Collapse bottom bar
Your Location: You're in the jungle, baby! X
Catfish Fishing Sportsman Ch. Know How

12 Great Catfish Baits

by Jeff Samsel   |  March 19th, 2014 194
catfish, catfish baits, catfishing, how to catch catfish, blue cat, blue catfish

Nick caught this blue cat on Eagle Mountain Lake in Texas. Photo via Camera Corner

Catching any kind of fish begins with putting baits where the fish are. That simple fact acknowledged, an angler’s offerings also must appeal to the fish. For many species of game fish, lure sizes, shapes, movements and colors, and types of presentations all figure prominently into the equation of making an offering appealing. For catfish, which feed mostly by smell and taste, it is all about using the right kind of bait.

Of course, different species and sizes of cats prefer different kinds of meals, and some offerings lend themselves better to specific styles of catfishing than do others. Also, catfish are just like other kinds of fish — and people for that matter — in the sense that their preferences vary from day to day. One day’s hot bait commonly may not yield much the next day, with no obvious change in conditions. With that in mind, you are wise to set the table with at least a couple of different kinds of baits and allow the cats to dictate their preferences.


5 Baits For Catfishing

Most fishermen consider catfish a great summertime target, but catfish eat the year 'round and can be caught in early spring with the right baits.

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, with popular picks ranging from hot dog slices to raw bacon to clams and smaller catfish. If one were to dig into occasional uses, the list of items that have never been used as catfish bait might be shorter than the list of those that have. Despite the never-ending list of options available to catfish anglers, certain baits do tend to outshine the rest. Here we will look at five of the very best.


Big catfish like big meals, and few things do more to improve an angler’s odds of landing a true trophy cat than baiting up with a big chunk of cut shad or even a live shad. Adult flathead catfish feed almost exclusively on live fish, and shad often are an important part of the mix because they are around river channels, where flatheads spend the most time. Even channel catfish, which feed on a little bit of everything both dead and alive, turn heavily to fish diets once they get larger than 10 pounds or so.

Shad make great bait in most reservoirs and many rivers, because they are prevalent natural forage and often are readily available to fishermen. However, the same principles apply to various minnows and other baitfish species in waterways where shad are not the main attraction.

Generally speaking, shad should be cut into chunks or strips, with the size of the pieces and the type of cut determined by the size of cats being targeted and the size of the shad. Probably the most efficient way to cut up a shad is to slice off the head and tail and cut across the body to create strips. If those pieces seem too large, the strips can then be cut in half. However, some anglers prefer to fillet large shad and cut up the fillets or to fish with very small shad, either whole or cut in half.

You also should not overlook a large shad’s “guts.” The entrails produce a very strong smell and often attract strikes almost immediately. Shad guts do not tend to yield as many large fish as do chunks of fillets, but they get a rod tip dancing and definitely are worth putting out there for the cats to consider.

Cut shad can be fished several different ways for good success. The most popular technique is to use a Carolina rig with a large enough barrel weight to keep the rig on the bottom. Lines are spread around the boat or along the shore in a range of depths for lake fishing, or they are cast downstream, often from the head of hole, in rivers. This simple approach is tough to beat any time the cats are using known locations such as river-bend holes or the sides of humps. If the fish are more widespread or their locations are less certain, a good alternative is to drift, using either three-way rigs or bottom-bumping rigs.

For flathead catfish, shad need to be alive and at least palm-sized. Top-end predators, flatheads have minimal interest in cut bait. Baits should be presented on or near the bottom around good structure and thick cover. In rivers, the flatheads are around outside bends among tangles of tree branches near the bank. In reservoirs they typically are along bends in the old creek or river channel or near channel confluences.

Here, our friends over at In-Fisherman talk about how to score monster flatheads:


Arguably, no bait is more closely associated with catfishing than a chicken liver. The reason is simple: livers produce catfish and lots of them. With their strong, meaty smell, chicken livers draw cats from broad areas. Once the cats find the bait, they have trouble resisting them.


Homemade Catfish Bait Recipes That Work

Why let the bait manufacturers have all the fun concocting surefire stinkbaits for whiskerfish? Our resident catfish expert shares his five favorites.

Livers typically do not produce many huge catfish. However, for channel cats up to about 10 pounds, chicken livers are extremely productive. They also are inexpensive and available from any grocery store.

One major caveat of baiting up with chicken livers is that they initially can be difficult to keep on the hook. They toughen up once they have been in the water a few minutes. But if you are not careful, casting this bait much farther than your hook travels is common.

Among the best ways to keep livers hooked is to use treble hooks and relatively small pieces of bait, and wrap the liver onto the hook. That allows the bait to be hooked in a few different places, and the bends of the three hooks work together to keep the offering in place. Beyond that, you simply need to make lob casts instead of fast-action snapping casts.

Livers also tend to work best for the first 15 or 20 minutes they are on a hook. They lose a lot of their natural juices over time as well as much of their appeal. Anglers are wise, therefore, to re-bait rigs periodically and to always begin with a fresh piece of liver after moving to a new spot.

Chicken livers work well any where channel cats or smaller blues are the main attraction and where currents are not too overpowering. Extra strong current such as in tailraces of dams, for example, often tear livers off hooks before the cats get the opportunity to find the bait and eat it.

For ponds or other small-water settings, all you typically need to add to the line is a split shot or two. In bigger lakes or rivers, more weight typically is needed.

