Old "Mr. Whiskers" is one of America's favorite fish, both in terms of angling quality and cuisine. They are prolific and can be caught all across the country. And few fish can match the delicate flavor of a firm catfish fillet.
All species of catfish can be caught on a variety of baits ranging from goldfish to rotten chicken carcasses. Large earthworms are a favorite bait in many regions. However, if you get caught short of bait, look in your refrigerator or bathroom. Or, if you are outside, look for a couple of plants that can provide bait. Try these four weird baits to expand your catfishing horizons.
1. Fish With Hot Dogs
Hot dogs are about as American as you can get. But, you will never look at them in the same light after using them for catfish bait. Many catfish anglers have used them for decades. On the other hand, most catfishermen seem to discover hot dogs out of desperation, after running out of traditional baits such as worms and cut baits. Hot dogs are a common food taken along on fishing excursions and double as excellent catfish bait.
Points to remember when using hot dogs as bait include:
- Cheaper hot dogs seem to catch more fish. Eat the more expensive hot dogs yourself, but form the habit of tossing a package or two of the cheapest brands available into your cooler. If all else fails, you can still eat them, too.
- Use hotdogs sparingly. Hotdogs are full of meat by-products and salts. It doesn't take a big bait to lay down a scent trail. Catfish will find the baits. Use a piece about the size of your first thumb joint.
2. Fish With a Bar Soap
Bar soap is a necessity found in most households. Don't have bait or don't want to take the time to go by the bait shop? Grab a bar of soap from the bathroom closet. It will catch catfish.
Cheaper soaps tend to work best. Again, save the good stuff for yourself. But, in a pinch, even the best soap will work for catfish bait.
How to use soap as bait:
- Cut bar of soap into 1-inch squares. Some soaps are more crumbly than others, so experiment with size until you discover what size will stay together. Smaller is better.
- Cast your bait into a current. The moving water will disperse the scent of the soap. Catfish will find it.
3. Fish With Mulberries
Looking to nature for vegetative baits is an old catfisherman's trick. Catfish are not generally though of as vegetarians, but they do take advantage of seasonal surpluses and often gorge themselves on small fruits.
- Mulberries ripen in spring. Locate several trees well ahead of time so you will be prepared for the harvest. Check your selected trees often. Squirrels love ripe mulberries and can clean a tree out in a matter of days.
- Try to find mulberry trees hanging over a stream or river that holds catfish. This is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Catfish will have utilized the berries for years and will be accustomed to feeding there.
- Pick your berries a little early. Ripe berries are hard to keep on a hook. An alternative is to tie ripe berries into a small sack and place on a treble hook.
4. Fish With Blackberries
Blackberries are another seasonal fruit relished by catfish. Look for them in mid-summer.
- Pick berries early. All manner of wild birds and animals love blackberries.
- Look for blackberry bushes next to water sources. Catfish that have become accustomed to feeding on berries falling into the water can be caught very shallow and often very quickly.
Becoming spontaneous with your catfishing can add a whole new dimension to the sport. A word of caution: eating your baits is a temptation. And, you may need the soap to wash your mouth out after the expletives you utter upon experiencing the explosive strikes of a monster catfish striking one of these four weird baits.