While catfish are not typically the pickiest when it comes to bait, there are a few things that are important to maximize your ability to reel in a big one! Catfish are known for loving the smell or odor of bait. However, not just any bait, but live bait that has recently died. While it may seem more logical to just use an artificial lure, anglers all over have come to find themselves much more successful with recently dead bait.
Catfish are not known to be predators, in fact, they are inferior fish. This means that their bottom jaws are shorter than their upper jaws. This results in why they are bottom feeders. Catfish are designed to eat on the bottom, their eyes are been better when they are looking down. The bait selection, even for live bait can be overwhelming so we have put together a shortlist of our favorite catfish bait to make your catfish fishing the most successful it can be.
These are the basic starting point for catfish in the south. The shiners are high in protein and are highly populated. You will get your best result by using a small circle hook and hooking them where they can still swim naturally once you cast them into the water. You could fish them free-lined, under a bobber, or on the bottom with a slight weight to keep them down. Larger catfish tend to navigate in deeper waters, so keeping the active fish close will usually work best for bigger baits.
Minnows are small baits that are pretty much eaten by every species that swims. If you are fishing for catfish, you are likely to find minnows in the same water and area that you are looking for the catfish in. You can catch them by loading up some trash into a net and dumping in the water. (Make sure that none of the trash makes it out of the net and is left in the water). However, if you are not interested in catching your own bait, there are some bait and tackle shops that will carry minnows. When fishing with minnows it is best to use smaller hooks so that they bait stay alive.
Live Shad & Other Cut Bait
Cut baits for catfish can be anything like dead shad or nightcrawlers or anything that is smaller and dead. Since catfish are bottom feeders their mouths are surrounded by feelers. These feelers help them recognize the smell of something that they are accustomed to eating. Cut bait is a more productive bait when it is oily, shad is the perfect example of this. They are the consistency that the catfish love and they are easy to find dead, frozen, or alive at many bait and tackle shops.
Stink bait catches catfish solely because of how bad it smells. the reason why some may feel this is the best bait is that you can make/ create it yourself. Some of catfish angler’s favorite recipes consist of cheese, chicken liver, garlic, hot dogs, french fries, and dog food. Simple concoctions of some sort of meat and something that smells is perfect for these hungry fish. The only way catfish find their food is through their sense of smell. So the stinker the food, the better.
Fishing for catfish doesn’t have to be complicated. Putting things you find at a local grocery store on a jig can do the trick. While natural baits can often work, ultimately to get the best outcome, fishing with bait fish and other stinky baits are the better bait choices. You can often catch the bait with a simple cast net if you prefer to save money. Small fish like crappies, sunfish, suckers, and chum are all decent options when setting out to catch a big catfish.
Good luck and happy fishing!