A couple of final considerations about livers are worth noting. First, when cats are active, livers go quickly. It is wise to bring two or three containers of bait for a day of catfishing. Also you should always bring a hand towel or two and be prepared to make a mess out of them. Chicken livers are incredibly sticky.


Some folks make their own dips from well-guarded secret recipes that have been passed from generation to generation. Others have favored commercially manufactured blends that they buy by the case. Whether
home brewed or store bought, dip baits are gooey concoctions that usually smell horrible, but catfish absolutely cannot resist them.

While all dip baits smell bad, a foul odor is not enough to make a tub of bait attractive to cats. A dip must have a cheese base or some kind of protein content. Dough balls, no matter how sour or smelly they are, do not offer much appeal to most cats.

A bait’s consistency also is critical. A good dip is soft enough that it breaks up gradually, but solid enough that it does not wash away quickly. In current, where dip baits are really at their best, that can be a delicate balance.

Dip baits work best when fished in the current, because the moving water carries bait particles downstream as the dip breaks up creating a chum line of sorts that leads directly to the hook. Dips often out-produce other baits in rivers or in sections of reservoirs that have plenty of current running through them. However, reservoir fisheries can turn on and off as if someone was flipping a light switch based on power-generation schedules.

Anglers should consider how cats are likely to relate to a river hole or other structure and set up with their baits on the up-current side of where they expect the cats to hold. It is also wise to make repeated casts to the same general area, because doing so strengthens the line of scent to the area where the bait settles.

Dips generally do not stay on hooks — even treble hooks — on their own. There is nothing solid to put a hook through. Instead, anglers buy “catfish worms,” most of which are tubes with holes in them or ringworm-style rubber worms. All are designed to hold the bait initially, but release it gradually. Most come pre-rigged with treble hooks on leaders, and sometimes a worm or two is included with a can of dip. An alternative is to string a piece of sponge onto the shank of the treble hook.

Dip baits are generally best kept in the shade during mid-summer days. Most get thinner in the heat, and keeping the bait on the hook can become challenging. Some manufacturers sell additives that help thicken dip baits that get too thin on toasty afternoons.

A final important accessory, similar to the liver fisherman’s hand towel, is some sort of a dipstick to push the worm or sponge down into the bait without actually touching the goop.


Stringing a worm on a hook is the essence of fishing simplicity. In fact, it almost seems too simple. That said, night crawlers remain some of the finest baits available for coaxing catfish into biting. They smell natural, because they are natural, and they seem to taste mighty good to catfish.

Generally speaking, the rule for night crawlers and catfish is, the bigger the better. Even small cats like big, juicy worms. It is generally a good idea to wad two or three on a hook if you only can find small or medium-sized worms. Unlike other species, catfish typically do not care how night crawlers are strung on the hook. They feed mostly by smell and taste, not by sight, so the more worm that is wrapped around and sewn onto the hook, the better your chances are of hooking cats that bite.

One very effective and often overlooked method for catfishing with worms is to suspend a worm beneath a float, hanging the bait barely off the bottom. This works really well when cats are holding around stumps, the bases of flooded trees or beside downed trees along the edges of rivers. The float allows you to present a bait precisely and move it around easily to locate cats that are using cover.

Night crawlers also work great when fished on the bottom with Carolina rigs, bounced just off the bottoms of tailwaters or other swift rivers with three-way rigs, or dragged across points or flats at night when the cats move shallow to feed.

Because they do not have to be cut up and are not quite as messy as livers or dip bait, night crawlers also make a terrific bait choice for trips with youngsters. Children quickly learn how to string worms on hooks so the bait will not come off. Also, cats tend to slurp in night crawlers, so hook-up ratios tend to be good.

Another great thing about night crawlers and other worms as baits to use during family catfish outings is that the children can dig their own worms, often from their own backyards and sometimes from the lakeshore when there’s a break in the action. There is an indisputable extra pride that comes from catching a fish on a hand-dug worm — somewhat akin to the pride of a fly-fisherman catching a fish on a hand-tied fly.


If chicken livers are the best known of all catfish baits, crawfish may be the most overlooked. All major species of catfish feed on crawfish, although most flatheads caught on craws weigh 20 pounds or less.

Crawfish rank among the best baits of all for fishing in creeks and small rivers. You can either bounce live crawdads near the bottom in the current using split shot rigs or add a little heavier weight and fish crawfish tails right on the bottom. Dead crawfish produce mostly channel catfish. Live ones — especially big craws — also attract modest-sized flatheads. Anglers who specifically want flatheads should put baits close to the thickest cover they can find and be ready to pull with everything they have upon setting the hook.

Crawfish are not purely stream baits, though. They are important forage in many ponds, lakes and reservoirs and, therefore, make great catfish bait in waterways of all sizes. Fresh crawfish, whether dead or alive, work great for putting cats in the boat whether they are placed atop rocky points or humps on summer nights, or fished in the deeper open water along the edge of a grass bed.

A live crawfish can be hooked through the base of the tail from the bottom up. Some anglers like to remove the pincers, but the cats probably do not care either way. Anglers using dead craws often pinch off the head and string the body on the hook, inserting it under the tail and impaling as much of the crawfish as possible. This kind of rig can spin in the water if there is any current, so adding a swivel between the weight and the hook is a good idea.

Some bait stores do sell live crawfish. However, anglers who want to bait up with fresh craws generally have to catch their own. Simply turning rocks can accomplish that in some streams. In many rivers and most lakes, anglers have to put down some type of crawfish trap, which can be baited with chicken parts.

