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Best All Around Bait For Channel Catfish

Best Bait For Channel Catfish


From the Learn To Catch Catfish mailbox through the ask a catfishing question page.


“What are the best all-around baits for channel catfish?”


Talk about a loaded question! This is again one of those questions I could write for hours and hours on and still probably not say everything about the best all around bait for channel catfish.

If I had to sum it up into a short response (like I am trying to do here) since it really cannot be answered in one question I would say prepared catfish baits like punch bait or dip bait are the my preference for channel catfish in most instances. Many people have success with a number of different baits. I find that prepared baits work best in most occasions.

While this is not an “absolute” it is a good general rule. Most of the time these are very effective, easy to fish and easily obtainable. There are certain periods of the year where I will use different baits for channel catfish when using different catfishing techniques, but overall 95% (or more) of my fishing for channel catfish is done using prepared bait.

I have tendency to lean towards catfish punch bait because it doesn’t require using a sponge hook or dip worm for fishing like a dip bait does but that is just a matter of personal preference.

As I continue to build and grow the Learn To Catch Catfish website I will add additional articles and information on some of the other channel catfish baits that I use during these small windows at different time of the year. Until then I would suggest you pick a good catfish punch bait and start learning how to fish with that.

I suggest you read the following articles on this subject:

What is catfish punch bait

Catfish punch bait 101

Chumming and baiting a hole for catfish

Do some research in your area and see what kind of products people are catfishing with on your local lakes and rivers and give them a try. There are a ton of great products available locally in many areas that are not available on a national level and chances are you may have your answer to the best bait for channel catfish right in your own backyard. Give these a try in the waters you fish and see how they perform. If they don’t work well for you, I would check out Sure Shot Catfish Bait or one of the many other popular products on the market.

One of these days we will be writing some articles and doing product reviews on the different kinds of prepared catfish bait for channel catfish. I have also been approached about doing a “fish off” with a bunch of different products to see if I can determine what the best bait is for channel catfish, but am still trying to decide if that is something I want to get into or not.

What is your best all around bait for channel catfish? Tell us what works best for you in the comments section below.

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To learn about the catfish tackle that I use for this and all of my catfishing in my guide service go to the catfish tackle page and also view the article and video about what’s in my tackle box.

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About Chad

Chad Ferguson is a professional catfish guide and founder of Learn To Catch Catfish. Click here to subscribe for more exclusive catfish fishing tips by email and then follow on Twitter or Google


  1. James Greene says:

    Hi Chad.

    Great question! I fish solely for Channel cats and I have found that my own homemade punch bait works the best for me. Whats in it?? Well that’s my little secrete. 😉 I will however tell you that it stinks worse than Danny Kings punch bait, and its binder is cheese based and I use cattails to thicken it up. I catch Channels mainly less than 4 pounds with my bait, but that’s just perfect for my needs because I plan on eating them. My biggest Channel I caught tipped the scales at 9 1/2 pounds with my bait which I took a picture of and released back into the lake. He was caught from the shores of Lake Ray Hubbard.

    My next favorite Channel cat bait is strangely….hotdogs!! I catch a LOT of Channels with stupid little dotdogs cut into chunks! Who would have thought??

    My next favorite bait is nightcrawlers. When nothing else works, tasty Canadian Nightcrawlers from Wal-Mart will usually work.

    There are SO many different baits you can catch Channel cats on that its not even funny. And what works for me may not work at all for you. Where you fish, location, water temp, and conditions all play key roles in catching Channel cats. 😉

    Hope this helps someone out. Good luck, and remember….keep the fish you plan on eating and practice catch & release the rest for someone else to enjoy catching one day.

    Your friend,

    James Greene
    Mesquite TX

    • James;

      Thanks for your well written, and informative review of your personal favorite baits for Channel Catfish.

      Our local Wal-Mart carries both Punch and Dip baits in different “flavors”, but I’ve not tried them yet. Is there a best scent to choose first, or maybe have a couple of selections on hand? Hotdogs will sure to be in the mix too. If the Cat’s are slow biting, I can always use them for lunch myself.

      Again, thanks.


  2. Chad;

    Looking forward to the future “Channel” Catfish bait articles. For those just starting out, and those of us getting back into Catfishing, this, IMHO, has been a timely question. At the lake in Southern CA. where I used to fish years ago, Nightcrawlers were the norm for Catfish, and Trout, and they produced nice stringers. Since I’ve relocated, and just now getting back into fishing, I’m having to re-learn many things, and anything that can be shared from the pro’s will be greatly appreciated.



  3. justin harrah says:

    my best all around catfish bait is shad. In the prespawn time catching eating size channels mean cut shad. Any other time of the year cut shad catches mainly bigger fish. I always catch shad and freeze it to use later. I don’t know if it being frozen helps but I don’t think I have caught many channels with fresh shad. Second for me would be worms. That is what I started with and it never failed me. I have tried diffrent stink baits and they never have caught fish with me using them. I bought some secret 7 used it multiple times and never got more than a nibble but cut shad on my other pole I had to keep from being draged into the water witch happened to me saturday when fishing.

  4. James Greene says:


    Hi Stan. Walmart carries Danny Kings punch bait. It comes in original and blood. Any of those punch baits or dough baits that have blood in them are sure to attract Channels. I have had success with magic baits liver and blood when I run out of my homemade punch bait. Also some of those hawg wild dough baits seem to work ok. I haven’t had any success with a dip bait yet. :(

    If you can’t get your hands on Shad, minnows are the next best thing. I caught a few Channel cats with live minnows fishing on the bottom of my local municipally stocked pond here in Mesquite. I also caught 3 or 4 Channels on a slip bobber rig set to 3 feet deep in 10 foot deep water using live minnows.

    If your going to Walmart Stan, get Danny kings blood punch bait, magic baits liver and blood, and a 20 pack of Canadian Nightcrawlers…and don’t forget the hot dogs!!

    Your friend,

    James Greene
    Mesquite, TX

  5. big marv’s punch bait. as good or better than sure shot! it works so good, I know if im not getting bites its because Im in the WRONG area.

  6. That is a loaded question. I put a few different baits out & just see what the fish want. It is a bit easier when you bait (chum) your holes. Channels will eat just about anything.

    On that note at the public stocked ponds I use the following, it works

    Channel Catfish bait:

    1 pk of hot dogs cut into 1 inch pieces (cheap smelly ones)

    2 pks of strawberry koolaid (not generic – catfish know the difference)

    1 small jar of minced garlic

    1 small jar (pickle jar is perfect).

    Put hot dogs, Koolaid mix (no sugar), and minced garlic in baggie …. Add water and marinate over night.

  7. I use Threadfins cut in half. Caught tons of channel cats and the bait is free. My net has holes now after several years of use and needs to be replaced, but the local store here charges $3.99 for a small bag of shad. I figure I caught several thousand dollars worth of shad on my 25 dollar net over the years.

  8. A big thank you to all who shared their thoughts on the different bait’s here. I guess I’ll be carrying a variety with me when I get out to try my luck. As with the Trout I catch, I have to offer several types and flavors till I find the right one.

    Hopefully soon I’ll be able to share some info on my success or lack thereof.

    Again, thanks to all.


  9. sam wilkes says:

    i do pretty good off of raw shrimp!!

  10. I’ve caught a lot of channels on live white sucker minnows about 6-8 inches long or half a shad I use size 4 treble hooks. I have had busted steel leaders bent hooks and the like in the Milk River in Montana a lot of big pike in there too.

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