Making your own catfish bait, often called dip bait, is easy and inexpensive. All you need are a few simple ingredients and a strong stomach. To make the bait, combine all of the ingredients in a 5-gallon bucket, mix them together and store the finished bait in jars or zip-top bags. Allow it to age for up to a week before using, so it acquires a strong smell that will grab a catfish's attention.
Homemade baits often contain a combination of uncooked oatmeal, garlic salt, garlic powder, canned tuna, anise oil, chicken livers and gizzards, fish parts, cheese, processed meat, blood and enough water to achieve the proper consistency.
Most homemade baits are a thick paste so you can mold them onto the fishhook. Treble hooks work well for holding bait, as well as special hooks that have rubber or foam around the shank to keep the bait from falling off.
Catfish often use their acute sense of smell to find food, so make the bait as smelly as possible. This is done by selecting ingredients with a strong aroma, such as garlic salt, anise oil and cheese, and allowing the bait to age in a cool, dark place for up to a week.
Refrigerate or freeze the bait, or let it rot outdoors so it develops a more pungent smell. Just remember that the smell could linger where you have stored the bait.
Also try chicken liver, night crawlers, hot dogs, shrimp, frogs, bluegills or cut-up chunks of baitfish, known as cut bait.