Channel catfish train within days to come to floating fish food and everyone enjoys watching them vacuum up food from the surface. With quality fish food channel catfish can put on a couple lbs of weight each year. They can even grow into massive specimen weighing over 25 lbs if given the time.
There are the obvious downfalls of feeding catfish including poor water quality and fish kills due to over feeding. But many pond owners are starting to discover a much larger downfall. As with many animals channel catfish become conditioned to their environment and the food sources in that environment. This means that when your fish feeder goes of at 6:30 P.M. everyday from the dock the catfish are waiting. However, this also means that over time they learn exactly what that fish food smells, looks, and taste like and anything that deviates from that fish food will slowly become less of a food source. What that translates to is hard to catch channel catfish.
Sure as an angler you may still catch one or two but quickly the bite slows and you become frustrated with the fish that you can see but not catch. Some anglers turn to fish food paste, artificial fish food lures, and any way to get fish food on their hooks to catch catfish. Others turn off the feeder for weeks in advance to have a more successful fishing trip. Some go to more drastic lengths and begin seining, trapping, and bow fishing every catfish they can out of the fishery to eventually start over with a new crop of catfish that are not so picky, yet...
So whats the answer? Do you feed your channel catfish to create trophy sized fish and for the entertainment value or is it to big of a risk because you may be teaching them to not eat other food sources? I tend to say feed them but only a small amount, supplemental to the rest of their diet. That will keep them scavenging to fill their bellies. Also, when you are able, turn the feeder off a couple days before an extended fishing weekend. If you plan on having a trophy bass lake it may be best to not stock catfish but instead build a smaller catfish pond in another site.
By: Steven Bardin M.S.