One basic rule in catfishing is to match the hatch when choosing your bait. Put simply, the phrase 'match the hatch' means to utilize bait that mimics the actual feed consumed by the catfish species you are trying to angle. This one easy and effortless tip is guaranteed to help you catch more catfish regardless of condition or circumstance.
Once an angler learns how to throw a cast net, legally, they will save money and always have a plethora of fresh bait. The correct method of throwing a cast net makes it easy to catch live shad, a bait that catfish can not resist.
Take the time to prep your cast net before fishing. When prepared in the correct manner it will be much easier to not only throw, but to also attain more live bait.
A popular angler superstition is that you need to utilize stinky bait from a package in order to catch a catfish. While you will definitely catch several channel catfish species with this pre packaged stinky bait, channel catfish are also highly attracted to non stinky bait as well. One factor to remember when utilizing stinky bait is that flathead and heavyweight blues will not bite on this particular kind of lure mechanism.
Dip and/or Sponge bait are both utilized popularly within the catfish angling world. More often than not these baits are cheese based and stinky. Plus, a dip tube or sponge is needed to administer this type of bait onto your line. The drawbacks of using a dip or sponge bait is the added expense of tackle and extra tools needed to utilize them.
Plain Treble Hooks and felt hat cleaning sponges are a great alternative method to the expensive and unnecessary sponge hooks for sponge baits. All you need to do is cut the sponge bait into smaller chunks and follow by inserting the treble hook shank through the sponge piece. This method actually works better than most sponge hooks and it will save you loads of money in the long run.
Similar to dip/sponge bait is the thicker and wormless Punch bait. Ready to be adhered straight to a bare treble hook, Punch bait is perfect for attracting channel catfish. CJ's Catfish Bait, Sure Shot Catfish Bait, and Sudden Impact Fiber Bait are a few great brands that manufacture quality Punch bait.
Oversized channel catfishes are extremely attune to biting cut bait. Cut bait is a form of cutting native bait fish into chunks. It is a proven fact that larger channel catfishes are more attracted to cut bait than pre packaged baits.
It is fairly easy to make your own blue catfish bait. All you need is some fresh native bait fish either cut up or whole. A few types of native catfish bait include skipjack herring, threadfin shad, and gizzard shad.
Blue Catfish are typically attract to fresh, never frozen, bait. However, frozen bait is better than no bait at all but it is not preferred. Any catfish guide that has at least a decade of experience will tell you that fresh bait is the dividing factor between catching a small amount of blue catfish versus a large amount. Fresh shad will help you catch more catfish every time.
Additionally, it is also fairly simple to make flathead catfish bait. It is important to remember that flathead catfish are predator fish and only feed on fresh, live bait. Thus, some sort of live bait is the preferred preference for catching flathead catfish. All you need is a type of bait fish that will stay hearty and lively on your line for an extended period of time. A few recommended species of bait for flathead fishing include bluegill, perch, mud cats, and brim.
For some reason numerous novel anglers believe that chicken liver is a top bait to lure catfish with, but this fact couldn't be farther from the truth. Sure some catfish will bite your line, however the process is a hassle and not worth the return on investment. You will catch few to none catfish using this specific type of bait. If you must use livers, try turkey liver instead as it is much heartier and guaranteed to catch you more catfish over the usage of chicken liver.
Every single 'big box' angler retail store will try to sell you some sort of mass produced catfish bait like pickled fish, tube bait, and/or pre formed chunks. Do not buy into the hype. Any type of preserved fish bait claims that they are 'magic' but they are actually the farthest thing from it. Good luck catching any species of fish utilizing these types of pre packaged baits.
Channel catfish are extremely receptive to live shrimp. Again, do not purchase the pre packaged bait shrimp from the your local angler retailer. Instead, buy your local grocers whole shrimp for eating. This type of shrimp bait works ten times better than the pre packaged stuff.
Grasshoppers swarm in the summer months and can be easily caught along several shorelines. Catfish love feeding on these popping hoppers so try to utilize them as a match the hatch bait technique.
If you can not easily make your ideal catfish species bait, then purchase a high quality commercial catfish bait instead. There comes a time when you must throw in the towel when concocting your own bait becomes overly time consuming and costly. You will save more money and catch more fish in the long run when simply purchasing a high quality tried and true catfish bait. However, if you are dead set on making your own catfish bait, make sure to check out the Bells of Hell Sink Bait recipe.
Several companies are beginning to come out with products that claim to be catfish bait enhancers. Mostly, these products are scented sprays meant to be added to a certain type of bait. In short, these so called additives and enhancers are a big way to waste your money fast. There is no magic answer to catching catfish and utilizing fresh bait is honestly the best way to catch these whiskered warriors. Although, if you are limited to using frozen bait only, then give these products a try but keep in mind that most situations do not need these over marketed extras.