Hi, Luke Here with CatsandCarp.com and I am going to show my top 8 favorite catfish baits
and walk you through their pro’s and con’s. Over the years I have been very fortunate
to catch a lot of great catfish from bank and from boat, from lake and from rivers.
And I have learned a few things about bait. First off, there is no bait that works good
in every single situation. Different types of catfish and different types of water require
different types of bait. And while shad may catch much bigger blue catfish than chicken
livers, there is a time when you want to use chicken livers and not shad. And there is
a time when hotdogs works better. And there is a time when worms work betters and there
are times when they don’t Now obviously there are many catfish baits
out there, but to make my top 8 this must be a bait that consistently catches catfish
in many different places and many different times of year. I also wanted baits that work
well for the different types of catfish: channel catfish, blue catfish, white catfish, flathead
catfish and bullheads. To make the list, a bait must also be easy
to find. For instance, cicadas are an awesome channel catfish bait, but I didn’t put cicadas
on the list because they are not available most of the time. Live eels are another great
catfish bait that didn’t make the lists, because they are only found in certain bodies
of water and only a few states allow you to fish with eels.
Number 1: Number one on the list is schooling bait fish.
When I say schooling bait fish I am talking about. Gizzard shad, threadfin shad, American
shad, hickory shad, skipjack, herring, mooneye and golden eye.
Large schools of bait fish are a key ingredient in growing large catfish. Almost every body
of water that contains trophy sized catfish also contains large schools of bait fish.
And the size and population of the bait are linked to the size of the catfish.
The James River in Virginia produces insane numbers of trophy catfish. 60-80 lb catfish
are regularly caught and many catfish guides on the James will give you half your money
back if you don’t catch a 30lber or bigger. The James River produces huge numbers of trophy
blue catfish because the river contains huge schools of massive gizzard shad as well as
hickory shad, American shad and herring. The gizzard shad on the James River are also much
larger than the average gizzard shad, normally 1-3 lbs each. Big shad make big catfish.
In places where there are lots of schooling bait fish, the catfish start their lives eating
anything they can fit in their mouths. But as the catfish grow, more and more of their
diet becomes these schooling baitfish. In many rivers school baitfish make up 90% of
the trophy catfish’s diet. Large catfish, choose locations based on their
access to these bait fish, and that is what they are looking for and that is what they
are feeding on. Fresh caught baitfish produces more trophy catfish than any other catfish
bait. Schooling bait fish are also easy to catch
in large numbers. Throwing a cast net is the most common way to catch these fish. In some
places gill nets are allowed. Snagging, Dip nets and an umbrella nets can also be used
effectively where it is legal. Usually, I can catch all the shad I need for the day
in 30 minutes of less. For more information about catching and freezing shad for catfishing
check out this video. Mooneye, Golden eye, herring, American shad
and Hickory shad will actually bite a hook. Sabiki rigs, small twisty tailed grubs and
shad darts are popular lures. Small chunks of worms or crickets under a bobbers can work
good for mooneye and golden eye. Steve Douglas has a great video demonstrating how to catch
mooneye with bait and a bobber. The biggest down side to these bait fish is
that many of them are particularly fragile and are hard to keep alive if you want to
use them for live bait. For instance, usually about half your gizzard shad will die in the
live well within an hour or two of catching them unless you are extremely careful and
have a large well oxygenated live well. There are some commercially available additives
that you can place in your live well to keep these fish alive longer.
Number 2: Spinney bait fish. Spinney bait fish are fish that have spinney
dorsal fins, like blue gill, sunfish, pumpkin seed, white bass and bullheads.
These bait fish are easy to catch. They work as bait in almost any place that has big catfish
and they are all very tough so they make excellent live bait. These types of live bait fish will
catch all four species of catfish, the only difference is the preferred sizes. Because
live bait is so popular with flathead fisherman, many flathead guides prefer spinney bait fish
over more fragile bait fish, like shad. The best ways to catch spinney bait fish is
with a rod and a reel. A little bait under a bobber can get you a ton of bream. Check
out this other video for information about catching bluegill on slim jims and how to
keep them alive for catfishing. Fish traps, like this four leaf clover trap
can also catch a load of blue gill. We also have a great instructional video about how
to make your own four leaf clover trap. The biggest downside to live bait is that
prep time in catching it and keeping it alive. And when using live bait make sure you obey
local laws and catch your bait from the same body of water where you will be fishing so
as to avoid spreading diseases, parasites of introducing non native fish.
Number 3: Rough fish. Rough fish are non-sports fish that aren’t
commonly fished for. Carp, goldfish, suckers, quillbacks, carp suckers, fall fish, chubs
and buffalo. These fish make fabulous live bait and they tend to draw in really big flatheads.
