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Best Bait For Catfishing      by J.D. Sill


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 these monsters.

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 bugs.

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 Catfishing Success







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