Missouri is home to many different types of catfish, including blue, channel and flathead. The Missouri River isn't limited to just Missouri, however; this large river spans across multiple states, including Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana. Though many Missouri River basin lakes and ponds boast varying catfish populations, only the Missouri River itself can lay claim to having produced the Missouri state-record blue catfish. Catfish populations vary depending on seasons and state, but can be found anywhere within the Missouri River.
Determine which state in the Missouri River basin you want to fish, then purchase a fishing license in that state. You can purchase a normal fishing license in your home state, but must purchase a nonresident license in any other state. A nonresident fishing license usually has strict catch limitations and may only be valid for a few days a year. You must provide your driver's license or state identification card to purchase a fishing license.
Find a local catfishing spot in the area where you plan to fish. Visit local fishing shops and ask the local fishermen about ideal fishing locations and what they recommend. Visit online fishing forums that pertain to the Missouri River and ask for guidance from those familiar with the area. Make sure boating is available if you plan to boat, and ask about trotlines or any other fishing method you plan to use.
Drive to the location and set up your fishing station. Fill a cooler with ice if you plan to keep your catch. Either place your equipment into your boat for on-water fishing or lay out your gear near the shore for shoreline fishing.
Put an appropriately sized hook on your fishing pole; hook size depends on the typical catfish size in your location and what you wish to catch. Smaller hooks, such as a "1," can be used for smaller catfish, while very large hooks, such as a "1/0," can be used for catching monstrous catfish.
Place a chum bait ball onto your hook. Chum is a smelly substance composed of fish guts, maggots, pet food and other odoriferous ingredients. Catfish are attracted to pungent odors. You can use chicken livers and bait dipped in herring oil instead of chum if necessary. Add a bobber to your line, then cast it.
Let the line sit in the Missouri River for awhile. Experiment with increasing or decreasing your hook's depth if nothing bites. Try moving to a different location or casting into deeper water, which is cooler and may harbor larger catfish. Switch to a different bait if nothing bites. Commercial catfish bait may be necessary in stubborn or picky catfish populations.
Reel in the catfish. Remove the hook using a multitool, then either gently release the fish if you don't want to keep it or place it in a cooler with ice to preserve it.
Tips & Warnings
- Most states have daily catfish limitations and minimum size requirements. Consult with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for specific information.