If your catfish bait arsenal only includes live or cut bait, it might be time to make room for dough bait. Why? Dough bait is not only a viable option for catfishing, but it can also be the make-or-break back up when other options are not working.
Dough bait is convenient and easy to use. It has staying power in heavy current and in deep, fast water, meaning you do not need to re-bait as often. Dough bait does require a little work up front, but you can make several batches at once and freeze portioned sizes for grab-and-go use.
Dough bait breaks down to three basic ingredients: a base, a thinning agent and additives for scent. When you know the items that are successful for each ingredient category, then you can experiment with various combinations to come up with your own secret dough bait.
Base: The base ingredient keeps your dough bait on the hook. Successful base options include Wheaties, flour, corn flakes, cornmeal, raisin bran flakes, wheat or oats.
Thinning agent: This is what binds your ingredients together. Water is the most common (and easiest) option, but you can use any liquid like Kool-Aid, flavored soda (Big Red), beer, oils like fish, garlic, Anise or shrimp or leftover grease from bacon or hamburger.
Scent additives: This attracts the catfish. The options are endless and they can be used in any combination. These include meat (raw hamburger, chicken livers, minced minnows, Viennese sausage, shrimp, canned tuna), cheese (limburger, parmesan, Velveeta) and spices (cinnamon, garlic, Asafetida). Other scented options like cat/dog food, peanut butter, chicken/beef blood, brown sugar, molasses and vanilla are excellent additives as well.
We have chosen to make a basic six ingredient Wheaties Catfish Dough Bait recipe. It requires minimal ingredients, there is no cooking and it is effective. If you add additional ingredients, make sure that your final product is the consistency of play dough.
4 Cups Wheaties Cereal
1 lb. Hamburger
½ Cup Limburger cheese
1 Tablespoon Garlic
¼ Leftover bacon grease
Combine all ingredients (except the water) into a large bowl. Slowly add water until you reach a doughy consistency. Separate the dough into chunks so that you can work with small amounts at a time. Wrap the extra dough in plastic wrap until you need it. This prevents the batch from drying out.
You can pre-roll bait into 2-inch ovals and keep them in a seal-tight container to toss into your tackle. You can also pre-roll and freeze the entire batch so you always have bait on hand. Some anglers prefer to keep dough in a larger block and mold the pieces around the hook right before use.
DOUGH BAIT IN ACTION
There's a method to applying dough bait so that it is effective. Too much dough and fish will pick at it versus eating it. Bite-size bait is best. The secret is to not apply too much.
Using a treble hook (#4 or #6), grab enough dough bait (2'') to mold around the shank and barely cover the points of the hook. You can also effectively use dough bait on #2, #4 and #6 wide gap hooks.
Once your bait is on the hook, dip it into the water to set it. The water works to paste the ingredients together. Now, you are ready to cast and wait for a fish to strike.