There are many choices one can use for catfish bait.  Although the majority of catfish can be caught on a single bait type they are not all alike.  Different types of catfish have different feeding habits and prefer different foods.   Since catfish exist on every continent except Antarctica and there are both fresh and salt water varieties I will only focus on common catfish found in North America.

In general catfish are scavengers scooping up just about anything found on the bottom of a lake or river.  The best catfish bait is to match what they will eat where you are fishing. They eat a variety of fish, crawdads, snails, muscles, worms or night crawlers but most will also eat aquatic plants if no meat is available.   There are many commercial catfish baits you can buy to fish with.  Some of these target certain types of catfish.  I have used several of these and some work very well for all purpose catfish bait.  A good choice is listed below.

Here is an interesting new   Catfish Bait   if you are tired of the Normal Sticky, Stinky Baits,

Yeh Mon! Freshwater Catfish Bites

Pick up a package of Yeh Mon! Freshwater Catfish Bait and prepare to be amazed. Upon opening the package, the first thing you will notice is the fact that there is no smell. Its proven scent technology makes the scent activate in the water, leaving you with clean smelling hands before and after you put it on the hook. It features a fiber mesh that keeps the bait together to survive numerous strikes, catches and re-casts.

See these common types of catfish and what you might use for catfish bait.

Yellow Bullhead - catfish bait all Yellow Bullhead Catfish –       The Yellow Bullhead commonly called yellow belly is very common across Central, Eastern and Southern US.  It grows to a maximum of about 2 lbs. and up to 18 inches in length.  Although commonly caught and may be eaten it is considered to be a trash fish and mostly feeds off worms, crayfish, snails and insects both living and dead.  I recomend using night crawlers for catfish bait.
Brown bullhead - catfish bait - nightcrawlers Brown Bullhead Catfish – This it is very similar to the yellow Bullhead but prefers muddier water.  It is commonly called “mud cat”.  As bottom feeders they will eat a variety of worms, leaches, snails, crayfish, fish and water plants.  They normally grow to be about 2lbs but larger specimens have been caught.  Their range is the same as the yellow cat and they are commonly caught on worms, dough or nightcrawlers.  Use night crawlers for catfish bait.
channel Cat - catfish bait - live bait & stink baits Channel Catfish – Commonly called channel cat it is the most fished for, catfish in the US.   It's found all across the country into Canada and Mexico.  Channel cats have a keen sense of smell and grow to a large size. The record 58lb fish was taken in S, Carolina but most are in the range of 2 to 10 lbs.  Channels eat a variety of live bait such as worms or nightcrawlers, crayfish, snails as well as minnows, frogs, and other small fish.  Although they prefer live bait they also will bite well on stink baits, chicken livers, shrimp or squid.  Channel catfish prefer moving water but are found in all types of streams, rivers and lakes where a food source is plentiful.  It is not uncommon to catch a channel cat on artificial lures.  Best catfish bait is soft crawdads or stink bait.
Blue Cat - catfish bait, minnows Blue Catfish – The blue cat is the largest species of catfish found in the US.  Their range is the Mississippi river drainage but also exist in large reservoirs across the US.  Blue cats have been caught to over 100lbs with a world record of 130lbs.   They prefer to catch their food and will eat a variety of live baits.such as minnows or live bait fish.  They also take cut bait.  Blue cats prefer fast deep water or the edge of a rift where food may be washed in or below dams where baitfish are cut up in a turbine and expelled.  Best catfish bait is any  live baitfish at least 4 inches long. 
Flathead catfish - catfish bait, small fish Flathead catfish – Commonly called yellow cat or shovelhead catfish can grow up to 120lbs. Their range in the US is from the great lakes to Mexico, west to Arizona and east to the Appalachians. Flatheads live in deep pools and slow moving large rivers eating live fish such as shad, herring, sunfish, goldfish, carp or bullheads and crustaceans.   The use of fish for bait is the best choice for flatheads. Catfish bait should be lively, 5-12 inches long.   Another popular way to catch flathead is noodling catfish or using your hands.
White Catfish - catfish bait, worms

White Catfish — White catfish are native to the East coast and across the southern Gulf States from Florida to Texas.  They also can be found in Oregon and most parts of California.  They prefer slower current and muddy river bottoms. White catfish eat a variety of fish, snails, crayfish and worms.  They can be caught on stink baits, worms and crayfish.  They are larger than bullheads but smaller than channel cats with an unconfirmed record at 20lbs in California.  Best catfish bait is stink bait.

Best time to use  catfish bait.

Most all catfish feed at night.  It is best to fish for catfish from dusk to dawn. Avoid bright areas if fishing in the daytime.  Generally fishing on bottom will provide the best results except when fishing with live fishing bait.  Catfish are aggressive and are not hard to catch.  They will generally pick up a bait and run with it providing a good opportunity to set the hook.  It is also a good fish for kids because they will often swallow the bait or hook themselves.

You will need to adjust your fishing tackle and catfish bait for the type and size of catfish you are fishing for.  A light fishing reel and fishing pole will work fine when fishing for bulheads in a pond.  However if fishing for larger fish you may need a variety of fishing rigs.  My other posts will help you find the right fishing tackle and set up you fishing rigs. 

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