If you have been angling in the lake’s major portion, why not check a flatwater instead?

You may have better luck at a different spot where catfish have migrated to.

This is also the same story when catfishing in rivers. Generally, catfish may go to a smaller creek and stream to spawn. They do not stay much in a larger body of water. So, you have to keep that in mind as an angler.

Lastly, catfish have a tendency to ambush their prey from holes or humps or even trees. You may want to cast your rigs toward upstream and just let it drift past these target areas.


Overall, catfishing can be frustrating when they go on their nest. Nevertheless, some diligence and smart techniques are just what you need to gain better chances of a catch. Be sure to apply these tips and knowledge next time you go fishing for greater success!

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