Catfish have a reputation for being lowly bottom feeders who love every foul scent and taste put in front of them.
But could the stink baits that are foul smelling to anglers be just as unappealing to the catfish?
Stink baits are mostly used by anglers with strong noses. The brave anglers who dip their hooks in store or homemade stink baits hope that the horrible scent will lure in that big cat.
Marcos De Jesus, district manager and biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s fishing hatcheries, recommends that stink baits cater mostly to the channel catfish because they are not as selective and carnivorous as blues and flatheads.
For the select few who still make their own recipes, their ingredient list includes chicken livers, hearts, blood, dog food, Tabasco sauce, corn, corn starch and bran flakes. De Jesus approves most ingredients as viable stink baits as long as the ingredients are not toxic to the water and the fish.
“Most stink bait ingredients break down,” he said. “The quantity people use isn’t enough to cause any damage to the waters.”
A misconception of stink bait is that is causes a catfish to strike. In reality, the goal of stink bait is to lure catfish into your area. Catfish will follow scents, especially of oils coming from live shad. De Jesus agrees the more foul the bait to the angler, the more potent it will be to the catfish.
“The stronger the scent, the farther it will travel,” said De Jesus. “But that doesn’t mean the catfish will bite.”
De Jesus and his team don’t know what stink bait catfish “like” or “prefer” but they do know the anglers using stink bait are taking the right approach to lure in catfish.
De Jesus has seen cases of baits exposed with deet found in bug spray when anglers spray their hands and then touch the bait. The deet provides a repellent effect to catfish. De Jesus also said some anglers use WD40 on their lures, which can attract fish because it’s synthetic oil, but is bad for the fish and the water.
De Jesus recommends anglers keep deet off their stink baits and stink bait off their hands.