What’s the Best Bait for Catfish in Lakes?

Fishing for either smaller or bigger catfish is a lot of fun and can also be at times very challenging. Although it is known as being a type of fish that will eat almost anything, they prefer a particular range of baits. They can detect and smell the difference between their prey at a distance so to anticipate their movement and get them to bite - you should also use the best bait for catfish in lakes to even the odds.

Because of their honed senses, catfish are known for their habit of first sampling the waters around the hook, and since you will be fishing in lakes, their ability to taste it from a distance further enhanced. So before picking the right type of lures, you ought to know for which ones to opt first. The choice usually comes down to cut sections, live fish and dip baits.

If you wish to catch trophy size catfish, then you have to go out well prepared for any situation that is unless you want to come back home empty handed. Usually, catfish prefer live and flashy bait above all so you can’t go wrong with either kind of live and kicking fish on the hook.

This useful guide will show you in detail different sorts of the most effective lures for catching these bottom dwelling behemoths.


Why don't we recommend using artificial baits at all?


The short answer is - because of their ineffectiveness on this type of fish. Catfish like a challenge and since your fishing area will usually be still water lakes, these baits will remain static on hooks and never attract the needed attention for your prey to bite. Because these bottom lurkers prefer living lures, you will be better off going for a natural solution instead.



These are a type of a universal bait that works well for catching all kinds of catfish. Their strong smell and wriggling action attracts attention and makes them an irresistible lure. To make the best use of these make sure to stack more than five in a ball shape on 3/0 hooks and your all set to go. Their motion will cover the hook ends and make them seem like an easy target.

Apparently, nightcrawlers work great in calm waters such as lakes since their smell and movements create a large scent area around the hook. It will motivate bottom dwelling catfish to spring into action and go for a bite. You can also aim for underwater crevices and logs where these big fish usually reside when not active.



Live shad is always an effective bait for catching both big and small types of catfish. Since they’re available in large numbers in lakes and rivers, you will have little difficulty finding them to use as bait. They are very smelly and tasty, and that will be enough to get the attention of your target bottom dweller.

The best why of using shad is to slice it up into smaller pieces for both the spread around the fishing area and hook attaching. You can create a sort of fillet strips by cutting off the tail and the head and make long body cuts. Use the entrails and guts to create a luring area but don’t overdo it as you only want to raise attention and lure catfish towards hooks.

Specifically, for flathead catfish, you want to leave at least palm size shad alive and kicking on the hooks to attract interest with motion. As usual, lower the hooks near underwater crevices, rocks, and logs to maximize your catching success. After that, it becomes a waiting game until you feel the first impulse of the downward pull of the whole line.




There isn’t a flathead catfish in this world that doesn’t like the taste of these small invertebrates. They only sweep lake and river floors just to find this delicious treat. Crayfish are easy to catch under rocks and smaller areas of shallow water with a natural cover.

Most fishers know that the best time to get them is when the catfish catching season begins which is a very convenient coincidence.

We suggest hanging them with their tails facing the business end of the hooks. It will leave them enough mobility to attract your prey with rapid motions in one place. To maximize your chances for a successful catch, make sure to use bigger size crayfish.

Dip baits


There are plenty of both industrial and homemade dip baits advertised as being the best bait for catfish in lakes. These are all using their extreme sense of smell to their advantage. Available in all shapes and sizes, these usually very bad smelling lures, will work wonders for your catching performance.

The best way of using the full potential of dips in still waters like lakes is to group them in a circle area to attract your prey. You will have a tough time keeping them on hooks since they quickly dissolve in water. However, nothing is stopping you from using rubber worms with holes that can be full of dip.

The Conclusion

Catching these timid giants is loads of fun and offers so much chance of pulling a trophy that will make an excellent placeholder on your wall. Lake fishing can prove to be a bit more challenging although once you get used to it and find the perfect type of bait, you will start filling up your boat in no time at all. Another important consideration should be areas for baiting and hooks.

Spend a couple of hours experimenting and if nothing works, pull out your trusty fish finder to get faster results. Once you get comfortable, start baiting and wait for the line to pull back. Remember that this is a powerful fish and it can certainly pull hard so make sure to have an appropriate gear for the job.

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment:

Web Analytics