Large minnows make excellent cut bait, and there are usually hundreds of them swimming at the water's edge. Dip your net to a catch a bunch of them, but transfer them into a large bucket of water and keep it in the shade while you fish; minnows die quickly in warm water. Use cut minnows right away as the catfish will be highly attracted by the scent of fresh blood and guts.
Bluegill are easy to catch fresh by baiting your hook with a tiny piece of red worm and dangling it in the water. You will get a strike almost immediately by the greedy bluegill, which can then be cut up into smaller, meaty pieces. The shiny appearance of the bluegill, with its rainbow of colors shimmering in the water, makes these fish irresistible to catfish.
Shad swim in large shoals in the water and are mainly caught by "throw nets" from boats or from the shoreline. Silvery and shiny in appearance, shad can be cut easily and stays on the hook well. Shad may be nibbled by other fish while you wait for your prize catfish to strike; place two or three pieces on your hook to compensate for the expected loss.
Beef liver is bloody, smelly and attractive to catfish. Beef liver stays on your hook longer than less dense chicken livers and won't disintegrate in the water. Simple to cut and handle, beef liver is inexpensive to purchase and easily transports in a large baggie placed in an ice chest.
Chunks of sucker fish, but not the head, make attractive catfish bait. The sucker fish's shiny skin and the scent from its entrails are highly conducive to catching your catfish supper. Small suckers may be used whole, minus the head.
Before catching or cutting bait fish, check with your state's fish and game department to ensure the legality of using the fish as bait. Always fish with a valid fishing license and only take your limit of fish for the season.
Article Written By Victoria Ries
Victoria Ries is a freelance writer whose work has been published in various print magazines, including "Guideposts," "BackHome," New Homesteading" and "Mother Earth News." Ries enjoys working on diverse topics such as travel, animal rescue, health and home business. Ries is currently working on her B.A. in psychology.