A long-lived debate amongst catfish anglers concerns which bait is most effective for catching big catfish: stink bait or live bait.
The answer is both.
This is why: Catfish possess a sense of smell more powerful than a bloodhound’s and they target wounded prey with shark-like ferocity.
But this is the bottom line: Stink bait catches the most catfish, but live bait catches the biggest.
Favorite live baits include night crawlers, minnows, crawdads, shad, menhaden and freshwater clams. Bluegill can also be used as live bait where it’s legal to do so. Live baits also include chicken livers, shrimp and cut bait–such as shad, anchovies, carp, sardines or mackerel–even those these baits aren’t technically “live.”
The type of live bait used should be dictated by the type of catfish you’re fishing for. Flatheads are attracted to bluegill, whereas big blue or channel catfish prefer minnows, shad or menhaden. Catching big catfish can be as easy as using bait like crawdads and waterdogs.
If you’re using cut bait, it can be aged for a few days to until it becomes sour bait, which adds stink bait attraction. Just place a few chunks in a canning jar and leave an inch of air space below the lid. Add a few drops of water, close the lid fairly loosely, and bury it in the ground in a sunny location for a few days. It’s quite stinky, but it’s a delicacy for catfish. Sour bait is particularly effective in early spring, when catfish are naturally feeding on other fish that have died over the winter.
Anglers typically use single hooks for live bait. But treble hook rigging is also possible.
As for stink baits, they come in a variety of pastes, dips and nuggets. If you’re adventuresome, you can experiment with making your own, or they can be purchased.
Dip baits require a special lure, which is usually a treble hook equipped with a sponge to absorb the stinky bait. Paste baits are typically squeezed from a tube into a soft plastic lure that’s attached to double or treble hooks. And of course, nuggets are threaded directly onto single or treble hooks. Limburger cheese is considered a type of stink bait!
Stink baits can be placed on a leader behind a swivel and a sliding sinker. Alternatively, they can be placed off a three-way swivel or dropper loop above a weight, or simply on the main line with split shot. The variety of rigs, swivels and weights used is basically the same as those used with live bait.
Then, of course, you can enjoy the best of both worlds and double your chances of success by dipping live bait into stink bait! Then you’re likely to catch a load of fish and the big one. Many locales allow using multiple fishing rods or multiple-hook rigs, so you can even use stink bait on one rig and live bait on the other to experiment with which is working better at a particular location.
Beyond stink bait and cut bait, some anglers use dough bait. They may roll white bread into dough balls or include cereal flakes or flour in homemade stink bait recipes. Carp are attracted to dough baits, and catfish sometimes school with carp.
Some anglers have reported catching big catfish on nothing at all–just a shiny hook! Shiny lures and spinners work, too.
Catfish are also attracted by chumming, but this method is not legal everywhere. Chum can be purchased in cans, blocks or bags. Other effective chum includes cheap canned cat (as in feline) food, finely chopped bait, ground-up fish innards or even road kill in a weighted burlap sack.
So whether you use live bait or stink bait depends on whether you want to land that trophy fish or need to feed an army of people! For more great tips on catching big catfish, check out the blog below.
To read more great catfishing tips check out this site Catching Big Catfish