On average, most of these fish can get pretty big, so you have a range of sizes to choose
from. You can use a baby carp that is only 4 inches long or you can fish for trophy flatheads
with a 4 lb live carp. However, this variation in size can also be
a problem. Not only do you have to catch your bait, but you have to catch them in the correct
size. If you are fishing for 4 to 5 lb channel catfish, you don’t want a 10” fish. You
want something a few inches long. Additionally, these fish tend not to be schooled
up or thickly concentrated so it can take a long time to catch enough bait. I usually
need about 12 fish to go night fishing with live bait. It takes me less than 30 minutes
to catch 12 shad, but it can take me an entire day to find that many fall fish or baby carp.
Rough fish can be caught using rod and reel, cast nets, seines, and fish traps. In rivers
where there are lots of fall fish, I like to use a small white soft plastic minnow on
an ultra light rod. I find that worms or a seine net work best for suckers. Buffalo and
carp can be caught on sweet corn or cast nets. Because these most rough fish don’t have
spines and they are bigger than most bait fish, I think catfish prefer these fish over
blue gills or white bass, but because these fish are harder to consistently catch and
keep alive, they are not a bait source that most of us can rely on.
Number 4 Boilies Boilies are small boilied balls of bait that
are used by carp fisherman and European catfisherman. Unlike a lot of American catfish baits, boilies
are not messy and generally non-perishable. Boilies come in all flavors and a variety
of sizes. Boilies are so effective, that most US carp
fisherman have trouble keeping catfish off their hooks long enough to catch a carp. My
favorite boilie flavors are Crab & Crayfish, Halibut and plum.
The biggest down side to boilies is their cost (About $5-$10 for a 2 Kg bag). You can
make your own boilies or buy them online and I will include links in this video’s description.
Generally boilies are attached to your hook with a hair rig, a baiting needle and a bait
stop. I have several videos showing how to tie a hair rig and how to attach a boilie.
Boilie work incredibly well for channel catfish and small blue catfish, but occasionally they
will work for flatheads too. I caught this 53 lb flathead on a single boilie.
Number 5: Boilied feed corn. Boilied feed corn is great for nice channel
cats and small blue catfish. Boilied feed corn is super cheap. I can buy a 50 lb bag
of dried feed corn for $12. That 50 lb bag will make about 200 lbs of wet bait. That
is a lot of catfish bait. To prepare feed corn, simply soak it for 12
hours and then boil it until it squishes between your fingers. I then chum piles of feed corn
and cast a small #1 to #4 hook with two kernels of corn on it. A hair rig also work really
well when fishing with feed corn. I catch a lot of carp and catfish with this
technique. Some people like to ferment their corn first,
but I prefer it fresh. Sour wheat, is a very similar chum. Its soaked
and fermented wheat or barely grain that is used a catfish chum. I prefer corn because
it’s cheaper and you can use it as a hook bait as well as a chum but wheat does work
really well also. The biggest downside to this bait is the preparation
to make it and the fact that it tends to not work well for bullheads or flatheads or large
blue catfish. Number 6: Chicken Liver
Chicken livers are a classic bait for channel catfish and small to medium sized blue catfish.
Chicken liver really puts out a strong scent trail and it catches a lot of fish. The biggest
problems with liver are that they come off the hook so easily. Some people prefer rooster
liver or beef liver because it’s a little bit tougher though harder to find. You can
prevent chicken liver from coming off the hook by using bait bags, surgical gauze, panty
hose, curing the liver, bait thread or even a the egg loop knot. For more information
watch our video on the 6 best ways to keep liver on the hook.
Chicken livers are also extremely perishable, they go rancid quite quickly so if I don’t
end up using the liver pretty quickly I end up throwing it out. Some people like to ferment
their livers but my experience is that it is just a great way to make a huge mess without
making your bait any better. Number 7: is Hot dogs.
Hot dogs are a really nice channel catfish bait without the mess or perishability of
chicken liver. They also stay on the hook better. However, I don’t think hotdogs are
as consistently good as chicken liver or these other bait and they tend to catch smaller
catfish. I like to cut up my hot dogs into sections
and marinate them in jello mix and garlic powder. This toughens, preserves and flavors
the hot dogs a little bit better. Number 8: Earthworms
Earthworms are fabulous for bullheads and small channel catfish but their biggest problem
is that all fish love earthworms. You end up losing a lot of bait to bluegill, trout,
bass, perch and really tiny catfish. Paying for your earthworms can also be a big downer,
but if you want to learn how to catch your own earthworms check out some of our videos
about catching earthworms with dish soap, walnuts, electricity or grunting.
Well any rate, I hope this list of my top 8 catfish baits gives you some ideas but I
also hope it gets you thinking about mixing up your baiting routine. There is a time and
a place for almost every catfish bait, and the trick it not to only use one bait, but
to learn when and where to use each of the different baits.
Thanks for watching and if you want to see more videos from the Catfish and Carp YouTube
channel check out How to catch catfish with boilies and How to catch tons of blue gill
with slim jims. Thanks for watching and don’t forget to click “Subscribe”.