Trotline Bait

I RUN TROTLINES AND WAS WONDERING WHAT THE BEST ALL AROUND BAIT IS I LIVE IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS

When using trotlines for catfish, there are many good choices for bait. Punch Bait stays on the hook fairly well, is convienient, inexpensive and easy to use. Simply use treble hooks, and ‘punch’ them down into the bait. When you pull the hooks out, they will have a very sticky ball of bait on them. It lasts longer on the hook than regular dough baits, and is easy to re-bait. Chicken livers wrapped in panty-hose are a classic catfish bait. It stays on the hook well, has plenty of smell to attract whiskerfish from great distances, is durable and almost a guaranteed cat-catcher. On the downside, turtles also love chicken livers, so be prepared to make a certain amount of turtle soup as a side-dish. Shrimp is another classic catfish bait., but again, turtles are also very fond of them as well. Shrimp are on the pricey side as far as bait goes, and I hate to use perfectly edible shrimp as fish-bait. The really big catfish are always caught on live baitfish. As catfish become larger, they become more predatory, eating less carrion and more live baitfish. For trotlinjes, you will need a lot of bait, so a 6′-8′ castnet is a good investment. The best bait for catfish is live shad, but they are hard to keep alive. They work dead, too, only not quit as well. Shad can be seined the night before you plan to fish, and the dead ones frozen to use when you run out of live ones.. For trotlines, the most favored bait among most afficianados is live bluegill (where legal). In most states, they have to be caught legally on a hook and line to be used, but that’s half of the fun. They can be kept alive easily, because they are a hardy and tough little fish. Most of the record Blue, Channel and Flathead Catfish were caught on live shad, or bluegills. 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.

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