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


trotlines.


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 .