The best bait
for catfishing is a debatable one. First off it depends
on where you are fishing. It depends on what time
of year it is. And it depends on what kind of catfish
you are trying to bait.
First off there are thousands of types of catfish in
the world. In the United States, common catfish include
Channel Catfish, Flathead Catfish, Bullhead Catfish
and Blue Catfish, just to name a few.
The most common smaller catfish is the Channel Catfish
and it is the easiest to bait. Being a scavenger and
bottom feeder, these fish will feast off bugs on the
surface of the water, smaller bait fish and almost anything
they find in the water.
The bigger monster
catfish, like the flathead and the blue catfish are more elusive
and require greater care when picking a bait. You want to pick
things that they are feeding on in the wild right now.
By choosing fresh bait you have the greatest chance of catching
So what do catfish eat in their natural habitat? Well,
they eat smaller fish. They eat crawfish and shrimp; they
eat frogs and other aquatic animals. Also, as I mentioned
before, the smaller fish will skim the top of the water for
The flathead catfish is partial to sunfish. This is the
best bait for catfishing when baiting flatheads.
Another thing to know about catfish is that they have a really
strong sense of smell so you want to make your bait smell really
strong, and by strong I mean scare away anyone within twenty
feet of your bait. Using fresh bait can do the trick but
you can add some other additives such as the juice from a fish
or fish oil to make your bait even stinkier. When your
bait is in the water, it creates a nice smelly trail for the
catfish to find you.
Channel Catfish Bait
Channel catfish are the least picky and will likely bite on
anything that smells. You can purchase night crawlers
at a bait shop, grab some chicken livers or hot dogs at the
store, use fish guts or raw fish, catch some crawdad or grasshoppers,
buy or catch minnows or make your own recipe of “stink bait.”
For stink bait the rule is to put a multitude of smelly food
together, let it bake in a sealed tub in the sun for a few weeks
and then use it for bait. The most common ingredient is smelly
cheese, but also includes fish oil, raw fish or chicken livers,
peanut butter, bread or cornmeal and anything else that the
catfish will bite on.
Flathead Catfish Bait
Flatheads love sunfish, but will also eat chicken livers, fresh
fish like mackerel, shrimp and crawdads. I have heard
of fishermen putting a few minnows on one hook and even using
a dead sheep’s head, although I have never tried this myself.
Bullhead Catfish Bait
The bullhead, like the channel catfish, will eat almost anything.
You can try any of the above baits to catch this guy.
Bullheads seem partial to salmon eggs as well.
Blue Catfish Bait
Blue catfish are some of the largest catfish out there.
To attract these monsters, the best bait for catfishing is cut
bait (fish cut into pieces). You can also use live bait
to attract these predators.
Editors Note: J.D.Sill is a
catfishing expert. For much more information about catfishing
check out the website