Catfish purists should consider one warning about using crawfish — especially live crawfish: Virtually everything that swims likes to eat crawfish, so expect to sort through a bunch of bluegills, bass and other “undesirables” between prized catfish bites.

What’s your favorite catfish bait? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

  • http://google Jordan Mayet

    what about shrimp?

    • http://yahoo catfish

      shrimps ok buffalo sucker and carp love shrimp though i suggest liver and bluegill

      • dustin

        ok shrimp will work and all ideas are very good but one of the best baits i have personaly used is a dead coon off he road for about 2 days skin it and use that meat it makes the big cats have a mouth origasms

        here we go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • ale

      shimp works well bor blue catfish and dorado

    • kid fisher

      wont do this recipie is better than shrimp, garlic powder soy and hot sauce mayo bbq sauce chilly powder and ranch with any meat mixed in a ziplock over night is by far the best blue cat bait

    • joe

      try dry dog food it works great

  • http://yahoo catfish

    yes shrimp works not as good as livers though

  • http://yahoo catfish

    best bait for 50ILB plus cats are bluegill and shad but cut baits work also livers can get you big cats shrimp works good for some cats mostly buffalo sucker and carp

    • bryce

      I think cut bait work to . because last year me and my pals were and this pond . We had been fishing all day but we try blue gill and next thing i now i got a 12pound channel at the end of my line. And it was a good fight. and ready for a great year of summer fishing.

    • wayne

      i agree one bluegill, they have proven very helpful in the quest for catfish here in south bend.

  • ReeseHarrison

    what about beef liver

    • me boy

      if its liver it works

    • dan da man

      BULL where r u gonna get deer heart DAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    • steelhead50

      fresh groundhog lives killer for channels.But it takes alittle work but its fun

  • cody

    chopped up elk liver is the best catfish bait ive ever used

    • Blakerz

      Do you really have to use a treble hook to cast out liver?

      • Jake

        its extremely hard to keep it on a regular hook. i often have to hook it 6+ times in a treble hook just to get it to stay on. great bait tho. i like to put chicken liver in a minnow trap because it attracts tons of little bait fish that the cats like to bite on too. that way you can try two different baits at once to see what the cats want that day

  • ale


  • ale

    cheese meat minnows salt garlic mix that all up and put in refigerator till use

  • ale

    good luck

  • zac

    looking for a awsome but easy catfish bait please email me some thing i fish everyday so need something that is awsome to use

  • mexican

    turtle guts works really good

  • TurtleMan

    Zac, I agree with mexican; turtle guts is one of those secret weapons that most long-time catfishermen don't like to share with others.

    Try to get 15 pounds or so of turtle guts (Loggerhead is preferable, but Ridley's or Green also works pretty good). Put the guts in a 5 gallon paint bucket.

    Make a mixture of 1 qt. quail blood, 1/2 gal. spicy Italian dressing, and 2 pounds (melted!) Velveeta cheese, and pour it over the turtle guts. Set it in the sun for at least a couple hours (be sure no cats can get to it) before using it.

    Best place to get the turtle guts: I catch them by using fresh-caught catfish for bait. So be sure to catch some catfish the day before you want to make the turtle gut bait. Figure you'll need 2-3 catfish for each turtle you want to catch. You'll find most sea turtles off the jetties, or out in blue water.

    Good luck, and tight lines!

    • Catfish Bandit

      Lol!! but if i can catch 2-3 catfish to use as turtle bait,Why do I need the turtles
      again. lol

  • Fasteddie

    TurtleMan, you are a genius. My grandfather taught me almost the same technique and recipe.

  • BKroenke

    Goldfish sprayed with WD-40

    • Blakerz

      Yeah then light it on fire.

    • Freaks of Nature

      Holy Crap my Grandparents used that technique when I was growing up. That's frickn hilarious!

    • ryan

      cant use wd40 in a paylake, but goldfish work great

    • cary

      Do not put wd-40 into our water you idiot!

  • gage

    is hotdog good

    • joey


  • Shelly<3Fish

    I find Slim Jims jerky sticks to be better than hot dogs. The smell is more potent plus the oils carry and linger in the water. It has worked every time for me.

    • Brandon

      I tried it and I caught 5 or 6

  • chris

    how about Powerbait? Im taking my son tomorrow for his first time and I want the best bait that I can use to catch Channel cats

  • chris

    When I say Powerbait, Im talking about Berkleys powerbait

    • Big d

      It sucks

  • dylan

    cut dog is good

  • dylan


  • david

    powerbait sucks… it might work alittle but even a hotdog beats it… if your son is young use worms or cut up fish… a big tuna works great for bait!

  • Greg

    I manufacture a dip and a dough bait called Uncle Eds,it is designed for a slow release and is activated as soon as it hits the water releases scent from the top to the bottom I have spent countless hours on research and testing working on the recipe and tweeking as needed.It is made in shrimp,shad and crawdad works very well.There are alot of good baits on the market some great others pathetic.Good Luck and good fishing

    • Kevin

      Where is it sold at?

    • NO NAME

      NICE STORY !!!!


  • tasha

    bacon works good to

    • kirkcop

      turtles love the bacon, then you can harvest the turtle meat and use the guts as chum!

