Using these is something that was effective and was a very common practice but seems to have gone to the wayside over the past ten years or so, as they have become increasingly difficult to buy. I could get them locally until about three years ago but have not been able to find them in recent years.
It used to be that you could buy this product at any given feed store and over time they became increasingly more difficult to find, and it seems today that they are almost non-existent. Of recent they have been replaced by range cubes.
The cake was a byproduct of the cottonseed oil industry. They would mechanically press the whole cottonseed to harvest the oil and the cake and meal were left over from the whole cottonseed.
The reason the cakes made such good fish bait and cattle feed was that the mechanical extraction process was incredibly inefficient and left a significant amount of oil in the cakes. Typically about 6-8% of the oil would remain in the cakes. The cake when placed in the water would let off oil attracting bait fish and catfish.
Like most industries, this industry got much more efficient and switched to a solvent chemical extraction process instead of the mechanical process that produced the cottonseed cakes. The new extraction process was much less expensive than the old extraction methods and significantly changed the cottonseed meal that was left behind. The new process of extraction typically only leaves about 2-3% of cottonseed oil in the meal.
There are supposedly still a few plants left in the United States that are using the old process and still producing the cottonseed cakes, but not many. The lack of these plants makes finding cottonseed cakes a very difficult process.
There are a number of manufacturers that claim to sell this product or small blocks of chum that they want to claim are the same as the old cakes. Most of these products that I have seen look, feel or smell nothing like the old cottonseed cakes I have used to chum for catfish or bait a hole for catfish. I suspect that most of these so called cottonseed cakes are some sort of variation of a homemade meal cake that contains cottonseed meal and some sort of thickening agent to cause it to harden and stick together. A true cottonseed cake made from the cottonseed oil extraction process is put under tremendous pressure and I suspect that most people (if any) don’t have the equipment or means to try to compress the meal to this level.
There are a few places online that I have seen that have products listed that do look like the correct product but the shipping is really expensive since the product is so heavy so I have never looking into purchasing them. It’s not one of those things that is so good that I am willing pay outrageous shipping charges, I will just continue to use wheat or milo or range cubes.
Range Cubes are an alternative, but I have never felt like range cubes were as effective as as the cakes used to be. I will be adding some articles about range cubes and their use, so make sure you check back to find information.