The Right Bait For Channel Catfish

What do channel catfish eat – what bait should I use?

Channel catfish eat just about anything they can catch. It depends on location and time of year, but smaller channel cats generally eat organisms and morsels of fish and dead stuff at the bottom of the lake or river, while bigger channel cats live mostly on other fish. During the fall and winter, channel cats eat lots of decaying matter, like dead fish, worms, frogs and whatever else they can find. In the spring and summer, they feast on frogs, fish, worms, nightcrawlers, bugs and just about anything else. Channel cats have a good sense of smell, so anything that stinks will work well. There are lots of prepared baits you can buy at the store, but you are better off going with a live bait. Their favorites include chicken livers, chicken blood, night crawlers, worms, dead or living minnows, grasshoppers, the guts of any animal at all including chicken and fish, crawdads, and especially cheese. This just goes to show how omnivorous channel cats are: Cheese is definitely and by any means NOT their habitual food, but they go after it like there’s no tomorrow. First, get an idea of how big the channel cats in the area are, because this will determine what baits to use. Big baits won’t catch small fish and vice versa. Keep in mind that the bigger channel cats like fish; that’s a big part of their diet. If you’re going after really big ones, make sure you have minnows, bluegill, or even smaller catfish.


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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