4 Best Tips on How to Catch Tilapia

Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated February 21, 2020

Today we give you 4 actionable tips on how to catch tilapia effectively.

One of the most important skills that any angler can learn is how to target and catch a specific species of fish. In fact, targeting a species in this way can add a whole new level of excitement to your fishing experience. 

So instead of simply going out on the water, throwing in a line, and hoping that something is going to bite, you’ll be able to hone your fishing skills and optimize your chances of catching fish every time you go out. 

With that said, tilapia is a very popular target species and for a few good reasons. For starters, tilapia has a delicious, mild-flavored white meat. And since these tasty meal fish can sometimes be a bit tricky to find and catch, targeting them can be both fun and challenging.    

In the following article, we’ll be taking a look at the tilapia and some of the best ways to target and catch these delicious fish.

Let’s dive in!

About Tilapia

Tilapia fish isolated on white background

According to Wikipedia, Tilapia is actually the common name for nearly 100 different species of fish, all native to the Middle East and some parts of Africa. Today, however, the tilapia fish has been introduced to many other parts of the world for farming practices.

In fact, today, tilapia is farmed in an estimated 135 countries around the world due to the fact that it can easily survive in a crowded environment, grows fast, and consumes a relatively cheap plant-based diet. 

In other words, tilapia is an ideal farming fish and makes for a fairly inexpensive type of seafood. And according to HealthLine, this mild-flavored fish is the 4th most commonly eaten fish in the United States.

But if you’re looking to try eating tilapia, wild-caught is always preferable to farmed. The problem, however, is that wild tilapia can be a bit tricky to find. Plus, they spook easily, so catching them can sometimes prove quite challenging. 

That is, of course, unless you know how to target them. 

How To Target and Catch Tilapia

Now, let’s take a look at how you can optimize your chances of catching tilapia on your next fishing trip. Below, we’ll jump into 4 of the absolute best tips for targeting and catching tilapia. 

These delicious meal fish can be caught at any time of day, but during the early morning sunrise, the early evening sunset, and during mid-day seem to be the best times to catch them.

The Best Baits to Use

Corn bait with fishing hook

You’ll be happy to learn that tilapia feeds mainly on plant-based foods. In other words, you won’t need to spend all your hard-earned money on expensive live baits such as worms, minnows, or nightcrawlers. And most of the time, baits such as peas, corn, and bread balls can be extremely effective at luring hungry tilapia into biting onto your hook.

Furthermore, you can make use of the tilapia’s natural territorial instincts to help you increase your chances of a successful catch. 

For this, it’s best to use man-made lures that mimic small fish or invertebrates and cast them into the waters surrounding a tilapia spawning pool. Because the tilapia is naturally territorial, it will most likely try to attack your lure, thinking that it is an invasive fish wandering into its territory. 

Just keep in mind that tilapia often have a very delicate bite. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use smaller hooks and shorter lures, which are most likely to result in a better hook set. In some cases, anglers have success catching tilapia by using a very small hook and a tiny piece of earthworm as bait. 

Use The Right Tackle

When you’re fishing for tilapia, it’s important to understand that not all lures are going to be just as effective. 

That’s because, when you compare them to most other species, the tilapia is a relatively small fish, which means that using light tackle and a smaller-sized lure is a must if you’re hoping for a successful catch. 

Many professional anglers recommend using a light to mid-action rod, a spinning reel strung with 4 to 8-pound test monofilament, and a #4 hook. 

It’s can also be a good idea to use a few small floats to help you suspend your bait over spawning pools. Or depending on the water conditions, you might want to try adding a small split-shot to your setup to help draw your bait down to the bottom. 

Focus On Shallow Waters

Tilapia Fish in farm

To target tilapia, you’re going to want to fish for them where they’re most likely to be. Therefore, it’s important to remember that tilapia like shallow, brackish waters. 

In fact, during tilapia’s spawning season, they often seek out very shallow water where there is a lot of vegetation to help protect them from predators. You can usually spot a tilapia spawning bed by searching for areas that look like craters at the bottom of the lake, river, or pond. 

Just be careful when approaching these areas because tilapia spook quite easily, and once you’ve spooked them, you can say goodbye to any chances you had of catching them.

Fish During Spawning Season

It might be obvious to say, but any fisherman knows that it’s best to go fishing during times when you know you’ll have the highest chance of catching your target fish. 

When it comes to targeting tilapia, the best time to fish for this aquatic delicacy is during its peak spawning season. Typically, you’ll find tilapia spawning when the water temperatures drop to below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

So, during spring or fall are usually the best seasons for tilapia fishing. However, it’s not uncommon to catch tilapia at any time of the year. 

Therefore, the most important thing is to get out there and start trying to catch them. 

Find out what works for you and what doesn’t. And before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the best fisherman you can be.

Just make sure that there are no local laws that restrict fishing tilapia during these times in your local area. For more information on fishing seasons, contact us or make sure to consult your local wildlife authority.