I have had a lifelong passion for catching and eating catfish. I

grew up on a poultry farm in very rural Red River County in

the fifties and sixties. Every 9 weeks, my dad sold the chickens

and he declared the next few days as a holiday. My Mother

and Dad were devout fishermen, targeting largemouth bass in

the many stock ponds around the county. We caught channel

catfish in Pecan Bayou which was a quarter mile or so from

our little farm. But Daddy always devoted a couple days of

this ‘holiday’ to making the drive up to Long Log Lake near

Idabel, Oklahoma where we camped a couple days and set


We would set a couple of trotlines and the challenge was to

get the ‘lines’ set out and baited in time to catch our first

evenings supper. The little lake was chock full of catfish and

we never had any problem catching plenty of fish to eat. My

Dad’s bait of choice for channel catfish was cut perch. A day

before our fishing trip, I would scratch around the leaves and

collect a coffee can half full of nightcrawlers and then use my

cane pole to catch a bunch of small perch which were later

used as bait for our trotline. We would sometimes experiment

with other baits such as little squares of PG soap, blood

bait,chicken livers or gizzards, worms or even small strips of

bacon. All caught fish but the cut bait was tough and stayed

on the hook well.

Channel catfish can readily be caught on a wide variety of

baits and just about every devout ‘catter’ has his or her

favorite and it’s good council not to try to attempt to change

their mind! About twelve years ago, I worked with Magic Bait

Company to help develop their version of catfish bait which

was named "Stick It". I arranged for five well known catfish

guides to work with us and each would be shipped test

formulas to put to work on their home waters. The test

samples began with ‘Test A’ and by the time we progressed to

‘Test G’, all the guides and myself were satisfied with the

finished product. We had weekly telephone visits and each

guide reported how that week’s particular bait was working. A

chemist at the plant was continually making adjustments to

the ingredients.

Punch baits began as rank concoctions of soured cheese,

grain, ground up minnow, fiber from cattails and other

ingredients known only to the maker. The treble hook was

‘punched’ into the bucket of bait via a stick, thus the name

‘punch bait’.

Stick It and other like baits still carry the name ‘punch bait’

but they are far less smelly to work with than the earlier

versions of punch bait. When fishing with Stick It, I actually

roll the bait into little balls and press the bait on to a treble

hook, rather than just sticking the hook into the bait bucket. I

would not consider putting my hands into a bucket of some of

the earlier punch baits. Today, there are many excellent

catfish baits on the market, some made locally and some, such

as Stick It that are sold in package stores across the country.

Which one is best? Well that’s a loaded question and one I will

not attempt to answer. But I have my favorites which include

but are not limited to Stick It. They include Sonny’s Super

Sticky and Stubbys Catfish Bait, made locally at Lake Fork. All

are quality baits that catch fish and all have their loyal

following. Channel catfish can be caught on everything from

crickets to chicken liver. If you are new to catfishing my best

advice is to try a variety of baits and see which works best in

the waters you fish.

When targeting BLUE CATFISH, the favorite bait here in Texas,

hands down, is freshly caught shad. Nothing comes close to

fresh bloody, oily bait for enticing blue catfish to bite. When

shad are difficult to catch with a castnet, many blue catfish

anglers bait with small pieces of cut rough fish such as

buffalofish or carp. In my years of fishing for catfish of all

species, I have found that there simply is no better bait than

fresh cutbait for catching blue catfish.

Not nearly as many anglers fish for flathead catfish today as

there was 25 years ago, especially in Texas waters. Blue

catfish were stocked in many Texas lakes a couple decades

ago and their numbers flourished. Most catfish anglers

looking for a trophy size fish today target blues rather than

flatheads. But, there is a contingency of devout flathead

anglers that use live bait on trotlines or on rod and reel and

target these good eating and hard fighting catfish. Flatheads

love to hang out around log jams in creeks and rivers and

fishermen dropping live perch into these structures often do

well catching flatheads but the action is almost always much

slower than when fishing for channel or blue catfish.

CATFISH REPORT – We are currently at the ‘tail end’ of the

trophy blue catfish season. Granted, big blues are still being

caught but not with the consistency they were back in the

colder months. But, now is prime time for catching limits of

‘eater’ blues weighing between 2 and ten pounds. Channel

catfish are being caught with regularity on lakes such as

Tawakoni and Fork on prepared baits. In a few weeks, channel

catfish will be landed in large numbers around shoreline brush

such as willows as they begin their spawn. When targeting

channel catfish, it’s always a good idea to chum the area with

soured grain or cattle range cubes.

Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton through his website

www.catfishradio.org .