Shrimp and cut bait release smells, blood and oils that attract catfish. Remain near shallow waters and cast your line deep with favorites such as mullet, bluefish and menhaden attached to your hook. The innards and scrapes of previously gutted fish also work well as bait. Special hooks and reels are not necessary, but you must cast your line as close to the bottom of the ocean as possible. Catfish are blind, so use bait that is dead so these scavengers can find it easily.
Reel and Hook
Use a sharp hook on any size reel. Medium-size circle hooks are ideal, but sharpness will best determine how easily the hook pierces the catfish's slippery mouth. The hook should be sharp but not to a point. You don't want the hook to slice the fish's mouth, allowing it to escape in the process. Instead, it should hook into a recess at the rear of the lower or upper jaw. Add a small sinker (1 ounce should suffice) to your line to indicate activity. If the tides are not low, opt for a heavier pyramid storm sinker. Allow your line to remain still until you see movement from the sinker. Wait until the sinker is completely submerged for a second or two and then reel the line out of the water and unhook your catfish.
Use a sharp fillet knife to cut your catfish. It must be sharper than a razor. To properly skin a catfish, you must first locate the fish's Adipose Fin, which is located at the rear of the fish, near the tail. Cut from the Adipose Fin all the way to the head of the fish, just behind the fish's head. Bend the fish's head until you break the backbone of the catfish. Maintain a strong hold of the fish's body as you peel back all of its skin. Cut the catfish into pieces and store in a container of water or freeze for later use.