Catfishing has gained more and more popularity in the United States over the past ten years and continues to grow in popularity each year. With the increased popularity comes lot of online discussion and face-to-face interactions with anglers wanting to learn more about catfishing.
Catfish baits are one of the most popular topics discussed by both newer anglers as well as veteran catfish anglers as well. It seems that everyone is always on the quest to find the perfect catfish baits for their next catfishing trip. It’s an infinite quest to find that one secret bait or potion that is going to make the difference in their success catching fish.
Many people have a lot of preconceived notions about catfish baits that have been passed on for generations and when most people thing of bait for catfishing they think of nasty stinking concoctions that churn your stomach at the first “whiff” of them. These are most commonly referred to as “stink bait” by the uninformed angler.
Choosing the right catfish bait has many variables and the first and foremost is the species that the angler chooses to target. While most people refer to catfish as simple “catfish” there are several different species of catfish native to the United States and each different species has different food preferences, feeding patterns, and habitats. Choosing the right bait for your target prey first involves narrowing down the species one intends to fish for.
“Stink bait” goes hand-in-hand with one popular species: the channel catfish, which is well known for preferring these traditionally-prepared catfish baits. One shouldn’t assume, however, that these prepared stinky concoctions are the only table fare that this species will consume. There are many effective bait options that one can use for catching this species of fish that don’t have a foul smells to them at all, even popular prepared baits.
The flathead catfish is another species of catfish and it feeds almost exclusively on live forage that are native to its water. Common baits to catch flathead cats are any type of natural live baits like perch, blue gill, sunfish or even mudcats (another species of catfish). These baits are all traditionally fished live.
The blue catfish is one of the species that has really grown in popularity. This species is a popular target for anglers because it is known to grow to incredible sizes (the current world record is 143 lbs), has a ferocious strike and is known for putting up a good fight. Some anglers have success targeting this species with “stinky” bait but as a general rule the experienced anglers shy away from these types of bait for this species.
Blue catfish of substantial size and numbers are commonly only caught on fresh dead baits found native to their waters in either cut or whole form. It is common for fish like threadfin and gizzard shad, skipjack herring, carp, drum and buffalo to be used to target this species. Many fishermen choose to use a smaller fish in whole as their catfish bait, but even more popular is to take one of these aforementioned fish and cut it into chunks or strips. This is referred to as cut bait.
Always consider the species of catfish you intend to target when you are heading out to do any catfishing, and make sure you choose the right bait for your desired species. Don’t assume that just because you are targeting catfish you have to choose catfish baits that stink. Depending on the species and the water bodies you fish, there may be many options available to you that don’t smell bad at all.
Image courtesy Texas Catfish Guide