There are many pre-packaged “stinky” baits made specifically for targeting catfish. Catfish live in muddy waters and don’t have the best eyesight. They use their barbels or “whiskers” to smell around muddy bottoms in order to locate dead or decaying prey. So it would seem to make sense that using a malodorous bait is a good strategy for targeting cats.
However, what many top catfish anglers won’t tell you is that the big ones, the trophy-sized fish you can take pictures of and brag to all your friends about, are NOT caught on those stinky baits. Nope, the lunkers like their meat fresh. This In-Fisherman article tells you how to keep your bait fresh to target the big ones.
Fresh, natural baits often are the best catfish baits, but they can be difficult to keep fresh for extended periods. The juices and flavors that make nightcrawlers, catalpa worms, gizzard shad, skipjack herring, crawdads, and other baits irresistible to catfish also make them prone to quickly go from nice to nasty.
Stinkbaits, soured shad, and other malodorous baits catch lots of catfish, especially smaller ones that make their living scrounging for worms, minnows, and anything else they can fit into their mouths. But flatheads, blues, and larger channel cats tend to shop for fresh foods. It’s not that dips and soured shad won’t catch bigger fish at times, but fresh livebait and cutbait are more consistent producers of larger catfish. So the challenge becomes to have a sufficient supply of “fresh” bait on hand if you don’t have time to procure it every time you go fishing, or if that bait is out of season.
Photos: Twin Cities Blog (top); In-Fisherman (above)