How to Fish for Wels Catfish

by Richard Toole

Wels catfish is a freshwater species found in the muddy waters of lakes and slow-moving streams throughout much of Europe. Wels catfish look very different than other species of catfish -- they have a long, scaleless body, resembling a large eel with a large head and jaws. The fish typically has a dark green body color, with yellow or cream-colored sides. Wels catfish can grow up to 10 ft. in length and weigh up to 330 lbs.

Items you will need

  • Heavy fishing line
  • Hook
  • Sinker
  • Bait (oily fish, such as mackerel or herring)
  • Knife
Step 1

Load your fishing reel with heavy fishing line. Wels catfish can weigh over 300 lbs., and you should use at least 80 lb.- to 100 lb.-test line when fishing for them. The heavier-strength line will also be less likely to break when reeled through the cluttered, jagged areas that the catfish prefer.

Step 2

Search for a suitable location. Look for dark, quiet areas in the water, such as beds of vegetation. Shady areas provided by low-overhanging tree limbs and areas where trees have fallen in the water are also good places to find Wels catfish.

Step 3

Obtain your bait. Wels catfish are not terribly picky eaters, but a good oily fish bait, such as herring or mackerel, is popular among anglers. The oil in these fish leaves more scent in the water and is likely to attract more catfish.

Step 4

Cut your bait into quarter-size chunks. Poke the hook through the bait, then fold the bait over the hook as many times as you can so that it will not fall off the hook easily.

Step 5

Place a sinker on the end of your line. You want your bait to rest on the bottom of the lake or stream after you cast. Wels catfish are bottom feeders and are likely to miss your bait if it is floating too high above the bottom.

Step 6

Cast your line and let the bait sit on the bottom. Once your line begins to tense up, in a tapping motion, you have a fish nibbling on your bait, and you should set the hook.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wels catfish have been known to attack humans, especially during late spring, during their mating season. Use extreme caution if you have to wade into the water to retrieve a fish on your line.