Where To Fish For Catfish In England

Welcome to the ultimate guide for all anglers aiming to reel in a big catfish catch in England! Catfish, known for their distinct whisker-like barbels and incredible size, are a popular target for many fishing enthusiasts.

England, with its vast network of rivers, lakes, and canals, is home to some truly fantastic catfish fishing spots.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner eager to make your first catch, this guide will provide you with insights into the best locations to fish for catfish in England. So grab your gear, prepare your bait, and let’s embark on an exciting journey to discover the hidden gems of English freshwater fishing.

Top Locations for Catfish Fishing in England

England is home to some of the best catfish fishing locations in the world. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced angler, there’s a spot that will cater to your fishing preferences and skill level. Here are some of the top places you should consider:

  1. River Ebro: Although it’s technically in Spain, the River Ebro is a popular destination for English anglers due to the prevalence of large catfish. The river is known for its Wels catfish, which can grow to impressive sizes. Patience and heavy tackle are key here, as these creatures put up quite a fight!
  2. The Norfolk Broads: This network of rivers and lakes in the east of England is a haven for catfish. The waters are rich in food sources, making it an ideal habitat for catfish. Night fishing is particularly productive here, as catfish tend to be more active after dark.
  3. The Fens: This natural marshy region in eastern England is a hot spot for catfish, particularly in the warmer months. The shallow, warm waters of the Fens provide perfect conditions for catfish to thrive.
  4. The Trent: One of the major rivers in England, the Trent is renowned for its catfish population. The stretches near Nottingham are particularly fruitful. Remember to check local regulations as some areas require special permits for night fishing.
  5. The River Wye: Situated on the border between England and Wales, the River Wye offers some fantastic opportunities for catfish fishing. The lower reaches of the river are particularly recommended for their abundant catfish population.

Rules and Regulations for Catfish Fishing in England

While fishing for catfish can be an exciting and rewarding experience, it’s important to adhere to the rules and regulations in place to ensure sustainable and responsible fishing. Here are some key points to remember:

  1. Necessary Permits and Licences: In England, you need a rod fishing licence to fish for coarse fish like catfish. Licences can be purchased from the Post Office or online via the Environment Agency website. If you’re fishing on private land, you may also need permission from the landowner.
  2. Catch and Release Policies: Many waters in England operate on a catch and release policy to help maintain fish populations. This means you must return any catfish you catch to the water unharmed. Always handle fish with wet hands to minimise damage to their protective slime layer, and use barbless hooks to make the release process easier.
  3. Local Regulations: Different waters may have additional rules regarding fishing methods, bait types, and fishing times. For instance, some waters prohibit night fishing or the use of certain types of bait. Always check the local regulations before you start fishing to ensure you’re compliant.

Remember, these rules and regulations are in place to protect our waterways and the species that inhabit them. By respecting these rules, you’re helping to ensure that future generations can enjoy the thrill of fishing for catfish just as much as you do.

Understanding Catfish

Before you start fishing for catfish, it’s important to understand a bit about these fascinating creatures. Catfish are a diverse group of ray-finned fish named for their prominent barbels, which resemble a cat’s whiskers. They can be found in freshwater environments of all kinds, from lakes and rivers to ponds and streams.

Catfish are known for their strong sense of smell, which they use to locate food. They’re mainly bottom dwellers and often feed at night, making night-time the most productive time for catfish fishing. However, they can also be active during cloudy or overcast days. For more in-depth information on catfish habits and behaviors, check out this Catfish Guide.

Essential Gear for Catfish Fishing

Fishing for catfish requires some specific gear to ensure a successful catch. Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Rod and Reel: A medium-heavy rod with a good backbone is ideal for catfish due to their size and strength. As for the reel, a baitcasting reel is a popular choice among catfish anglers.
  2. Line and Hooks: Catfish are strong fighters, so a high-quality, abrasion-resistant fishing line is a must. Circle hooks are commonly used for catfish as they hook the fish in the corner of the mouth, making catch and release easier.
  3. Bait: Catfish are not particularly fussy eaters. They’ll take live bait like worms or small fish, but they’re also attracted to pungent smells, so stink baits can be very effective.
  4. Other Equipment: Don’t forget a net for landing your catch, needle-nose pliers for removing hooks, and a good headlamp if you’re fishing at night.

