Best Catfish Bait for Lakes 2021/2024 – Buyer’s Guide

Best Catfish Bait for Lakes

Most catfish species are top predators, meaning they will attack wiggling live baits. Because the entire body of a fish of this type is covered in smell detectors, highly stinky artificial lures are incredibly efficient. 

Many anglers wonder if live baits are better than lures. Although artificial baits can be very good in certain cases, live ones also have extraordinary benefits. In this case, we will talk about the best catfish baits for lakes. 

1. Our Top Pick: Punch Bait 
2. Best OverallShad Bait 
3. Best Value: Shrimp Bait 

One of the most critical elements that we must consider when fishing any fish, in this case, a catfish, is the bait. The size, color, style, texture, or general presentation of bait is important aspects that an angler must take into account when catching a catfish.

This is because each fish is different, and it is not the same to catch a bass or trout as a catfish. For example, certain bait odors may attract more catfish than other types of fish and vice versa. 

Table of Contents

Best Catfish Bait for Lakes

Chicken Livers Bait 

A chicken liver is probably the most strongly associated bait with catfishing. The reason for this is that livers attract a lot of catfish. Chicken livers attract cats from all over because of their pungent, meaty odor. These fish have a hard time resisting the bait when they locate it. 

Livers aren’t known for attracting a lot of big catfish. Chicken livers, on the other hand, are particularly fruitful for channel catfish under 10 lb. They’re also cheap and can be found in any supermarket. 

One significant disadvantage of using chicken livers as bait is that they might be hard to maintain on the hook at first. Once they’ve been in the water for a few minutes, they harden up. However, if you’re not cautious, you can end up throwing this bait considerably further than your hook goes. 

Using treble hooks and tiny bits of bait is one of the most effective ways to keep these organs hooked. The bait can be hooked in a variety of positions, and the three hooks’ curves work together to hold the bait in place. You only need to perform lob casts rather than fast-action snapping throws after that. 

Livers also operate best for the first 20 minutes after hooking up. They lose a huge amount of their juices and also a lot of their appeal over time. Fishers should re-bait rigs on a regular basis and always start with a fresh piece of the chicken liver when moving to a different location. 

Where channel or blue catfish are the major attraction and currents aren’t too strong, chicken livers perform well. Super strength currents, such as those found in dam tailraces, frequently shred livers from hooks before the catfish have a possibility to discover and devour the bait. 

All you normally require to add to the line for lakes, ponds, or other small-water environments is a split shot or, in many cases, two of them. Additional weight is usually required in larger rivers or lakes. 


  • The blood from the livers attracts the fish; therefore, it’s an excellent choice in these cases. 
  • This product is good for first-time anglers. 
  • They are excellent for catching channel and blue catfish. 


  • This product may not be effective on all types of catfish due to its strong odor. 

Shad Bait 

Shad is one of the best foods for catfish. Adult flathead catfish eat almost entirely live fish, and shad are frequently included in the diet since they are found near river channels, where these types of catfish spend the majority of their time.

Even channel catfish, which eat a small amount of just about everything, both alive and dead, switch to fish diets once they reach about 10 lb. 

Since they are a common natural feed and are typically easily available to fishers, shad make excellent bait in most lakes and a lot of rivers. In streams where shad aren’t the biggest attraction, the same rules apply to numerous minnows and other baitfish types. 

In general, shad must be chopped into strips or pieces, with the size and kind of sliced determined by the height and length of the catfish being pursued as well as the size of the bait, in this case, the shad.

Slicing off the tail and head and cutting throughout the body to make strips is possibly the most effective technique to chop a shad. If the strips appear to be too big, they could be cut in half. Some fishers, on the other hand, recommend filleting big shad and cutting the fillets up or using tiny shad, either whole or cut in half. 

The guts of a huge shad must also not be overlooked. The entrails emit a pungent odor that attracts bites almost instantly. Although shad guts might not produce as many big fish as pieces of fillets, they really get the rod tip twirling and are certainly worth placing there for the catfish to explore. 

