September in Mississippi can be the hottest time of the year. Noted for the return of football, deer-camp workdays and oppressive heat, it is still the heart of summer — even though fall is on the horizon as the ninth month arrives.

Yet, on the water, on the steamiest of cays, the hottest action is often for catfish. As miserable as the mid-day heat may be, it’s never too hot to catch catfish.

Mississippi waters are home to a large number of catfish species and subspecies, but only three — flatheads, blues and channels — are targeted for their size and quality as table fare. Many a skillet of hot grease has welcomed a yellow bullhead, aka mud-cat, but most of those little cats are caught in smaller rivers and creeks on limb lines with earthworms.

Of the big three species, flatheads are by far the most-prized. Their flesh is white and delicate. It can be baked or broiled, but battered and fried is by far the top choice. Flatheads are river dwellers, choosing to occupy deep holes or live under logjams, where they can lie in wait for a passing meal. They prefer live bait.

Blue cats are another river dweller, but without the selective palate. A blue will eat just about anything; stink baits are a top choice, as are cut shad. Goldfish and large shiners are good choices for anglers looking for a less-odiferous offering. Blues like to be close to deep water but will patrol shallow flats at night.

Channels are the most-frequently stocked catfish, both for fishing and for aquaculture purposes.

“Channel cats are the only catfish stocked into state lakes and state park lakes,” said Jerry Brown, a biologist with the Mississippi Department of