Let me tell you a story of my Papa's catfish bait.
I recently visited my grandparents and had to help Papa clean out his tool shed.
While I was moving a toolbox around, I knocked over and broke a glass bottle and was quickly hit with an absolutely disgusting smell. I couldn’t pinpoint it but I knew it was vaguely familiar.
A few minutes later Papa came around to see how things were going and saw me gagging from the smell. He just laughed and said I see you found my “special blend” homemade catfish bait. That’s when the memory if the smell hit me.
When I was a kid, my family would take a week-long camping trip at the end of October, to Lake Sam Rayburn, deep in the Piney Woods National Forest of East Texas. Every morning, around 4:00 am, we would take the boat out and run all of our trotlines on the misty black water of the lake. I remembered the tendrils of mist that would curl around and into the boat and the faint rustling of animals at the water’s edge as they came for a morning drink.
Of all these things I remember the smell the most. My Grandpa would make his special blend of catfish “cheese” in January of each year and would let it sit and get “ripe” as he called it, until our camping trips. As a child, I would get as far to the back of the boat as possible but nothing would escape that smell. You would have that lingering odor on you for days on end. I could never believe it when we would pull up hundreds of pounds of catfish, a few alligator gar, the occasional snapping turtle, and even more rare, an actual alligator. Whatever it was that made it smell so rancid was the same thing that made it irresistible to the fish.
It wasn’t until years later that I finally got ahold of my papa’s recipe for both his cheese bait as well as his “blood ball bait”. These recipes and catfishing technique have served my family quite well over the last few decades. Now, I want to share them with you.
Papa’s “Special Blend” Catfish Bait
What you need:
- Mason jar (Papa would use an old mayonnaise jar)
- 1lb of cheese spread (preferably cheddar) the cheaper the better
- 8 oz. of beef blood
- 1 container of minced garlic
- Popsicle stick
- An out-of-the-way place allow it to ripen
Here's How to Make It
Step 1. Warm the Cheese
Allow the cheese to warm up either about 20-40 seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in the sun.
Step 2. Mix Cheese with Blood and Garlic
Mix the cheese, blood, and garlic into the jar and stir until it’s evenly dispersed and there are no big chunks.
Step 3. Add Sawdust to the Paste
Take the paste you have just made and add some of the sawdust to thicken it. Add a small amount at a time to avoid any big clumps.
Step 4. Make it Tacky
You want to add enough sawdust to make it tacky, almost to the consistency of thick oatmeal.
*If you add too much your bait will dry out and crumble; too little and it will wash off before you can land a fish
Step 5. Seal the Jar
Step 6. Let it Sit for a Week
You will want to let it sit for a minimum of a week, but the longer the better. Some of Papa’s bait has sat for 3 years before using it.
Using the Bait:
When it’s time to grab your tackle box and the cheese bait, make sure that you don’t forget the popsicle stick and the sponge.
Once you get to your favorite catfishing hole it’s time to break out the cheese bait. (You may want to cover your nose with a handkerchief to avoid some of the smell)
Cut your sponge into long thin strips and then moisten them to make the sponge more pliable. Wrap the sponge around your hook (a treble hook works best) and make sure that the barbs on the hook catch the sponge so that it will stick to the hook under water.
Use the Popsicle stick to avoid getting the bait on your hands, smear it on the sponge until it is fully saturated.
You want to gently cast and allow the bait to get close to the bottom but not to where it drags as this will pull the bait off the hook.
If you don't feel any bites or catfish lure, pull the bait up about every hour or so and check the sponge, if it looks like most of the cheese has washed off of it, reapply and start over.
So much about my Papa's catfish bait. Check out Walmart's 5 best catfish baits by AnglersEscape:
If you follow the above recipe you should have no trouble pulling in plenty of catfish for a meal. This recipe has worked for my family for a long time and hopefully, it will work for you. There are a ton of other recipes available online using many different ingredients and I would love to know what you use and what works for you.
Do you think this catfish bait will work for you too? Share with us your thoughts in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2012 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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