Shad must be alive and palm-sized for catfish, especially flathead ones. Baits should indeed be placed on or close to the bottom, near the dense cover, and good structure.

Flatheads are found near the bank of rivers or channel confluences or along curves in old streams or river channels in reservoirs. Some of them, as well as other types of catfish, can also be found in lakes where this bait works well. 

The package of this product contains several of these fish so that you can use them as delicious baits for catfish. It should be noted that this product is not only excellent for catfish but also for other fish such as bass, trout, panfish, and striped bass. 


  • It is a portion of delicious food for catfish. 
  • The shad can be used as bait not only for catfish but also for other types of fish. 
  • The pack comes with several baits, so you can use them multiple times. 


  • The shad is a bait that must be cut in specific ways for certain types of catfish since we must remember that they are not all the same size. 

Punch Bait

Some anglers build their own punch baits using closely guarded secret formulas passed down through the generations. Others have preferred to buy commercially prepared mixtures by the case. Punch baits, whether homemade or purchased, are sticky mixtures that normally smell awful, yet catfish can’t get enough of them. 

While all punch baits have a nasty odor, that isn’t enough to draw catfish to a tub of bait. A cheese foundation or some form of protein content is required for punch bait. In this case, this bait is created with shad, wild hoppers, crawdads, or minnows. 

The consistency of the bait is crucial. Punch bait should be soft enough to break up slowly but firm enough to not break off soon. That provides a lot of balance when fishing in a stream which is where this punch bait performs best. 

Since the rushing water takes bait bits downstream when the punch bait splits up, producing a chum line that flows to the hook, punch baits function best when we are fishing in the stream.

They frequently out-produce other baits in reservoir or rivers areas with a lot of current going through them. These punch baits, in the same way, are an excellent alternative for catfish fishing in lakes. 

Punch baits rarely stay on hooks by themselves. There isn’t anything solid to hook into. Fishermen instead purchase “worms,” which are typically tubes with perforations or ringworm-style rubber worms. All of them are made to hold the bait for a short time before gradually releasing it. 

During the middle of the summer, it’s best to keep these punch baits in the shade. Most of them thin out in the heat, making it difficult to hold them on the hook. Some brands sell chemical thickeners to help thicken punch baits that become too thin on hot days. 


  • This type of bait has a high level of effectiveness when it comes to catching a catfish in a short time. 
  • This punch bait is delicious for catfish. 
  • It can be made of different species like shad, crawdad, minnow, etc. 


  • This bait must be used cautiously due to its strong odor. Perhaps not all fishermen have a strong nose to withstand it. 

Nightcrawlers Bait

Putting a worm on a hook is the most basic kind of fishing. Nightcrawlers are still among the best baits for luring catfish into biting. They have a natural odor, and catfish appear to enjoy them. 

This product is packaged with 13 units, each measuring 6 inches. These nightcrawlers look, feel, and smell like live nightcrawlers. 

The general rule with nightcrawlers and catfish is that the bigger they are, the better. Even little catfish enjoy eating large, juicy worms. If you really can only locate small and medium worms, it’s usually a good idea to put 2 or 3 on a hook.

Catfish, unlike other fish, are usually unconcerned about how nightcrawlers are placed on the hook. They eat primarily by taste and smell rather than sight; thus, the more nightcrawlers wrapped around and sewed onto the hook, the higher your possibilities of catching a catfish that bites. 

Suspending a nightcrawler beneath afloat, just off the bottom, is a really efficient and often ignored strategy for catfishing with these baits.

This is particularly effective when catfish are gathered near stumps, downed tree roots, or downed trees along riverbanks. The float enables you to accurately offer bait and maneuver it around to find catfish hiding undercover. 

Nightcrawlers make excellent catfish baits for outings with children because they don’t have to be sliced up and aren’t as dirty as livers or punch bait. Children soon pick up on how to tie this bait to hooks so that the worms do not fall off.  