    • David

      I tried it but ate all my bait before I got to the fishing hole…

  • miguel

    shad is pretty good for catfish

    • Blakerz

      bacon? seriously? Im new to this freshwater fishing thing I'm usually fishing the ocean. I live in Hawaii and I think theres only 2 places that have catfish but I have no clue to what type. I thought all catfish were the same. lol Well before I watched Jeremy Wade in River Monsters that is.

    • jack


  • kirkcop

    Hamburger meat(1lb), garlic salt( bout 3 spoon fulls), vanilla extract (3/4 of small bottle), chopped up sardines(1 can) in oil, wrap in panty hose or cheese cloth stretched tight into small balls about the size of a walnut or smaller, tie off the ends and put on your hook. It chums the water, bait stays on and catches plenty of channel cat ( what we call willow cats 'round here on the mississippi in west tn).

    • kirkcop

      but all in all I have had the best luck with skip jack, gizzard shad or live pond perch..

    • Nick

      Should I let it sit out for a while or should I just throw it right on the hook?

    • jack

      you should use mackerel it is very good to use in the day time but liver works only in the night because the catfish come out to eat. i hoped that helped you.

    • NO NAME

      Y THE LLLOOOOOONNNNNGGGG stories ?!?!?

  • TuRtLe MaStEr

    shut up turtle man!use soap im the turtle master

  • jake

    I tell you what I have used just about every bait there is imaginable and nothing works better than baby birds. Of course getting ahold of the baby birds is a challenge but when I used them I had a bite within 15 minutes every time

  • michael odom

    The best bait ive used lately is stew meat fresh from a meat market.

  • fish

    bluegill heads

  • dude

    shrimp man and cat fish dynomite

  • Patrick Henry

    live frogs that you catch at night work great. Hook them through one of the back legs so they can swim freely on the bottom. Works great.

  • larry mcdowell

    hey you guys i use fresh hamburger 1 block of Limburger cheese mix it up and freeze it over night then put it in a cooler of ice when you get to where your fishing let it thaw along enough to cut a chunk off of it i use it all the time . i guarantee it i would like to have a response back im always ask what im using tell them nothing .

  • DylanBassCatcher

    How would Polish Kilbasa work?

    • profisher

      Use mackerel because it's really good in the day time and shrimp to when to sun sets also liver you can use in the night time because the catfish comes out at night to eat.

  • Freaks of Nature

    I am Very shocked no one has yet to even mention using a frog as bait to hook a catfish. When I run out of frogs I go home for the night until I get myself more for the next adventure, and YES the bigger the better. Using a big frog seems to help eliminate catching those small (very sharp barbed) catfish and get straight to the point and hooking the 36"er's. Opening up thier bellies and using a "blood hook" really get's them jacked! I expected frogs to make the top 5 list. Getting some great idea's from all the comments posted, looking forward to bending some poles this season! Be safe and happy fishn'.

  • colt

    use hard soap and a treble hook

  • David c

    wat about corn nd panfish r those good

  • James

    Best catfish bait I've ever used is an old stink bait recipe that my dad passed down to me years ago… dead shad that's been drying in the sun for a couple of days, Limburger cheese, and a little cod liver oil. Shred the dead shad and mix it all up together in a bucket, cover it, and let it set in the sun for another couple of days. I've never failed to catch big cats on that mixture. Be forewarned, it smells HORRID.

    • KrazyKen

      Yes with the cod liver oil I use it in my chicken livers just pour some in the tub of liver and let it GREAT in KY

  • david berryhill

    deer heart real good for catfish i got a lot of 45 pound catfish try it

    • profisher

      guys use mackerel because it's really good in the day time and shrimp to when to sun sets also liver you can use in the night time because the catfish comes out at night to eat.

      • dan da man

        BULLogna where r u gonna get deer heart DAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

  • apryle


    • dan da man


  • profisher

    guys use mackerel because it's really good in the day time and shrimp to when to sun sets also liver you can use in the night time because the catfish comes out at night to eat.

  • Jolene

    Teriyaki beef jerky is good.

    • dipbait hero

      no chance in a lake but maybe in a small pond

    • dan da man

      beef jerky iz horrible didn't catch 1 fish

  • dipbait hero

    what is the best brand of dip bait

    • dan da man


    • chris

      sonnys dip bait is really good

  • Larry

    Gizzards in soy sause that have ripined.

  • Smit

    chicken gizzards in garlic oil work nice and dont come off the hook easy

  • i hate soap

    soap is the WORST i have ever used

  • soap stinks

    soap iz horriblei agree

  • soap rocks

    what r u talking about soap is amazing ur insane

  • spencer

    what about ivory soap?

  • dan da man

    no all soap is horrible use shrimp and live pond perch or blue gill

  • monkey feat

    u guys are insane i live in Nicaragua and monkey feat is the best ever

    • Jake Norris

      Real monkey feet???!!!

  • outdoorsman

    i like to use a little combination i make it works very well its beat any bait ive ever used to catch channel cat you take chicken liver put a shot no more than 2 shots of southern comfort wiskey and a little bottle of anus oil you can get it at a local drug store or grocery store its used to make black lickerish if you cant find it than dont use southern comfort just put a couple shots of yegermyster in it it has the same smell and sweet tast but the alcahol thens the blood and absorbes into the liver streaming the cent a lot farther than plain liver.

  • outdorsman

    plus the water delutes the alcahol so its not harmful to any animals or fish

  • Ben

    Soap only works if it is lye soap, which is made of animal fats, But when it is lye soap then it rocks. Heres the site to buy em or theres recipes to make your own just google it.

