When it comes to fishing baits, you won’t find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. You can buy many of these “stinkbaits” at your local tackle shop or discount store, and they work great for catching the eating-size whiskerfish most of us want to catch.
If you’re a hardcore catfisherman, however, you should try making your own catfish baits at home. Most are foul-smelling, stick-to-your-fingers concoctions that could gag a maggot, but they’re also inexpensive, easy to prepare and, when made with the right ingredients, sure to entice lots of cats.
One old-timer told me, “There are more stink bait recipes than there are food recipes, and not all of them have been invented yet. The fun part is experimenting. When you come up with a brand-new formula, you’re just as proud as you’d be if you made a delicious new barbecue sauce or a tasty marinade.”
Here are three basic recipes to get you started. Each works great as is, but feel free to add some of your own secret ingredients—rotten fish, Limburger cheese, soured grain or special oils and essences, for example.
Giving a recipe your own special touch may make it even more attractive to those whiskered warriors you want to catch for your next fish fry.
Mr. Whisker’s Dough Balls
For this bait, you need four ingredients: 1 cup flour, 1 cup corn meal, 1 tin of sardines (packed in oil or water) and a 1-ounce bottle of anise extract. You’ll also need some water to add for the right consistency.
Start by thoroughly whisking together the flour and corn meal in a large mixing bowl. Then break apart the sardines and pour into the flour-corn meal mixture, along with all of the juices from the tin. These little fishies give the bait a scent and flavor catfish find hard to resist.
Use the whisk to mash all of the sardines into tiny pieces. Then stir everything well so the juices are absorbed by the flour and corn meal.
Anise extract can usually be found in the spice section of your supermarket. Catfish are attracted by its licorice-like aroma. Add a full 1-ounce bottle to the other ingredients and stir well.
You should now stir in some water a little bit at a time until the mixture has the consistency of Play-Doh. Don’t add too much water or the bait will turn out too thin. It needs to be thick enough you can use your hands to form it into balls.
Form the dough into pieces the size and shape of golf balls and drop into boiling water. Allow to cook about 3 minutes. This hardens the pieces so they’ll stay on your hook better.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the dough balls from the water. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool. The bait is now ready to use. Store in a plastic container or zip-seal freezer bag in the refrigerator until you’re ready to go fishing. Impale on a big single-barb hook, lob into the water and get ready for action.
Breakfast of Champions
This bait recipe requires only two ingredients: Wheaties cereal and fresh (not frozen) chicken livers. Blood in the chicken liver is an irresistible attractant for eating-size channel, blue and flathead catfish. The cereal serves as a binder that gives the bait the proper consistency.
Add an amount of Wheaties cereal equivalent to the amount of livers, push down into the liquefied livers with a spoon, then use the “pulse” button on the blender or food processor to slowly mix the cereal and liver juice together.
Transfer this mixture to a bowl, then add more cereal and mix it in thoroughly with a spoon or fork. Crush the cereal flakes as you stir, and continue adding more cereal until the mixture is thick enough to form into balls that hold together well.
It’s important to get the mixture the right consistency, so the balls will stay on a hook. A treble hook works better than a single-barb hook. Push it through the middle then clip the hook eye on a snap swivel when fishing. If you have a place you can set the bait in the sun a few hours without animals eating it, that helps harden the balls so they stay on the hook better as well.
Store in a plastic container or Ziploc bag in your fridge or ice chest, and never freeze as that breaks down the blood proteins most attractive to catfish.
Little Red Wieners
This is my favorite homemade catfish bait. It smells garlicky, attracts catfish from long distances and can be stored in the refrigerator for months. To make it you need six to eight hot dogs (the cheapest brands work best), 1 package of unsweetened strawberry Kool-Aid (other “red” flavors work but not as well in my experience) and at least 2 to 3 tablespoons of minced garlic.
Begin by using a sharp knife to cut the hot dogs into pieces about 3/4 to 1 inch long. You want the pieces just big enough that a hook point can be run through a chunk with the barb left exposed.
Place the hot dog pieces in a plastic container with a lid or in a freezer bag you can zip shut. Then add the minced garlic. I buy the garlic in jars at the dollar store for a buck apiece. While a tablespoon or two works fine, I sometimes add as much as 1/4 cup to really flavor the wieners. For some unknown reason, catfish love the taste and smell of garlic.
Now pour the packet of Kool-Aid powder into the container with the hot dogs and add enough water to cover all. Mix thoroughly. The Kool-Aid isn’t added for flavor or scent but for color. That’s why the strawberry flavor works so well. It adds a blood color very attractive to catfish, which greedily devour anything that looks bloody and injured.
<h2>002</h2>For this bait, you need four ingredients: 1 cup flour, 1 cup corn meal, 1 tin of sardines (packed in oil or water) and a 1-ounce bottle of anise extract. You’ll also need some water to add for the right consistency.