How to Bait a Catfish Hook

How to Bait a Catfish Hook
Catfish are well known for their willingness to eat practically anything, but that does not mean bait doesn't matter. Using live bait is often the best way to lure the big catfish out of the depths and get the best strikes. Choosing the right bait for fishing and presenting it properly will keep the bait lively and help the catfish see its quarry.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Shad and Herring

Things You’ll Need:
  • Shad
  • Herring
  • Casting net
  • Aerated tank
  • Fishing pole
  • Fishing tackle
Step 1
Catch or purchase shad, herring or another catfish bait fish. Throw a casting net into the water from the shore and retrieve it until you have caught a supply of small, live fish to attract cats.
Step 2
Place the bait fish in a round, aearated bait bucket filled with water from the place you caught them. This will ensure that the bait are not shocked by a sudden change in temperature.
Step 3
Set up a rig to bring the baitfish into deep water where the catfish live. Game and Fish magazine recommends using a 1 to 2 ounce egg sinker directly above a barrel swivel. Tie a 3 foot leader line onto the swivel with a 3/0 hook at the end.
Step 4
Thread the hook up through the bottom lip of the bait fish and back out between the nostrils. This method is good for casting and ideal for trolling.
Step 5
Hook the fish behind the the dorsal fin to allow it to wander more freely. Thread the hook through the top of the skin directly behind the dorsal fin. Take care to not thread the hook in too deeply, as you could damage the spinal cord.


Step 1
Set up the same rig as you used in section one, except use a 6/0 or 8/0 octopus hook instead of the 3/0 hook.
Step 2
Insert a hypodermic syringe into a nightcrawler and squirt a small amount of air into its body. This is an optional step which will make the worm float better, increasing its visibility to catfish.
Step 3
Impale the worm on the octopus hook, leaving the end dangling loosely to the outside of the hook.
Step 4
Cast the hook and let it settle on the bottom. The line will vibrate slightly as small fish nibble on the worms. When a catfish notices all the nibbling, it will move in, chasing the smaller fish away. When the string grows still, prepare for a catfish bite.

Article Written By Isaiah David

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.

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