When Do Catfish Eat?

If you want to catch catfish in the wild, you need to know when they eat to time your next angling trip accordingly. You must be wondering, do catfish even have a schedule like humans when they eat their meals? Unlike humans, catfish eat all day whenever they can find food. However, there are times when they are more active and search for food more. This does not mean that they will not eat when they find food sitting right in front of them.

Time to Eat

What is the Time When Catfish Eat Most?

To understand the diet of catfish, you first need to know that the fish will eat whenever it gets hungry, which is anytime, but the feeding pattern also depends on other factors like the season and weather. The time of day does not matter as much, but some people prefer night fishing for catfish, and we will explore why that is.

Here is how the season affects when the catfish are most active and will come out to eat the bait you provide.


During summer, the catfish are the most active all throughout the day. This is because when the water temperature increases, the fish’s metabolism increases, and it gets hungry more often.

However, if the water temperature gets hotter than they prefer, the catfish might hide in deeper water where it is cooler. If it became too hot it would be a problem for a catfish.

Depending on the temperature of the day, the catfish might be active in the middle of the day or in the evening when it gets cooler, and the fish wants to hunt some bluegill, perch, and shad. Evening fishing is also better during the summer because it is cool and nice at that time of the day.

Autumn and spring

Earlier in the autumn season catfish are much more active because they are preparing for winter. As it gets cooler, the catfish will start being less active. In spring, at the beginning of the season, the catfish will be less active, but as the temperature gets warmer, they will start getting out more.

Spring and autumn are pretty similar when it comes to fishing for catfish. In autumn, you can fish for catfish in the middle of the day when the temperature of the water is warm and perfect for catfish. In spring, as soon as the temperature starts getting warmer, the catfish will be very hungry because it does not get as much food throughout the winter. So, in autumn and spring, going in the middle of the day to fish for catfish is best because, at that time, the fish will be actively searching for food and will take the bait more readily.


In winter, it is the most complicated to fish for catfish, but some anglers love to set up a rod and reel for catfish in winter. During the winter, the catfish eat much less compared to other seasons because they go into a semi-hibernation mode where they do not use their energy.

This is also because, as the temperature drops towards freezing, their metabolism becomes much slower, so they do not need as much food and are not as active either. During winter, the catfish will form a huddle with many other catfish and hide in a cave or some other hiding place to stay warm, but this also means that any food that they get, they will gladly take.

During this time, if you find their hiding spot, it will be a jackpot because you will find hundreds of catfish in one spot. However, this isn’t easy, and your best chance of catching catfish is in the middle of the day when it is warmest. This is when the catfish is most likely to come out of hiding and look for food.

Should You Fish at Night?

A lot of catfish anglers swear by fishing at night. They claim it is the best time of the day to catch catfish. While it does work for some people, it also depends on many other factors. There are many pros and cons of fishing for catfish at night. Catfish are not active only at night, that is for sure. When people say that catfish only eat at night, it is just a myth and not the truth at all.

Advantages of fishing at night

Catfish depend on their whiskers, or barbels, to search for food, so even at night, they can search for food. They do not need light to look for food. In fact, at night, they have a bigger advantage over predators, as they will not be able to locate the catfish. This means that the fish will likely move around during the night more which will not stay hidden waiting for food to arrive.

When this happens, it means the catfish is most likely to come across your bait. There is also the fact that it might be easier for you to catch catfish at night as it is much cooler at that time, especially in the summer. As a result, throughout the night and one or two hours after sunset are ideal times to catch fish. At this time, you will not have any competition as there are very few boats and people around to make noise and startle the fish.

The disadvantage of fishing at night

Night fishing also comes with its disadvantages, such as the fact that it will be harder for you to navigate the boat. In fact, fishing in complete darkness is much harder than in light. As the water becomes lighter, you can see where most of the fish are swimming and lay the bait accordingly. You will have to fight off bugs at night and general discomfort. Only experienced anglers make night fishing bearable and productive.


There is no particular time of day when catfish eat. Their feeding habits change from season to season. The catfish is ready to eat at all times of the day and night.

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