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Fishing for Catfish

The Best Bait For Catfish

If you’ve ever been to the South, chances are you’ve eaten catfish. Plentiful, fairly easy to catch, feisty fighters, and just plain tasty, these muddy water dwellers are a favorite of fishers. Fishing for catfish techniques we offer can help save you time and frustration, so check out our valuable catfishing tips.

As many catfish as there are, and there are a lot, that’s how many articles and web sites you can find discussing the best bait for catfish. However, it’s really not that complex. Simply put, if it lives near the bottom of whatever area you are fishing, chances are catfish will eat it.

Whether you’re fishing for catfish from shore or from a boat, the first step is finding out what catfish in that area eat.  Worms and minnows are a favorite in many areas, as are stinkbaits. Catfish are, after all, bottom feeders. So let’s look into this fascinating fish and see if by the end of this article you can’t learn everything you need to know to host your own catfish fry or skillet.

Catfish Fry or Skillet - Bait for CatfishFishing for Catfish – Pick a time and place and go

Catfish thrive in a variety of water systems. You can find them in shallow, warm ponds as well as cold, fast rivers. While different species like varying habitats, there are general areas where you can almost always find catfish.

Flathead catfishing is what most people think of when they think of catfish. Flatheads, also known as known as yellow cats, mud cats, shovelhead cats, Johnnie cats, and appaluchion, are found throughout the Southern USA.

Catfish are naturally nocturnal, using the whiskers on their faces to feel along banks for food. Since they hunt mostly by feel and smell, you can find them in muddy rivers and along flats, bars, shorelines, and weedy areas.

If you are fishing for catfish during the day, look for them in muddy water areas like a tributary and its overflow. Again, think dark, which means deep structures like river bends or the base of drop-offs are great spots to find catfish. Finally, always consider a deep hole and cover areas, like standing timber and deep weed edges.

Best Catfish Bait? Think Stink

The catfish world record is held by a Taiwanese fisherman who landed the nine-foot-long, 646 pound monster using a net. Assuming you’re not fishing in Thailand, and also not using a net, perhaps we should look just a little smaller.

In the USA, the world record for a catfish was a 57-inch, 143 pound behemoth that was landed with a 30-pound test line – that’s right, 30-pound – in Virginia. Other large catfish weighing over 100 pounds have been caught all along the Mississippi river, even down into the Texas Panhandle.

What all those who are willing to disclose their secret have said, is that the bait they used moved and stank. As I wrote earlier, catfish use their feelers and sense of smell to hunt. So wiggling worms and stinking bait are sure to attract them.

Some common bait for catfish include live worms, chicken livers, crawfish, frogs, and minnows. That’s just the live bait. Do a Google search for Catfish Bait and you are likely to be scrolling through options for a month. However, most successful anglers agree that catfish love the stink. This beauty was caught with a spinning gear.

fishing for catfish - spinning gear bait

The Old Stinky Pinkie – Catfish Fishing Rigs

So now that you have a night crawler and some stink bait, the next question is what type of rig you need to use. Rigging for catfish depends on where you’re fishing. Just like any fishing rig, the environment dictates the technique.

Most catfishing techniques call for a bit of weight. This gives better casting distance and more accurate placement of your bait. Place a lead shot six-to-twelve inches above the hooks will drop the line to the bottom but keep the bait accessible.

If there’s a current, cast alongside a snag and the bait will move slowly across the bottom and around the perimeter. This is also a good rig to bait catfish in shallow flats and lakes.

Despite their size, catfish rods are relatively light and agile. The most popular are made with e-glass as they are lightweight, durable, and affordable. While you need a light rod, it also has to be sturdy enough to hold up to the fight a catfish brings to the table. The rod below is a spinning rod, which helped bring in this gorgeous catfish.

Best Catfish Poles and Spinning RodsComposite rods are also popular, however these will cost you a lot. So unless you’re looking to land a record breaker, you’re just as good, if not better, with a solid e-glass rod.

Catfish lures are almost another article entirely, since they range from $5 to $500. However, it really boils down to the same thing as live bait – movement and smell. There are scented lures specifically made for catfish that work great. In addition, there are lures with pockets for stinkbait built right in.

How to catch catfish – Now you know

So how do you catch these sought after beauties? Find an area, decide if you want to do night or day fishing, get the right rod, the right rig, and some bait, and you are off to the races.

Catfish fishing tips abound, but they all come down to the same few thoughts – keep your line to the bottom, let it drift, make it move and make it smell bad. And it wouldn’t be a Rusty Angler article if I didn’t write about how to do it on the cheap.

Did you find that fishing pole you want but realized a good composite rod is $500? Ouch! That just won’t work here, especially when you can get that rod, and others like it, for a whole lot less with a good fishing giveaway. Check out trout fishing tips here, too.

I’m also a fan of fishing promotions, where a company like Shakespeare might be giving away a free Ugly Stick to the first few hundred visitors to their new site. There’s also fishing giveaways from companies who want to get their new products on the market.

Fishing sweepstakes are becoming more popular as well, as the internet hooks anglers into buying gear online. These sweepstakes allow marketers to target their rigs to the fishers who actually use them.

So win a little, buy a little, and get out there and get some cat. A quick deep fry in corn meal, some Tabasco sauce, and the veggies of your choice, and you’ve got the makings for a meal that’s only missing me.

Happy fishing for catfish, folks!