Baits to Lure Catfish to your Hook

For some people, there’s nothing like standing on the bank of a creek or stream, trying to hook a catfish or two. Catfish put up a good fight and are fun to catch. If you use the proper bait, you can experience the thrill of the catch.

Shrimp, also known as prawns, are great bait for catfish. Choose the size of the bait you wish to use and then use them whole or cut them in half. The shell can either be left on or removed. Shrimp can be used in strong current, for vigorous casting or be left to drift without fear of the bait being lost. You can buy shrimp in the seafood area of the local grocery store, or at a fish store. Shrimp work best for catching catfish from early spring to late fall.

Crawdads are also known as crawfish. They are a primary food source for catfish in some areas. Live crawdads work well, but the meat from the tail makes excellent catfish bait. Remove the white meat from the tail and place it on your hook. Still fishing is the best technique to use when using crawdads for bait. Don’t use a bobber because crawdads are hard to keep on a hook. Crawdads will bring great results from early spring to late fall. Crawdads can be bought at most bait and tackle shops in the southern US.

Another excellent catfish bait is a clam. These will lure catfish year ‘round. For best results use fresh clams, though frozen or processed work well. If catfish are biting, clams will lure them to your hook. Clams are especially productive when fishing for catfish on a warm summer night.

Cut Bait
Cut bait refers to a wide variety of fish bait. Some of the most popular are anchovies, mackerel, minnows, sardines and shad. Where allowed by law, bluegill is a deadly catfish cut bait. You can chunk or fillet you cut bait, depending on which you prefer.

Either live or dead minnows work well for luring catfish all year ‘round. Live minnows also attract bass, so if you are a serious catfish angler, be sure to kill minnows before setting them on your hook. Dead minnows can be used with a bobber in the spring and summer or for drift fishing throughout the entire year. Minnows can be purchased at most bait and tackle shops or you can use a net and catch your own.

Nightcrawlers, also known as dew worms, make great catfish bait, as do garden worms and minicrawlers. In the winter and spring, they work well to lure catfish when creeks and drainage ditches are pushing muddy water toward a lake. Use weights that will allow the worm to drift in the current along the bottom. This presents the worm naturally to catfish. Minicrawlers and nightcrawlers are available at bait and tackle shops and some variety stores in fishing areas. If you prefer garden worms, use a flashlight to catch your own before dawn on the day of your fishing trip.

Stink Bait
Stink bait is aptly named. It stinks terribly. Catfish love stink bait and it’s easy to make.

Stink Bait Recipe
What you will need:

A five-gallon pail.
Five pounds of old cheddar cheese.
Three pounds of chicken livers with lots of blood.
Hot water.


Cut cheese into small pieces and place in the five-gallon pail.
Pour in hot water.
Mash cheese and water to make a thick paste.
Place chicken livers and the blood they came in, in a blender that is no longer used. Grind to a fine pulp.
Pour pulped chicken livers into the cheese/water mixture.
Squeeze the sides of the bucket inward and cover with an airtight lid.
Set outside in the sun for 3 to 5 days to ripen.
Mix in flour to make dough.
Roll into balls for bait.
This mixture smells putrid after it has set in the sun, but will bring catfish to your hook within minutes.

Miscellaneous Baits
Catfish will eat just about anything, so almost anything can be used as catfish bait. They will bite on hotdog pieces, kernel corn, pieces of ripe cheese, bread balls, salmon eggs, bologna, plastic worms, pieces of beef or pork liver, crank bait, leeches, grubs and plastic worms. No matter what type of bait you choose, if the catfish are biting, it won’t be long until you’ve landed a few.