    • joey beyrent

      Soap doesnt ever work.

  • frankie

    what bait can you make at your hous

  • kid fisher

    garlic powder soy and hot sauce mayo bbq sauce chilly powder and ranch with any meat mixed in a ziplock over night is by far the best blue cat bait

  • bobo

    i was wondering if you can catch catfish in a small pond

  • Randy Cavin

    Turkey livers are great for catfishing. So are rabbit guts. If you can find them, catalpa worms will get you a stringer full of catfish.

  • bob boo

    Liver is the best bait that i have ever used especially when you let the liver sit in some apple sider for a few days…The catfish love the smell and letting them sit helps it not slip off your hook as easy…

  • danny

    chicken liver works great

  • koko

    chicken livers strawberry kool-aid a couple dog tirds and some moldy cheese then mix them together

  • meow

    i use dough balls covered in sardine gel……..

  • Big d

    Bird guts work great for me

  • michael bailey

    try Hog Suckers and carp they produce monster flat heads only if it is legal to use carp where you live

  • Iluvfishing

    Pour out milk and let it sit out in the sun for a few days. Grind up some macarels, let it sit out for a few days. Chop up some garlic, and mix everything together. Whatever bait you here is good, dip it in the mixture and let it soak. If you can stand the smell, I promise you'll find much better results.

  • Jack A.Smith

    I find fishing with A small bluegill alive but with one lower fin cut off ,(makes bluegill swim in a circle ) which works very good for me to attract catfish.

  • petey

    use human flesh….they love it and it works for me to get 40 pounders.

    • wild man

      yeah your right, one time i was fishing i got so mad tht i cut my finger off and used that as bait.. got a 35 lbs bluecat

    • Jake


  • pierre

    I mean im only 16 years old and fishing almost every other day. BOY! i've learned a lot about bait for flatheads!BAITS i recommend for flatheads (idk about other cats) : (NOTE: these are recent catches)
    *hotdogs let'em sit in the sun for a few hours(put in frig in zip lockbags) -biggest cought 30ish pounds-
    *randy kings punch bait (great in lakes) -20ish pounds-
    *i have cut up perch/blue gillsnothing speciel -8ish pound cat-
    *i have made my own stink bait to experiment (melted chesse/garlic salt/minnows/worms) -n/a, still waiting for that one bite(havn't tooken it out latly).
    *******e-mail me at for photos of big cats 4 proof*******
    -good luck fishing and e-mail me any secret recipies-

  • adecker44

    All of these comments have spurred us to generate a story on homemade catfish baits via Keith "Catfish" Sutton…check it out:

    • phileas smith

      if you just get a bunch of magnum fatheads and just get a hook and stab like five threw the head or the heart that works well

      • phileas smith

        or ten

  • Mike

    I caught a 22 lb. Channel on a nacho flavored slim jim last weekend using steel braided line (15 lb. test) at Lake Arthur in Pennsylvania. I usually use meat sacks made from burger, spray cheese, vanilla extract and garlic. ( The size of a big gumball wrapped in pantyhose. Kirkcop is dead on!

  • anthony

    i use steak that is about 2in long and an 1in wide and i put it on like i would a night crawler i have had good luck with it

  • Ryan Bud Wylie

    live minnows hooked through the tail so they have a little swim room works great too

  • Kate

    What about menos

  • samantha

    what I use is cut up sun fish I caught a 30lb cat on six pound line… what a thrill

  • LaoStyleFishing

    Chicken Liver and Crayfish is hitting pretty good right now all day catching monsters , slice pike slit tails work just as well, worms are ok during the day but even better as the sun goes down…

  • Crakcer-Jack

    I've been using cheese hotdogs cut and soaked in a mixture of water, strawberry koolaid, garlic, and anise extract. It's worked so far, got it from Field & Stream magazine.

  • Billy Baldwin

    Arafats liver works best

    • cecil

      i have caught a bunch of channels and blue channel cats the past two weeks with shrimp take of the skin and tail got pictures to prove its a proven and i both fished at day and night shrimp produce dont believe it works here in ky lakes and rivers!

  • alex

    the best bait ive ever used is a small blugill or a blugill head works even better

  • catmaster

    what bout cut bait soked in hog blood

    • joey beyrent

      Cut bait alone will work fine. Live chubs or suckers are usually best.

  • BenBA4Ever

    i often use the scrotum of a goat. not many people have the opportunity to use it, though its one of the best kept secrets in cat fishing.

  • noe

    any thing that looks like bait.. i use it

  • Gofish'n

    I'm going fishing for catfish tomorrow night.10pm to 5am. I need to know what is the stinkiest bait anyone has used!!!!!!!

    • joey beyrent

      You will do best with live chubs or suckers.

  • Outdoorsman2329

    You can also put powdered cinnamon or salt in your chicken livers a few hours before you go and it will make your livers more tough and harder to throw off your hook

  • catracker

    1 pound of hamburger 2 cans of sardines 1 can of pink salmon and mix together then keep mixin flour until finger doesnt stick to it you can use wheaties instead of flour also. Also Chicken breast mixed with strawberry jello.

  • catfish hero

    hot dog are amazing for catfish

    • ghjjghghj

      hot dogs suck

    • Likeitis

      There are ALOT better baits than that!!!!!

    • elm3

      I’ve caught some huge catfish with hotdogs. They
      are cheap and easy to keep on the hook with no special procedrues.

