In any type of fishing there are two main considerations, finding the fish, and offering them bait that will produce strikes. Catfish are no different, so selecting the right catfish bait is extremely important. Now I realize that conditions and seasons play a part in how well a particular catfish bait will work, but there are some baits that tend to work regardless of conditions. In this article, I want to show 4 tantalizing catfish baits that are proven to compel catfish to strike.
Live or Dead Shad
Shad are staple for channel and yellow (flathead) catfish, but are especially enjoyed by blue catfish. Often, shad are plenty in the lakes and river systems, and can either be caught by a cast net, or purchased at any bait stand near the body of water you are fishing.
Shad are extremely difficult to keep alive, but if you can keep them alive, use them as live bait. Hook them either in the tail or through the upper and lower lip, and fish them just above the bottom. You can rig up with a large weight on the end of the line, then tie on your hook a couple of feet above the weight. This will keep your bait off the bottom, and from escaping into protective cover areas.
My experience has mostly been with dead shad, which is still an extremely excellent bait choice. I usually go for shad that are are 5 to 6 inches long, and hook them once in the head region, and again in the body region with a good circle or wide gap hook.
Cutting up your shad is also a viable option, and will produce a greater amount of scent in the water. However, the bigger the bait, the bigger the fish, and with using whole shad in the 5 to 6 inch range, I generally pull in catfish that are greater than 3 pounds, and often in the 5 to 20 pound range.
Live or Dead Perch
Another excellent bait choice for all catfish, but perch are especially prized of the yellow catfish. Yellow catfish are my favorite to eat, and thus I am partial to using perch. As with shad, perch are hard to keep alive, but if you are rod and reel fishing, you may fish a live perch as long as the perch will stay alive. When I go jug fishing, often I will do a 2/3 fillet of one side of the perch, to get some blood and scent in the water, and put it on a sturdy circle hook about 3 to 4 below the water’s surface. Then I might leave a handful of the perch alive, and wait for the fish.
Catfish blood bait is yet another good choice. This bait can be used in smaller chunks, and is very effective at landing smaller channel catfish and blue catfish. This isn’t to say you can’t catch a big catfish with this bait, but merely that it is more effective at landing the smaller fish.
Focus on blood bait that has a fairly strong consistency, and thus will stay on the hook for a longer period of time. Good blood bait will crumble and break down over time, and you want this to happen. Because when it starts to break down, those pieces of blood bait flow with the current, and leave a trail that leads to your hook.
I have caught many small channels and blue catfish with blood bait. Channel and blue catfish in the 1 to 5 pound range are very common catches with this type of catfish bait.
That’s it for today, stay tuned for tomorrow when I reveal more great catfish bait that you can use to greatly increase your chances of landing some great catfish.