John's Journal...


Summertime River-Catfish Baits

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Watermelon, iced tea, suntan lotion, sunglasses and fishing for catfish comes to mind when the sun climbs high in the sky, and the mercury heads for the 100-degree mark. Many anglers believe that to catch catfish in the summer you simply throw a stink bait out on the bottom of any river. But to consistently catch more cats on every outing, you need to know where the fish most likely will occur, what they're most likely to eat in these spots, and what conditions cause them to feed most actively. Catfish like to eat almost anything. To catch catfish, determine the natural baits in the river you're fishing, and fish them first. Check with local anglers and sporting-goods stores to learn what baits catfish bite in that region at that time of the year. Several other factors affect when and what catfish eat. The temperature of the water governs how actively catfish feed, because the enzyme action in a catfish's stomach doubles with each 8-degree increase in water temperature. The hotter the weather becomes, the more catfish feed. Since most catfish prefer a dark habitat, they eat mostly at night during the hottest, sunniest weather.

During the hot summer months, some anglers use more scent on catfish baits than in the spring. Many sportsmen have discovered that chicken livers, especially those soaked in some kind of catfish scent, really catch summertime river cats. Also, fish with shrimp in the summer for catfish. Although most catfish in the U.S. never have seen shrimp, they will respond to the smell the bait gives off. Shrimp can be expensive bait when fresh, but spoiled shrimp has a very low cost at a fish market. You also can catch catfish in the summer with cheese doughballs you make yourself as well as live baits like minnows, goldfish, worms, crickets and dead baits like roaches and bonita, a bloody and smelly saltwater Click to enlargefish when cut up. To catch more catfish in rivers this summer, first find an area catfish frequent, and concentrate most of your fishing in that region. These tactics have worked for others, and they will work for you.

Monte Burch’s Bad Dip Bait:

Monte Burch of Missouri comes from a long line of really-serious catfishermen. His ancestors have passed this bad dip bait recipe for catching catfish down for several generations. Here's Burch's directions. Use 2 gallons of dead shad or minnows, 7 pounds of Limburger cheese and 1 ounce of oil of anise. Put the minnows or shad in a 5-gallon bucket, cover the fish with water, put a lid on the bucket, and bury the bucket in the back yard. Three to four days later, dig the bucket up. Pour off the liquid, shred or melt the Limburger cheese, and mix it with the oil of anise and the spoiled fish. Then dump the mixture into pint fruit jars, and put lids on the jars. Don't screw the lids down tightly, or the jars may explode. Within a week, you'll find this bait ready for you to use it to catch catfish. Take pieces of plastic worms, and thread them on your hook. Dip the plastic worm in the stink-bait mixture. Then cast the bait out, and hold on to your rod, because the cats will come.

Click to enlargeTo make a more-stiff bait that you can put on your hooks, use an old microwave oven, and take it out of the house. Pour a pint of the mixture in a glass or microwave-safe bowl, and cook the mixture until it becomes more stiff. Only use the microwave for this outside the house. If you cook this bait in the house, your family may leave and never come back, and you'll certainly have no chance of ever selling your home.

Use Wheat to Catch Catfish:

Lomax Dunham catches catfish every time he goes fishing. He uses a secret technique to lure cats into main river points, the intersections of river channels and creek channels and the backs of small bays off the main rivers. "You want to bait the places where you've caught cats in the past," Dunham says. Dunham starts with a 5-gallon bucket that he fills about 3/4 full of wheat. To the wheat, he adds four cloves of garlic and five squeezed lemons. Next he covers the top of the wheat with water. He continues to add water if the water evaporates and lets the mixture sit for one to two weeks to insure the thorough fermentation of the wheat. Then he takes a plastic scoop and the bucket of wheat with him whenever he goes catfishing. According to Dunham, "I strew the wheat on the tops of points, along the edges of creek channels or in the backs of bays that I want to fish. Generally 5 gallons of wheat will bait up three to four spots for catfish. After I've spread the wheat on the three or four places I want to fish, I'll come back and anchor up on the first spot and begin to fish. Usually the cats are already on the spot feeding on the wheat when I arrive. So all I have to do is bait with worms and fish on the bottom." Dunham warns that if you use this wheat-baiting formula you need to leave the bucket of wheat well away from the house. "Also don't get any of the wheat on your hands or in your boat, because that stuff really stinks, and you can't get rid of the smell."

Possum to the Rescue:

Click to enlargeDanny Fields had a desperate mission. He'd had to leave the catfish biting because he had no bait. Earlier in the day Fields had baited with live minnows. However, when he went to the bait shop, the owner told him he'd sold all his minnows and wouldn't get any more until the next day. On the way back to his fishing camp, Fields spied a possum lying dead on the side of the road. Although the possum hadn't yet begun to swell, it had a strong smell. "I picked that possum up, put it in a plastic bag and went back to camp," Fields reports. "I skinned the possum out and cut up little chunks of the possum for catfish bait. I baited the possum on my trotline and on my rod and reel and caught the most cats I'd ever caught. Now when I'm driving the three hours from my home to my cabin on the river, if I see a dead possum on the side of the road, I'll pick it up and use it for catfish bait."


Check back each day this week for more about SUMMERTIME RIVER CATS

Day 1: Small Streams and Little Rivers
Day 2: Large Rivers
Day 3: Below Dams
Day 4: Summertime River-Catfish Baits
Day 5: Other Summertime River-Catfish Baits



Entry 310, Day 4