Catfish are one of the largest types of fish found on Earth, and they are very widely distributed. However, it is only within the last few decades that catfish have been introduced into the UK. Moreover, the catfish that now inhabit a few hundred lakes and streams in Wales and England have only reached large enough size in recent years to provide a real incentive for anglers to specialize in cat fishing.
Known to reach hundreds of pounds in North America, Spain and France, there are several species of catfish that have attained respectable weights of 50 or even 60 pounds (23-27kg). Catfish are mainly active at night and as such, are almost always fished for in the dark. Most record catfish are caught between midnight and 3am. They tend to feed on the bottom and have a very keen sense of smell, as their tiny eyes and penchant for murky waters would suggest.
The tackle that is required when cat fishing should be somewhat heftier than normal. Rods are usually at least 10 feet (3m) long are considered best, as they allow for a long cast and are capable of standing up to quite a bit of pulling by both the fish and deep snags. Most catfish anglers use either 15 or 20 pound test line in rather long reels, with 200 yard spools being common.
There are probably plenty of things in your kitchen that can be used as cat fishing bait. Liver and squid are, perhaps, the most common type of bait used, but some of the largest cats caught in the UK have been landed on lunch meat and other cut up old bits of red meat and fish. They happily will clean up any bits of river carrion, though their favourite food of choice seems to vary from month to month, depending upon the temperature of the water. It pays to be flexible if a tried and true bait seems to fail you on a given expedition.
Since catfish usually stick close to the bottom, anglers will want to look for some of the water features, snags and deep holes that might be of interest to an eel. They have very similar habitats and seem to move in a somewhat predictable manner over the "ground" features underwater.
If you're in a boat, the use of ground radar can be very helpful in determining where these features are, especially in the dark. while it is possible to catch catfish from the bank, boats are generally considered the best way to approach cat fishing.