What’s the best bait for catching channel catfish?

I love catch channel cats. What’s the most productive bait to use?

Channel cats are one of the most sought-after catfish species, due to their wide range, decent size, good eating qualities and powerhouse dispositions, when hooked. Like all cats, Channel cats like their smelly, natural baits. As with Blue cats, the largest Channel cats eat dead fish almost exclusively. Choosing a bait, then, is a matter of determining the type and size of fish you want or expect to have around, and then baiting accordingly. For average-sized Channel cats, most any decent, natural bait will work, but the smell factor (not necessarily stink, as in bad, but a lot of smell, whatever it is) is most important. However, even the best bait might not work in your waters, off the top, until the fish are acclimatized to it. Chicken liver is one unconventional bait for Channel cats which works exceptionally well, once the locals know what it is, and how tasty it is. Whatever bait you choose, start to condition your local school of Channels to it by chumming the water (but not fishing, yet) for a couple or three days/evenings, using chum made with a base, plus the essences, and some small pieces of the bait you want to use, i.e., put lots of small pieces of chicken livers, and some of their blood, if any is available, into your chum base, if you are intending on fishing with chicken livers, later. Then, when you do go fishing, your big, meaty chunk of chicken liver bait will be like the long-lost best friend these cats never had, since all they’ve been able to do, for days, is smell, but never really eat, your bait….. until now. The biggest Channel cats will almost always prefer dead fish to most other baits, and so, accordingly, a decently-sized bait fish, or a chunk of one, will virtually always be a good choice…. and all cats already know what fish are, so it’s a small step, to get them used to your choice of bait fish, compared to the conditioning process required for some other quite effective baits.


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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