  • Boring But Effective

    maybe the other commenters had some luck with monkey feet, goat sack, or even soap, but chicken livers gets my vote. this is what i use:

  • berto

    bread soaked in soy and crumbley blue chese in a panty hoes

  • berto

    red wine reduction 12oz filet pan roasted fingerliknk potatoes and colie folwer puree, and a nice glass of wine

  • joey beyrent

    The best bait there is is live suckers or creek chubs to catch big fish. In a good spot you can consistintly catch 15 to 20 pound channel cats and even bigger flatheads. If you want big catfish, use something ALIVE. In late summer or early fall frogs could be great bait. Frogs can be used dead or alive. They both work. Bluegill, Shad, and even small carp or bullhead could work. I never had luck with any stink bait. Crayfish will sometimes work and sometimes wont. Nightcrawlers and leeches will catch catfish, but not the giants.

  • joey beyrent

    Creek chubs or Suckers used alive are best.

  • wildwill

    The key is to keep the bait(what ever you use) on the hook.I use old panty hose.Wrap the bait and hook it on and it want come off.

    • Joe Cab

      Panty hose don’t work. You want the bait to release during a hook up. Learn to cast, learn the chicken liver lob.

      • Cat mandoo

        No, I have never caught anything using the pantyhose method. However I read somewhere there is a medical kind of wrap about the size of a finger that is extremely stretch and more like the fishnet hose. I think I saw it on you tube and it looked very reliable and w/ the holes it’s more natural w/ meat able to stick out. Problem is I haven’t found the wrap yet

  • American

    A thing I've found to be the best for me is get a bucket with a lid and fill it about half way with cracked corn you can get that at most places that cell chicken feed or get chicken scratch and then after its in the bucket fill it with water to where it rises over the corn about 3 inches then let that sit for a week then that will be the host horrible smell ever then you get steam roaled oats and get a bucket and put 3 pounds of the steam foaled oats on there then get a cup or something like that and scoop some of the corn in the oats and then scoop som of the juces in the oats and get that right to where you can pack it and you are ready the way to use it is to get corn pops or something like that and put that on your hook with a weight and pack the oats stuff abkut a ball the size a little smaller than your fist and throw it out there and After about 2 minutes it will break down into a pile and they come in there sucking it all up



    • joey

      Suckers and creek chubs work best

      • CATFISHbeast

        i definitely do not agree with you mystery man…worms and crickets are possibly the worst

    • joey

      If you want to catch 1-2 pound channels, then yes, worms and crickets work best. I use worms and crickets to catch my creek chubs, suckers, and bluegill to get big channels and flatheads.

  • hgdf


    • fga


  • Bowhunter

    Frogs are some of the most overlooked but best bait I have used… Leopard frogs really catch them!!! I thump them in the head then cut the back legs short, cut them in half. The fresh blood and juices gets them. I have caught some 37 s on them. I have tried to freeze them tot use latter, they did not work well at all then.

  • bowhunter

    Anyone tried frozen smelt? I got some at the store with high hopes but was disappointed. I thawed them out and just hooked them on, no luck!! How about you, have you tried them???

  • Jake

    Who has any good catfish bait give me a recipe me Eamil is:

    • bowhunter

      Look on YouTube. " how to make catfish bait." I do not know how they work, but there are some there. Some use strawberry jello, that was surprising to me but made sence latter. Let us know if you find a good one.

  • toyotajo

    I catch shad in a throw net then cut them in half and they work great on 3 to 15lb channels and blues. If I cant get any shad the next best thing is cut up chunks of raw chicken that has been marinated in garlic powder overnight in the fridge. Also, sand fleas work pretty good also.

  • joey

    To catch catfish, finding the best spot is just as important as the bait. I fish mainly in rivers and its important to find a good hole. My favorite river to fish is the Susquehanna river in pa. My favorite two spots are a 20 foot deep hole and a 6-7 foot deep spot at the head of a hole. For bait, I use live minnows wild caught a few days before the trip. In mid summer I use crayfish and minnows. In fall I use frogs and minnows. During the day in late summer I put 2-3 grasshoppers on the hook, cast them into a drift and let it float down. My favorite bait is minnows. One more thing is to use chum. I put cut up fish into a sock, tie it to a rope and throw it out there. Stink baits do not catch big catfish. If they do, you know you didnt catch the biggest fish there. Chicken livers arent good either. Use live minnows or suckers.

    • joey

      I never have luck with dip baits, livers, or stinkbaits in rivers. They are ok in lakes. I dont like dip baits even in lakes though. Two baits that I don't like at all are hot dogs and soap. Soap is the stupidest idea I've ever heard.

      • bowhunter

        You have to have slow moving water for these baits to work or they will get the sent washed out to fast. Even in slow moving water, you must change them every 20 min. Or so. Stink bait works great here in Northern IL. BUT not for flats or large channels. Liver works at times and not at times. Both work best…. When it is hot outside. I would NEVER use soap in OUR WATER EVER!!!!. There is enough nasty stuff in there already. Same thing for WD40. NEVER!!! I have grandchildren that will be fishing here when I am old. Or gone. Lets leave them cleaner water to enjoy than we had, and better fishing.

        • joey

          I agree with everything you said there. I do catch smaller channels on stink baits. The biggest ones I catch are with natural baits like minnows.

        • cat stalker

          Mahogany clams!!!

  • catfisherman

    Has anybody ever caught a catfish through the ice? I was out yesterday and pulled in a couple small 15 inchers. Just wondering if that can happen often.

