Catfish –to strike or not to strike 3 cont. The answers.
Cont,
3-What are the sizes of catfish in the area you are targeting and the size of the schools?
A very large catfish that have a defined territory will not be too aggressive when swallowing a piece of bait as it is not worried that a competitor might grab the bait before him or out of its mouth. It has a very unique type of bait but one of the easiest to recognise if you are used to the large catfish. 
4-Do you know what the habitat looks like where you are fishing?
In other words if you know the catfish in the respective holes and you drop your bait right in front of it there’s no immediate competition between fish so there could be a less aggressive take. 
5-What is the predominant bait/prey during the season or period you are fishing?
During the first hatching of mudfish in rivers for instance the small fish that breed out in the first two weeks are fed on aggressively so catfish munch on hundreds of them. If you bait up with a small strip of baitfish with scales you might have an aggressive take especially if you fish with artificial lures or move the bait. The larger pieces of bait like half fish or large heads will not do that good. You could experience  a lethargic take on older not so fresh baits.
6-What is the water temperature?
Cold temperatures make any fish eat slowly or not feed that heavily. Catfish like the warm temperatures but also have a tolerance level at a certain temperature. I found that when other fish start going off the bite due to warm water temperatures they (catfish) seem to hone into the slow reacting fish especially in the beginning of rapids where the fish tend to congregate in the cooler water over rapids especially in the evenings.
7-Pre spawn, spawn or just after spawn?
After the winter season as the water starts to heat up the catfish eat aggressively due to the low metabolism during the winter. During the spawn they go off the bite but can still be caught if they take lures or a fresh strip of fish with scales on that are cast on top of them. I don’t know if it is due to aggression or hunger. But directly following spawn they feed prolifically and can be caught on a variety of baits and sizes.
8-Are there other predatory fish species of relative large size present in the habitat your fishing in?
Sometimes there are other large fish sharing the habitat or various similar sized specimens and when bait is dropped between them they will not take time to swallow. They will swallow the bait immediately. They will swim away quite fast with the bait however.
9-What is the barometric pressure stable dropping or rising?
As with other fish the dropping barometer will reduce bites but not as much as with other indigenous species. We still had excellent fishing well into cold fronts at the right period though.
10-Should I wait to strike for longer than 5 seconds to let the cat really swallow the bait or should I set the hook when I hear the real run.
It is common knowledge that the catfish does not want to feel resistance as it takes hold of the bait. There are however fish that if they feel slight resistance, immediately take the bait more aggressively as they don’t want their prey to escape as the catfish is a very successful predator. And predators don’t play with food. Especially with competition nearby. It is my feeling that it is the h line that the fish don’t like to feel on its body and not resistance of the bait so much. Or let me put it this way the resistance must be related to the size of the bait. A catfish that bites a small piece of chicken liver and at same time feels a weight of a few ounces and a tickle of a line halfway down its body gets confused with the bait size and make up.
Catfish chickens, blood, other concoctions and light line.
The practice by competition or organised anglers to catch catfish with tons of dead chickens or chicks, litters of mammal blood and other horrific concoctions are a disgrace and reflects on the selfish attitude of these sports anglers. Most of them will then be found in church on Sundays. Our Waters are already so polluted on the earth that we can ill afford these malpractices. Besides the fact that it’s against the law to do this.  The other worrying factor is that organised angling allow for only 4 kilogram line to catch catfish. Catfish are our largest species of fish and many hundreds are broken off during one season by one club’s members only.