Night crawlers work on almost all types of fish, and catfish are no exception. These worms have a natural smell and taste that appeals to catfish at all times of the year. You can use big, fat night crawlers without eliminating the smaller catfish from being a potential catch--even small fish will attack a large night crawler, and the bigger the worm, the bigger the meal for a catfish of any size.
No fish responds to chicken livers the way catfish do. In fact, the smell is so pungent and enticing that catfish will leave their own area in a lake, river or stream and venture out in search of the chicken livers. The downside to this type of bait is that it rarely attracts catfish larger than 10 pounds, unless they're particularly hungry, and the liver can be difficult to set on the hook and keep it there.
Shad might be the most effective type of bait for catfish larger than 10 pounds. When a catfish reaches this size, it tends to minimize the role of worms and other smaller foods and turn to a predominantly all-fish diet. You can either cut up shad and set bits of it on the hook or hook a live shad and use it as bait. If you have a large shad, don't let the guts and organs go to waste--these are extremely pungent and can attract a bite from a catfish almost instantly, if there are fish in the area.
Catfish love crawfish, but there's an important thing to remember: You shouldn't use crawfish in areas where they aren't native. If the crawfish isn't from the area and the catfish doesn't recognize it, it will be slow to attack--or at least slower than it would if it knew what it was looking at. Crawfish, like shad, can be used as dead or live bait, and they work well when trolled along the bottom of the lake.