  • Bowhunter

    I have only caught a few through the ice. While fishing 12 or 15 foot in still water on a lake. IF there is a way to consistently catch cats through the ice I would be willing to listen… I have wondered the same thing.
    Hey cat fisherman, how did you catch yours and on what baits? I caught mine on wax worms.

    • catfisherman

      I got 2 on tipups with shiners and two jigging with grubs. Two weekends in a row I got 2 each time. I fished near brush piles. I'm going again this weekend, I'll let you know if i learn anything new.

      • Bowhunter

        How deep buddy? Where do you live ? I am in N IL.

        • catfisherman

          around 7 feet. I live in northeast Pa. I tried a different lake and got 2 on tipups, 1 on a jigging rap when fishing for walleye and 1 on a glow jig with a small minnow. A glow jig is a jig that if you put a flashlight on it, it glows. I was fishing on an old road bed 10 ft deep. I have a map of the lake and it helps me locate some spots that I wouldnt know about otherwise

  • skyler shaw

    up here in southern wisconsin on the rock river by jhonsin creek is shiners or shad ground up with crawfish and rotten cheese. we also use chicken liver ground up with bread or wheat.

  • Bowhunter

    Here is a tip for those dip bait worms.take your pliers and slightly bend the hooks out. Bend at the curve of the treble. Do not put your pliers on the barb. You will have more hook ups because the hook is now angled out slightly and catch. When they are straight, the hooks just pop out of the cats mouth. … Notice I said to bend the hook slightly. As a over bent hook will make it harder for the cat to take it in thier mouth. And I like deep hook sets.
    I always carry extra heavy line with hooks tied on to retread the worms if they are too deep. And I can retrieve the worm and not the hook. Do you do this???

  • kenneth boone

    I’d your looking for a really good dip bait, try Danny kings catfish bait, I swear by this stuff!!! My first time out with it, I brought home ten bigsize channel cats. If you love catfishing like I do, give it a try…. and no, I am not a spokesperson for Danny kings.

  • CATFISHbeast

    i catfish alot!!…i mostly have success with chunked up perch meat…ive been catching catfish like crazy!!!….soo i would advise u to definitely use that

  • Mike

    Good article. Shad baits work well, especially on out going tides in Chesapeake tidal rivers. I caught 230 lbs of blue cats in 8 hrs ( 130 on day 1, 100 on day 2) from 2lbs to 15, avg 6 lbs. in 6 ft of water on the Potomac. Im gonna adjust my practices for the bigens…

  • willis

    use sunny’s stink bait works awesome always catch some big fish on the mississippi river and the rock river

  • Jay

    I use eel as bait and always catch one no matter what

  • AnthonyAR

    When using soap. Use dove original soap and add garlic powder.
    put it in two zip lock bags to cover the garlic smell. It works well. And with hotdogs. The 100% beef dogs with garlic over them is good too.

    • james

      Down south we use ivory soap on bush hooks. We catch larger cats on it that way

  • Shack.

    I’ve used all kinds of baits. my personal favorite bait to use is creek chubs. what i do is use a Gamagatzu Octopus hook size 6/0 and ill take a chub about 3 inches long and put the point of the hook in its mouth and just curl it around the hook until it gets half way down the tail. after that you step on it slowly, you’ll hear it make a popping noise and when you do, stop! if you step on it to hard your just going to squish it and it wont be worth using. i normally fish with 2 poles at night. at night cat fish are swimming the banks looking for crawfish, so with one pole i only cast out about 5-10 ft from the bank. this last summer i caught a 27.4 pound flat head on the bank fishing on bottom. If your from central ohio like i am, im sure you may have heard about the east monroe falls (rattlesnake falls) what i do there is on my poles ill have my main line that comes through the eyes with out a sinker, then about a foot and a half above the hook ill tie another line and then tie a sinker about 2 ounces on the end and cast out. by doing that when it hits the bottom the sinker goes down to the bottom of the body of water then the hook and bait rises up some and down at the falls where i fish theres always a current so when the water is rushing it moves that bait and makes it look like its alive and wounded and that increases your chances of catching a nice sized cat fish! Fishing at night and early morning is always the best. thats when i normally catch mine. sometimes down where i live they release trout and i go and catch them, then ill cut them up into chunks and use them for cat fishing. another bait i have had some luck on is the strawberry jello and chicken. just buy ya two boxes of strawberry jello and a thing of boneless chicken, cut the chicken into cubes, mine are normally about 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inch then put them into a ziplock bag and then put your jello on top of the chicken then shake it up and massage it down into the chicken and you can take it fishing right after or put it in the fridge for the next day. sometimes ill do somewhat of the same with deer meat, then put garlic salt in the bag with it and put vanilla extract in there and molasses. you can use just about anything to put in your bait. Now, i use bait casters and they have clickers on them. But when i used open face reels what id do to let me know i was getting a bite at night time was either take a piece of styrofoam and rip it about half way up and stick it on your line at the tip of your pole where the slack is and if you see that piece of styrofoam bouncing, that means you are getting a bite! another one is if you dont have any tape, but you got a glow stick. cast your pole out then down in between the reel and your bottom eye pull some slack out and stick your glow stick in the ground angling it away from your rod but not to far into the ground and then put the string under the slant and when you get a bite it will pull the glow stick out of the ground. the last one i know is the pop can trick. put small rocks into an empty pop can and lift the tab up and pretty much do the same thing and when you get a bite it’ll knock the pop can over and rattle them rocks to alert ya! on bobbers, i dont use them. For one, as said earlier i use bait casters with clickers. the next is ive never had any luck using them! That dont mean you shouldnt use them, but when i go to pay lakes i see more people pulling fish out of the ponds with out using bobbers. i just dont see why people would use bobbers when cat fish are bottom feeders! i hope this helps with your fishing trips, good luck cat fishing!

