How to get Big Whiskerfish

I need any fishing tips you have for catfish fishing in Michigan. Is there a secret bait?

If you are after bigger catfish, then you need big water, most of the time. Also, you need current for Blues and Channel Cats. Tailraces provide excellent environments for the larger specimens. Rather than having to waste energy foraging for food, shad and other baitfish are sucked into the turbines of hydroelectric dams, chopped up, and chummed out the other side, so all the catfish have to do is sit in the current and grab whatever comes by. This can make for some exciting fishing. In large lakes, you will find larger catfish along channels, with easy access to shallow water. They prefer some cover, especially rocks, so don’t ignore rip-raps.

For really big catfish, whole, live bait-fish is the only bait to use. Especially bluegills. They are tough and live a long time on a hook. They are really good when used on trot-lines, and for jug fishing. Make sure you know the local fishing regulations first, to see if using bluegills is legal in your area. If not, large shad, minnows and even goldfish (again, only where legal) work, too.

My next choice would be for cut shad. It is best used frozen, to stay on the hook. Cut Shad is effective in the eddies and swirls below tail-races. You can also catch live shad with a throw-net, right where you are fishing. They won’t stay alive long, but dead ones work very well.

I like prepared commercial baits, like Danny Kings, but you will catch smaller fish. I fish to eat, so I am not particularly size-conscious, as long as they are legal. There are two main types of commercial bait: Dough bait, and Punch Bait. Dough Bait is best represented by brands like Magic Bait, Catfish Charlies, Berkley, Whopper, and Strike King. I have used them all, and they all work. But they will come off the hook in short order, requiring frequent re-baiting. Punch bait is represented by Danny Kings Punch Bait, and similar products. Punch Bait is almost magic. At times, it even out-fishes live bait. It has a fibrous texture that stays on the hook, for hours if necessary, and in heavy current that would wash dough bait off in a few minutes. You may catch smaller catfish, but you’ll catch plenty of them.

Other baits that receive good marks are shrimp, soap, dog food, crawfish, and night-crawlers.But my personal favorite is Danny Kings Punch-Bait. You may not catch a World-Record Catfish on it, but you’ll go home with a mess of eating-sized ones….

For an effective, cheap, and easy-to-make prepared catfish bait, try this recipe next time you go after whisker-fish. Get a package of weenies (old left-over ones are even better). Cut them in ?” inch thick chunks. Place them in a Zip-Lock baggie. Now, open a can of tuna, and drain the juice into the bag with the weenies. Seal the bag tightly and leave it in the ‘fridge for at least overnight, or as long as you can stand it. Now, the next morning, when you get ready to go fishing, make tuna salad from the tuna, slap it onto a couple of sandwiches, and take them, and the weenies to the fishing place. Eat the sandwiches while you use the weenies for bait. These are especially effective in the fast water below tailraces.

Chicken livers are one of the best catfish baits (turtles, too) there is. But keeping them, on the hook is a major problem. One way to solve this problem (partially) is to use frozen liver. But they thaw out quickly and come off the hook at the slightest movement, and it’s hard to keep bait frozen on the water. One solution it to use old stockings. When your wife/daughter, girlfriend gets a run in their hose, offer to dispose of them for her. To use, cut off a piece big enough to wrap around the liver, wrap the liver completely with the hose, and run the hook through the whole thing. Now, it will only come off by being cut off. This works with cheese, canned sardines/herring, nightcrawlers, and dead shad as well.

Another good bait is small canned shrimp, available at most grocery stores. Just thread several on an Aberdeen hook, and hang-on.
A quick and easy prepared homemade bait is to get some canned biscuit dough (any kind will work). Remove the dough from the can and roll it into ?” balls. Place these into a covered mixing bowl. Now, drench them with vanilla extract (imitation is OK). Cover tightly and left it set overnight. Store them in Zip-Lock Bags. They can be frozen for long-term storage. Catfish tear these up (so do carp). To use, just mould them around a treble hook.
Of course, the best bait is the one that works for YOU…Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Happy fishing.


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

One Response to “How to get Big Whiskerfish”

  1. Tim says:

    To ad a new level of fun to catfishing you can also try jug fishing. The Ultimate fishing noodles are a blast to fish with, they are the best adjustable depth rigs i have found and bring jug fishing to a new level. You can get them at http://www.fishingnoodles.com.

    Of course we still do a lot of line and pole fishing, but setting out jugs and checking them has an excitement about it that make it addictive.

    Thanks for the article, very good.

    Tim

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