Dead or Alive?

Does it make a difference when fishing for Catfish is the bait is dead or alive?

Fishing for cats is a game of skill, especially when chasing down the really big cats. Tackle, bait and location all need to be carefully considered, in order to get the right morsel in front of the right fish, at the right time. Into this mix, also, is the species of cat you are after, as, while most cats share very similar views on lifestyle, there are definite species differences between them, which result in their choosing different water conditions, and also, different preferred foods.

Among catfish, the Flathead Catfish is the one most likely to take a live bait, though, that said, big cats of all species have been taken on both live and dead baits. Still, it should be remembered that catfish have an alarmingly good sense of smell, and we all know that dead things smell more than live ones… usually. In a dark, watery world, strong odours are often the only thing that can guide a catfish to its meals. So, for most cats, dead baits seem to have more appeal, and a better strike rate. However, Flatheads, in particular, are regularly known to take live fish baits, warming well to 6″ shad or other small-ish delectables. In a quieter, lower-current environment, the live fish’s activity on the line tends to attract cats from around the area, while in faster waters, the smell-thing is still more likely to get noticed. In an effort to “shotgun” the issue, many fishermen use a combination bait, with a stinkbait of some sort on the hook, and with a live fish at the end, so that they are covering all the bases.


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

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