  • They are excellent for fishing using spinner rigs. 
  • Its scent and flavor formula is exclusive. 
  • These nightcrawlers smell and look like they are alive. 
  • This type of bait is perfect for children as it is easier to use. 
  • They come in a pack of 13 units. 


  • These nightcrawlers can get tough if left in the sun. 
  • Their appearance might not be the most delicious for catfish as they generally prefer to eat live nightcrawlers. 

Shrimp Bait 

Live freshwater shrimp and raw dead saltwater shrimp could both catch a lot of bullheads and channel catfish. Shrimp can also be useful for catching little blue catfish. 

This product contains high levels of proteins, fatty amino acids, 100% natural oils, and real shrimp, giving it a fragrance that catfish can’t resist. This bait does not need the use of a sponge or treble hook. This bait will remain on your hook no matter where you’re fishing and what hook you are using, including a J hook. 

The design of this cubed bait is such that as soon as it reaches the water, it begins to release a tremendous scent track. It captures catfish such as blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, and bullhead catfish.  

There are no filthy or stinky hands with this bait because it is water-triggered. Garlic salt can be sprinkled on dead shrimp as an additional bonus. 

For catfish, shrimp will not work as well as fish, but for small channel catfish, this product is simple and efficient fishing bait. 

They come in an 11 oz. resealable bag.


  • It comes with 80 pieces in a 10 oz. resealable bag. 
  • It is not necessary to use sponge or treble hooks. 
  • You will not have to worry about getting your hands dirty since this product is activated when it comes into contact with water. 


  • A fish would be better bait than a shrimp-based product like this one, but it can still be effective. 

Dough Bait 

Dough baits have been used for years to catch sunfish, panfish, and especially catfish. Conventional dough baits are just soft white bread formed into marble-sized balls and soaked in an aromatic liquid such as sardine juice or bacon grease.  

With this product, you can get 4 tubs: Pole Cracker, Type-A Original, Type-B Blood, and Full Stringer. It is advisable to use this bait with dough bait hooks, spring hooks, or treble hooks. 

This product was designed to be appealing bait for practically all sorts of fish, but it works best for catfish. If you don’t think this bait will work, you can add other elements to it before putting it on the hook. 


  • They are 4 tubs of 14 oz. and each of them of a different variety that can serve you depending on your needs when catching a catfish. 
  • You can use this bait with different types of hooks. 
  • It is durable, especially if you freeze it. 


  • The Pole Cracker and the Full Stringer perform better than the Type-A Original and Type-B Blood. 

Best Catfish Bait for Lakes FAQ 

What Food Does Catfish Consume? 

Catfish have a reputation for being voracious predators. While they will consume fish and even turtles, they prefer non-aggressive food. Dead fish or creatures that have fallen into the water and drowned provide excellent catfish food. 

Catfish are lethargic by nature and occupy most of their time searching the bottom for food or backed into crevices in the bank, looking for a delicious meal. 

How Long Should Catfish Bait Be Left Out? 

The first step is to set up the rig, and then you have to let it sit. It’s best not to move the bait too frequently. Even in the greatest waters, it might be wise to leave the food in one area for an hour or more before a hungry and bigger catfish finds it. 

Where Can I Buy Catfish Bait? 

It all depends on the type of catfishing bait you’re thinking of buying. Punch baits and dough baits can be found at your local sporting goods store or online. Other baits can be purchased in your local grocery shop if you’re interested in them. 

When It Comes to Catfish Baits, How Long Do They Last? 

Generally, most bait can indefinitely last if they are kept frozen as it is a good way to preserve them for a long time. It should also be noted that baits that come in containers tend to last longer. 

How Deep in a Lake Should I Dip My Bait to Catch a Catfish? 

In lakes, the ideal depth for capturing catfish is between 4.5 and 6 meters. Since catfish live in these kinds of depths in most lakes, this is called the catfish zone. They could, nevertheless, live in shallow regions based on the season of the year and the water temperature.