Catfish bait and what people consider to be the best varies greatly depending on these factors: what species of catfish you’re targeting, what size of fish you want to catch, and what location you have to work with. Walmart and every bait shop sells dip or punch bait along with fancy tubes to put it on. Another one of the long time favorites just about every person has seen or heard used is chicken liver. While these kinds of bait will catch fish, you can increase the size of fish and catch more using natural baits. Natural baits are things found in the water catfish regularly feed on. Each species will eat just about every natural bait found in the water, but depending on where you fish and what is most abundant usually determines what is the best thing to use.
Waterways across the country vary significantly when it comes to bait fish including: shad, skipjack, bluegill, creek chubs, mooneye, goldeye, suckers, and even carp. For example, a small river in the north may not have shad, skipjack, mooneye, or gold eye; therefore, the best thing to do is catch fish from that body of water and, if legal, use for bait.
Moving south to another river and all of the fish mentioned above are good choices as every one of those species inhabits the river. The key, beyond popular belief, is to have fresh bait. Sure you can set chicken liver in the sun for two days and catch fish but you will have a lot more success catching more and bigger fish with fresh bait. Many of the most successful cat fishermen will spend all day and all night trying to catch fresh bait, as frozen is usually the last resort and stink bait is not even an option.
So the next time you head out for a day cat fishing, do yourself a favor and take a lightweight pole for catching bait and don’t forget to buy a cast net.