Cold Weather Catfish Bait

What changes when fishing for catfish in cold weather…will they bite on all the same stuff?

In the cold weather, you have to change your bait a little bit so that the cats will bite. They will eat just about anything, but they are reluctant to get too far out of their holes to look for it, so you really need something that will get their attention. I would recommend using cut bait, like eel or shad. You can save your cut bait from the summer and use that in the winter. Keep it frozen, and the winter time cats won’t mind that it’s not fresh fish. Cut bait is good, and any other kind of live bait. Keep in mind that they are not so active during the winter, so the smellier and more live the better. If the weather’s not too cold, catch some grub fish, night crawlers and other things that will wiggle on the end of your line. It’s always a good idea to check with your local bait shop too, because what catfish go for in any weather depends a little on the area. Definitely don’t use anything store-bought or artificial, because they just won’t go for it. And always remember that in cold weather catfish bite slowly. This means you have to be patient and give it a little time. It will take a little more time to get a bite in the cooler weather. If something really isn’t working, and you’re getting no bites at all, switch up to something else.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

3 Responses to “Cold Weather Catfish Bait”

  1. michael miller says:

    I was running trout lines on tombigbee this past weekend and ran into some trouble. Usually when I fish there we load the boat up but not this time. The river was about 6 foot sallower than usual and very cold at night and early morning. We put one fish in the boat all weekend. My bait was live gold fish and chicken hearts which usually do very well. We had hooks in the water along lime stone bluffs, turn holes, and wash piles. It was my first time fishing outside of summer and was trying to figure out what I done wrong. If you have any advice let me know.

  2. Robert says:

    I learned years ago that trotlines are a waste of time during winter. Most cats and all big cats stay on the bottom during winter. They hardly eat at all unless a bait is right in front of them or if you use live bait within 3 or 4 feet from them. They will not swim to the top or very far to look for food during winter. They can actually go all winter without eating at all.

  3. andy says:

    try using live baby blue gill if fishing in rivers in cold weather put extra river sinkers on so it will take the blue gill to the bottom and youll get some cats!

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