  • big daddy catfish

    To keep chicken liver on my hook I use a small hair net and wrap each piece in it and use a bread tie to keep it from opening

  • kyle

    I live in the east bay by Livermore I have this small creek that ive had a lot of success at. generally I started with some teriyaki chicken tv dinners until one catfish took my ugly stick. since then ive tried to dublicate the teriyaki chicken by gettn raw chicken marinated with teriyaki bbq sauce a lot of garlic salt and some other household seasonings.although right now in the season I haven’t been getting any 2 bite at all ive tried chicken livers and some other baits but to no success. has anyone tried something like this before and if you have any suggestions id b delighted to hear about them.

  • DavidG

    Something I haven’t heard anyone talk about is ,, beef liver,, I live in Texas. I use beef liver a lot. I use chicken liver also. The beef liver hooks better and stays longer. Its good up to about 10 pounds. Small perch or live crawfish and good for the big boys,, Whe have caught them up to 50 and 60 pounds, but average between 20 and 30.

  • the dude

    anyone know where a good spot is or what is good to use around the yuma, az area? new to fishing around here and am completely clueless on where to start or what to use.

    • vic

      Gila river, the canals, use the big goldfish, gluck

    • rodger

      Is there water in Yuma?

  • matthew

    sudden impact fiber bait is my favorite I can usually catch around 75 or on a good day 100 channel catfish on it with a slip bobber rig fishing near rocks during summer

  • ollier5

    have caught numerous catfish with chicken livers..from 1lb up to 12lbs….put a nice chunk on a 1/0 wide gap hook and tie with about 10 wraps of thread around it…this was in the Susquehanna River Pa

  • haw river

    I use live hand sized brim from a river I take them to the lake hooked through the back with a Carolina rig and always get atleast 4 pound channel cats all night

  • Raymond Burch

    Hi all , Mysellf and Brother-Inlaw catfish alot from pounds, lake’s, river and pay pounds. Used everything from bait ball /dough balls, warms all types even nitro’s and live or cut bait. Out of all things I found out what is best to use.. Any bait fish from same water source as trouphy fish .. A side note only other bait that has the same hook up times is (Catalpa Worms) .. Live or Cut works for Bait Fish, Catalpa worms turn inside out with stick. Ok enjoy the info and watch your catch ratio go up..

  • vic

    I fished with a catfish guide on the santee, he used deer hearts he gets from processes, it stays on the hook, I tried it, and injected chicken liver juice in mine, bam, it works, tennessee vic

  • max cadey

    Ive caught many fish in my life but Catfish have always alluded me. There is a Forest Preserve by me in Dupage county illinois that allows Nightfishing (the only one). Since Cats are nocturnal and most active (though you can catch them during the daytime too), i gave it a try. Went 3 nights in a row. Used Nightcrawlers the first two nights and produced nothing. ON the the 3rd night i went with a tried and true bait, Chicken Livers. Before the end of the night i landed 4 channel cats in less than a hour. the smallest being 22 inches and 7 lbs. to the biggest being 27 inches 9 Lbs also pulled a Chris Farley when frantically running into the water chasing my pole when the first one hit. Whent the next night and caught two at 25 inches. Hooked on Catfish right now and intend on focusing on catching more. Also i have been focusing on Carp fishing during the Daytime. Carp haters can say what they want, but they are fun to pull in.

  • rodger

    Little Andy’s. Best Cat bait ever.

  • RedriverRanger

    I was amazed when the old man that ran the bit shop gave me five cents each for large crawfish I brought him. He told me his secret …to put the crawfish in a bucket to dry out and present him fast with a heavy weight and while he make bubbles to adjust it’s the dinner bell. I’ll never forget the lesson ( a quarter will get you 30 pounds of fillets, bragging rights, sell a lot of bait to other would be fishermen, and teach a seven year old crawdad hustler the value of a life long friend and of a secret ) .

  • lili98

    Cut hotdog into slices the put in a zipblock bag and as kool aid then mix it up really well add alot of kool aid so it soaks ito hot dog the store in freezer and let rhaw before use

    • Phatboy

      AGREED!!!!! I use cut dogs….2 packs of cherry Kool-Aid per pack of dogs. I will mix well. Microwave for 2-3min to toughen up skin to stay on hooks better. I have got Flat-blues and channel cats…..15 plus all day long. I also use garlic powder or salt with same results!!!!

  • TJ Catman

    Loggerhead turtle meat and baby birds?? That’s just sick, and really ineffective. Hope you guys are just kidding about those bait ideas. Fellow catmen… please don’t buy into the bullshit. Here’s all you need to know about trophy cat baits:
    1. live bluegills and/or creek chubs
    2. fresh cut shad (I prefer gizzard shad)
    3. fresh chicken livers
    As far as I’m concerned, that’s the holy trinity of catfish baits and will ALWAYS outfish any others. Keep it simple and stick with what works.


    Purina moist and chewy dog food!

  • phileas smith

    hotdogs are amazing for bass bullhead and catfish

back to top