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Cat River Anchors
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BIG FRIG a division of Tree Leaf Marketing, LLC

Got Bait?
May 2015
Bait is absolutely paramount if your fishing for catfish. If you don’t have good bait it’s likely that you’re
not going to have a good day of fishing. Those that fish for catfish have a much larger hurdle to get over
than those that fish for walleye or bass when it comes to bait. Walleye and bass fishermen can have a tackle
box full lures with different colors, sizes, spinner baits, crank baits, jigs, you name it, all ready to go
at a moment’s notice.
Getting bait can be a real burden for those that fish for catfish. Sometimes you can find the bait you’re
looking for at bait shops but more times than not you’re going to have to catch it yourself. I have had
times when I’ve had to spend a day, driving up to a 100 miles and even more, getting bait just to spend
another day fishing for catfish.
I have learned that those that are good at catching catfish are also good at catching bait. You can’t have
one without the other.
Once you have your bait, you need to preserve it. Fresher bait means better bait. Some baits are easier than
others to preserve. Try to keep your bait alive if you can.
Shad is one bait that is near impossible to keep alive for any length of time. If you’re going use the shad
you caught within a couple days the best way to preserve it, is to put it on ice. Have your shad in a freezer
bag when you put in a good cooler. Have it completely covered in ice with the freezer bag openings up just
above the ice. You don’t want water to get into the bags when the ice starts to melt. If you’re not going to
use your shad within a day or two, freeze it. Fresh shad is always better but frozen will put catfish in the
boat too.
Chubs are a bait that you can keep alive. I’ve been able to keep chubs alive for over a month. First, start
with a large cooler full of water to keep your chubs. Keep the water cold. Do not put ice directly into the
cooler! You will kill the chubs if you put too much ice directly into the cooler. The best way to keep the
water cold is to use frozen two liter bottles of water. Have several frozen two liter bottles of water in
your freezer that you can swap from the cooler to the freezer. You can get the water near freezing this way
and preserve your bait until you’re ready to take them fishing.
You will have to change the water from time to time. How often you change the water will depend on how large
your cooler is and how many chubs are in it. The temperature of the new water will have to be near what the
old water is. Too much temperature difference will kill the chubs.
There are three things to remember about bait when fishing for catfish. Fresh bait, fresh bait, fresh bait!
We’ve all heard the stories of grandpa with his secret concoction of cut bait blended with other ingredients
that he has out back sitting out waiting for it to get just right to take fishing.
Truth is the best bait for catfish generally is whatever catfish are used to feeding on in particular body
of water you happen to fishing on. Catfish will eat just about anything but they would prefer a fresh bait
their used to seeing over a rotten piece of bait they have never seen before.
Now, no one doubts that grandpa was a fine fisherman. It’s just that he would have been even better had he
used fresh bait.
~ Pat Carter

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