So you want to go catch a catfish. Great, they are a great fish to go after as they live in just about all waters in the U.S. But what is the best bait to catch them on? Well, there are as many opinions on this as there are refugees trying to cross the board of the United States illegally. I have been fishing for over forty years. here are some of the best baits I know of to catch catfish on.
The first thing that you must address before deciding what type of bait to use; is what type of catfish you are you trying to catch. Because what type of bait you choose, depends on what type of catfish you are fishing for. In the United States, there are three primary types of catfish; Channel cats, Blues cats, and Yellow Cats (also called Appaloosas or Flatheads). Each one prefers a different type of bait. let take a look at each of the three species and their eating habits.
Channel Cats: Channels are scavenger fish. They are the buzzards of the water. They like really smelly pungent baits. They will eat anything as long as it is it sticks. You can catch channels on a piece of sponge soaked in motor oil, a chunk of Ivory soap, etc. The most common bait is chicken livers, blood baits like Catfish Charlie and stink bait like Danny King Catfish Punch Bait. One of the best baits for them though is shad gizzards. You have probably never heard of these, because they are extremely rare and if you can find them they are $15 a pint. Or if you can throw a net, you can catch your own gizzard shad and harvest your own. But there is no better bait for Channel cats.
EXTRACTED SHAD GIZZARDS
Blue Cats: Blue cats are also a scavenger fish, but they do not like stinky stuff as much as Channels. They prefer fresh cut bait, especially fresh shad. They also like to bite bait that is suspended off the bottom. One of the best places to catch blue cats is along a rock shower, like a dam. The best way to catch them it float a piece of fresh shad on out about 15 feet from the bank. Tie on a nice crappie Balsa Spring Bobber and with a 4/0 Octopus Hook set down about four feet from the bobber. Cast it out ten to fifteen feet offshore and let it float along. You will catch Blues.
Good Type of Shore to Catch Blue Cats
Bobber Setup for Blue Cats
Yellow cats: Unlike Channels and Blues, yellow cats are not a scavenger fish. They are a predatory fish like a largemouth bass. You will never catch one on stinky bait, and only very rarely on fresh cut bait. Yellows like it to be alive and moving. If it is alive and swimming and they can fit it in their mouth, they will eat it. The problem with Yellow cats is that don't eat every day. They might only eat once or twice a week. You can have the best bait for them on earth and they will not bite it. They also bite very differently than most fish. They do not just grab it and take off. They might come in and bite and kill it first and then, just site there for 10 and 15 minutes before picking it up again and eating it. This is why most people miss them. They pull their lines in after the first bite and move the bait from where the Yellow cats.
If you are going to fish for Yellow cats, the rule is, "Go big or go home". You seldom catch a small one and they are an aggressive fighter. You need stout rod like the 7-foot Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger. Match this beautiful rod up with a nice fishing reel like the Penn Squall SQL30LW or the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 7000 C, slap some 40lb mono or 80 braid on it and you are ready to go. The best setup to us for yellow cats is called the sunken bobber. In this rig you will need a heavy lead weight (2 or 3 oz) and a three-way swivel. The idea is to keep live fish suspended about a foot off the bottom and allow it to swim freely. Refer to the illustration below.
One of the best baits for Yellows is a Pumkinseed Sunfish like this one below. But you can use any live fish as long as it will stay alive for a very long time. Bullhead catfish are also another great bait, as well as carp. Fish for yellow cats at night in no more than 10 feet of water on a sandy bottom.
Sunken Bobber Setup