Before you head out, make sure to check out this comprehensive Catfish Gear Guide for more tips on bait and tackle selection. Remember, the right gear can make a significant difference in your catfish fishing experience.

Tips and Techniques for Successful Catfish Fishing

Catching catfish requires understanding their behavior and employing the right techniques. Here are some tips to help you enjoy a successful fishing trip:

  1. Location is Key: Catfish prefer areas with plenty of cover, such as fallen trees or deep holes. They also tend to inhabit areas with current breaks, where they can rest and wait for food to come to them. Look for these types of features when choosing where to cast your line.
  2. Use the Right Bait: Catfish have an excellent sense of smell and are attracted to strong, pungent baits. Consider using stink baits or cut bait to attract them. Other effective baits include chicken livers, shrimp, worms, and dough balls with corn. Remember, the fresher the bait, the better.
  3. Choose the Correct Tackle: Good sharp hooks are critical as the mouth of a catfish is thick, tough, and packed with cartilage. A treble hook is often preferred by many catfish anglers. Use a big “egg weight” for bottom fishing, attach a swivel to the line, followed by a 3ft leader line.
  4. Fish at the Right Time: Catfish are most active during twilight and night hours, so plan your fishing trips accordingly. However, don’t limit yourself to these times only; catfish can be caught throughout the day.
  5. Use the Right Techniques: Still fishing and drift fishing are two classic tactics that bring in the most fish. When the fish steadily takes line, it’s hook-set time.

Avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Using Inappropriate Gear: Ensure your gear is sturdy enough to handle the size and strength of catfish.
  2. Ignoring Local Regulations: Always check and adhere to local fishing regulations to avoid fines and protect the fish population.

By following these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can increase your chances of having a successful catfish fishing experience.


Choosing the right location can significantly impact your catfish fishing experience. England offers a variety of excellent locations, each with unique opportunities and challenges. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, we encourage you to explore these waters and enjoy the thrill of fishing for catfish.

Frequently Asked Questions About Catfish Fishing in the UK

Where can I catch catfish in the UK?

There are numerous locations across the UK where you can catch catfish. Some of the best catfish lakes include Rush Lyvars Fishing Lake in Hull, Anglers Paradise in Beaworthy, Devon, and Todber Manor in Sturminster Newton, Dorset. For those looking for river fishing, the Vienne river is known to have a population of catfish.

Where is it best to fish for catfish?

The best locations to fish for catfish often depend on your preference for lake or river fishing. For lake fishing, venues like Rush Lyvars Fishing Lake in Hull and Oak Lakes Fisheries are highly recommended. If you prefer river fishing, the Vienne river has been mentioned as a good spot.

What time of year is best to fish for catfish in the UK?

While catfish can be caught year-round, they are most active during the warmer months, from late spring through early autumn. The exact timing can vary depending on the specific location and weather conditions.

Are catfish wild in the UK?

The Wels catfish is not native to the UK and is relatively rare in the wild. However, multiple attempts to introduce the species into various bodies of water have seen some success. That said, many of the catfish found in the UK are in stocked lakes and fisheries.

What equipment do I need to fish for catfish?

As catfish are generally larger and stronger than many other freshwater species, you’ll need sturdy, robust gear. A good sharp hook is essential due to the catfish’s thick, tough mouth. It’s also recommended to have a large landing net and mat to safely handle the catfish once caught.

What bait should I use for catfish?

Catfish have a keen sense of smell and are known to be attracted to strong, pungent baits. Options include stink baits, cut bait, chicken livers, shrimp, worms, and dough balls with corn.

Are there any special regulations for catfish fishing in the UK?

Always check and adhere to local fishing regulations before setting out. These can vary depending on the location and the specific body of water.