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Catfish Fishing Gear & Accessories

5 Great Catfish Baits For Spring Fishing

by Stephen D. Carpenteri   |  April 24th, 2012 27

Most fishermen consider catfish a great summertime target, but catfish eat the year ’round and can be caught in early spring if you use the proper bait and tackle.

No matter what the time of year, catfish do most of their feeding within inches of the rocks, mud and gravel bottoms of lakes, ponds and rivers. The occasional catfish is caught by fishermen using lures to tempt other species, but 90 percent of whiskerfish are suckers that will fall for a wide variety of live, dead or cut baits.

Here’s a look at five sure-fire spring catfish baits that are cheap, plentiful and easy to use.

  • Jake Hohl

    Your pictures are of flatheads, while all the baits ,except the live fish, will get you blues and channels. Over 90% of a flatheads diet is live critters. I have fished for cats for over 50 years, both for sport and commercially, as well as being a trained biologist. I do know what I am talking about. Your bait series is good info, but misleading to the fisherman who thinks they are going to catch flatheads and is not aware of a flatheads dietary preferences. Any fisheries biologist worth their salt knows my words are factual.

    • JigHead

      For the most part the article was about catfish in general. It did talk about using live bait on page 2. I liked the article but I guess it could have gone a step further to included catfish species specific baits.

    • Guest

      Im sorry, but what "picture" has the flathead?? 2 & 3 are just perch and a packaged bait. 4 & 5 aren't flatheads either!!! Yes you might know what they eat, but you sure as hell don't know what they look like!! maybe you have different pictures than the rest of us!!

      • GetRdone

        I think the pictures are rotating because they were Flat Heads earlier.

  • fishwalton

    I'm not a catfish angler, but this is true about diet of the flathead. I have friends who are avid flathead anglers and their bait is live bream. Article should emphasis the photos are flatheads and they prefer live bait. Flatheads are becoming a real problem in the Florida Panhandle since their favorite food are sun fish. Our bream population is feeling the pressur where flatheads live.. In Florida it's against the law to release a flathead. Catch one and keep him is the rule.

  • GetRdone

    Hot dogs and cooked shrimp work good also and if you get hungry while you're fishing, you can eat your bait!

  • me3401

    I'm fairly successful at catching eating size blues and channels. I use soured corn (used to use wheat but that seemed to attract more carp) as a chum. Then I fish with a dough bait that does not really smell bad that I make myself.

    3 parts flour
    3 parts milled then sifted cotton seed
    1 part corn mazza
    tablespoon of yeast

    You have to put the chum out fairly regulary before the fish come it. But after 2 – 3 days of chumming, the action is great. I usually fish in 25 foot water around some structure.

  • Chad Y.

    I have been fishing for years and my geatest channel cat and bullhead catches always come from using hotdogs, a chunk 1 to 2 inches long works great! Also I have had great success from taking a can of dogfood or sloppy joe and filling it with holes, throw it out tied to a rope or line so you can later retrieve it, and just fish close to it.

  • Chris E

    I discovered a great catfish bait by accident last summer: ordinary grocery-store shrimp, oven-baked in a marinade of Italian salad dressing and then left in the fridge in the remaining marinade liquid overnight. Basically the leftovers from dinner the wife made. I think it might work just as well or maybe even better without being baked. We caught catfish non-stop using the leftover shrimp. We also caught largemouth, including a 3-pounder that took a shrimp hanging under a bobber. Not as messy as you might expect and the shrimp are tough enough to stay on the hook a good while.

  • john

    That is a flathead on one page and a blue or a channel on the other. The guy was just showing off the pictures and flathead will eat dead bait from time to time. You can never say what something want do. I have had a 5lb bass jump in my boat in a shallow pond. Anything is possible.

  • Big John

    I use to fish for cats a lot…mostly in large farm ponds…my main bait was chicken livers but it was hard to keep them on the hook…on the way to a pond one day I stoped at a local bait shop…Talking to the guy there He said He only sells Rooster Livers …of course I laughed at him but bought a container anyway thinking He was pulling my leg…Well He was not…They were much darker in color full of blood and very firm…Sometimes I could catch 2 or three nice Channel cats on one bait before changing.Even large slab sided Bream would eat them too….Iam now a believer of Rooster Livers…they freeze very well so when I go past His shop I buy about 4 pints and freeze them.Take them out as needed being frozen to start with on hot days keeps them fresh a lot longer…I have also used them in larger lakes with success…..chum up deep holes with Rice and drop down the liver with a couple juicy night crawlers on a treble hook….watch out 20lbs and up cats mostly blue cats…Big John….Athens Ga

