Try Catfish fishing in Minnesota, a prime destination

By C.B. Bylander

Jul 09, 2018

Minnesota has many unique opportunities for catfish fishing throughout the year and across the state. Many Minnesota rivers are excellent for catfish fishing. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has many resources to select your next fishing spot.

Are you up for something different? Then give fishing in Minnesota for catfish a try. Minnesota’s channel and flathead catfish grow big, fight hard and can be excellent table fare.

Many great catfish destinations exist throughout Minnesota, and the Red River of North is truly a national treasure. The Red is one of America’s premier channel catfish angling destination because of its abundance of 20-pounders and the occasional giant that grows up to 30 pounds.


Similarly, the southwest’s Minnesota River offers excellent fishing for trophy flathead catfish. And the Minneapolis-St. Paul area has fine fishing for “cats” too. The Metro Region’s Mississippi and St. Croix rivers are popular catfish destinations, as are many metro lakes stocked with channel catfish.

A couple things to know about catfish. Minnesota’s flathead catfish live in the southern part of the state, largely in the Mississippi River below the Coon Rapids dam, the St. Croix River below Taylors Falls and the Minnesota River. The state record is a 70 pounds.  The channel catfish’s distribution is far more widespread. Its state record is 38 pounds.

Places to fish in Minnesota

A good place to start on the St. Croix River is near the town of Stillwater. Fifteen-pound flatheads are relatively common in this area. Similarly, Pool 2 of the Mississippi River – that portion between the dams at St. Paul and Hastings – is a good bet. In the northwest, there’s good fishing on the Red River at East Grand Forks, downtown Fargo-Moorhead, and upstream of Fargo near the Christine and Hickson dams. In the southwest, flatheads exist only below the Minnesota River Granite Falls dam. July and August are perhaps the best months to fish for trophy flatheads because they have just completed spawning. Most flathead fishing occurs at night and is done near timber snags.  A good place to catch one- to two-pound eating-sized channel catfish is upstream of Montevideo. To find more places to fish and boat use our interactive map


A common catfish rig is a sturdy rod-and-reel loaded with 15- to 20-pound test line. Thread the line through a one-ounce egg sinker. Next, tie a barrel swivel to the line. Now, tie about two feet of heavy monofilament or fluorocarbon line to the other end of the swivel.  Finish the job with by tying a 4/0 hook to the other end. Bait the hook with a nightcrawler or cut chunks of minnow or other legal bait.

For season and limit information consult MN fishing regulations.

C.B. Bylander
C.B. Bylander
C.B. Bylander is a long-time Minnesota angler who has extensive fishing experience throughout the state. He is a former outdoor magazine field editor, daily newspaper outdoor editor and Department of Natural Resources fisheries communication specialist.