  • Jake Hohl

    This is for Guest…ALL of the original pictures posted were of flatheads. I have taken more flatheads in one net load while commercial fishing the Mississippi than most anglers have seen in their lifetime…so I most certainly know what flaheads look like. You need to tone it down. And to are correct that you can never say never..but flatheads will take live bait over dead material over 90% of the time. Credible study after credible study has shown that fact for over 40 years. Checking stomach contents also verifies their over whelming preference for living creatures. I was merely pointing out to the average catfish angler that by using live bait their chances of catching a flathead increases by over 9 times. Their preference for live bait is the reason their flesh is more the color of a bullheads rather than white like blues and channels. And to Jighead….keep up the well written informative articles.Good fishing to all.

  • charles

    another trick that works well with livers is this. Freeze them, then use a duo lock type snap that you can add and remove the hook with. stick a frozen/thawing liver on the shank of the hook, then attach the hook to the duolock. This allows you to cast the liver easily and far without it flying off the hook. It thaws in the water and stays on the hook nicely. Especially effective under a bobber close to the bottom. Caught my biggest channels this way.

  • Debra Nelson Andrysiak

    Fellas, this is not a comment but a question. Maybe you can help? I have a 1 acre farm pond that has been stocked for nearly 8 years. I have caught nothing! I been trying to catch fish for years and nothing works. "I've tried it all." They scatter when I cast. Anyway I've been trying to catch one of the 3 ft. cats or bigger that I see nearly everyday. Bout ready to shoot it. (just kiddin) I wanna catch that beast on a line. Any suggestions that will help me catch one of these monsters?

    • Chad Y.

      Have a little patience with them, cast a bait listed above below a slip bobber where you see them often, then give it some time for them to start cruising around again, they will find it for sure if they swim thru that area often, you could also try a tight line on the bottom in that area, sometimes it might take them a while, if there a flathead catfish use live bait, a shiner or small bluegill…even a goldfish will work.

      • Debra Nelson Andrysiak

        Thank you. I'll try the goldfish. Although I set a a line from island to shore and put 50 hooked baits. Bluegill & liver. Nothing in 3 days.

        • Cary Duncan

          try using no wieght. just hook the bluegill behind the dorsal fin and cast him out there and the him swim around. you might even get some surface breaks

        • CJ Whit

          check with your DNR because goldfish are illegal in some states even if it is a private pond

        • Jameshenry

          Derbra……… Try brining the cats to ya by chumming with dry dog or popcorn whe the cats get used to feeding on this try a wet ball of the dry dog food on a line with out any weight ya should get you three footer have fun

  • Carl Harris

    I am really surprised that soft-shelled crayfish did not make this list. Catfish will generally bite them on days when they won't touch anything else. They are far and away the best bait to use if you want to fill up your stringer, and much easier to fish with than livers or stinkbaits.

  • zach2527

    this might sound crazy but during summer me and some buddies where fishing on the river boat docks we were using chicken liver having some success but these guys across the way was catching monster flatheads and blues im talking like trophy size fish here so i asked them what they were using and they swear by using live mice? said they been using them for years and always seem to catch huge cats, wondering if yall heard anything like that

  • jesse

    shrimp,catawba worms, rooster liver, small

    live bream THE BEST baits i have found.

  • Anthony

    I caught 5 12 pound cat fish using this in the same day !

    1. Hot dogs any kind
    2 . Chicken powder that comes in romen noddles
    3. Get a bowl pour powder over them make sure all of them have some
    4. Get the chesse you put on pizza parmation cheese
    5. Sprinkle that on them
    6. Pour a lot of vinger over them let them soak for 30 minutes
    In a closed container then take them out hook them up and go fishing (works any were you fish) make sure to do bite size

  • isaac

    do i us live bait?

  • sean

    iv been fishing a the arkansas river for about 5 years and iv only caught catfish about 8 pounds what bait do you think i should use to catch a catfish at least 15 to 20 pounds can anyone plz tell me what bait i should use

  • sean

    i have been fishing in the arkansas river not far my my house and iv only caught catfish about 5 pounds can anyone tell me what bait i should be using so i can catch a catfish about 15 to 20 pounds because the catfish that i have been catching are not very big and i have to catch at least 8 to equal a mill for my family

    • fishermens

      warm and catfish bait you can catch bigger fish

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