Q: what do I use as fish baits?
A: Believe it or not, chunks of soap are considered “traditional” bait for reeling in catfish, and fishermen have been using them for centuries. Brands of “pure” soap, with no added scents or chemicals, work best, as do homemade lye soaps.
2. Canned meat
Q: Can I use canned meat for fish bait?
A: Everyone’s favorite World War II-era canned meats not only taste delicious with pineapple (just ask Hawaiians) but make an excellent catfish bait. In 2001, an Arkansas fisherman set the record for the largest catfish ever caught by rod and reel (at the time) by snagging a 116-pound, 12-ounce blue catfish with the stuff. The man claimed he didn’t realize his bait was unusual—it’s what his father and grandfather had used all their lives.
3. Dog food
Q: Can I use dog food as fish bait?
A: Fido’s chow of choice is also popular with fish. Anglers debate whether wet or dry is the way to go, but many agree that dog food (sometimes wrapped in cheesecloth or mixed with corn starch, water, and flour to create a doughy consistency) is great for catching carp, catfish, and certain species of panfish.
4. Chicken liver
Q: Can I use chicken liver for fish bait?
A: Not only a staple on trendy farm-to-table menus (in mousse form, served with dainty crostini), chicken liver is also at home in a tackle box. Thanks largely to their smell, livers are alluring to catfish as well as hybrid and freshwater striped bass.
Q: Can I use raisins or berries for fish bait?
A: Fruit baits, such as persimmons and mulberries, are great for catching fish. Carp especially are known to congregate in the water near low-hanging mulberry bushes, waiting for the fruit to fall. One expert fisherman from Alabama swears by golden raisins as bait. Particularly during the summer months, he says, the raisins swell on the hooks and begin to ferment. The smell and the bright color make them irresistible to catfish, especially when fishing at night.
6. Chewing gum
Q: Can I use bubble gum for fish bait?
A: Yes, you can! And you should preferably use gum of the bubble variety. The key, anglers swear, is chewing the gum for a few minutes before sticking it to the hook. But don’t chew for too long! Fish, especially catfish and trout, are drawn to the gum’s sweet flavor.
Q: Can I use candy as fish bait?
A: Fish seem to have a weakness for sweets. Fishermen have reported success with nearly everything found in the candy aisle, from chocolate bars to gummy fish (the latter helped one fisherman land a non-gummy 4-foot sand shark).
Sour worms are known to be particularly appealing to fish because of their bright colors and shape (which, of course, mimics that of a real nightcrawler).
Q: Can I use marshmallows as fish bait?
A: Miniature marshmallows, the kind you add to your hot cocoa, are tried and true baits for catching trout, particularly stocked rainbow trout. Bluegill and some species of sunfish are also reported to have a taste for the confection.
9. Hot dogs
Q: Can I use hot dogs as fish bait?
A: Anglers who run out of worms have been known to turn to frankfurters in their time of need. Similar in shape to surface plug lures, ripped up bits of hot dogs attract bluegills brilliantly. A fishing guide from South Carolina claims that chicken or turkey hot dogs, as opposed to ones made from all beef, are most enticing to catfish.
Q: What's the weirdest fish bait?
A: One man’s trash is another man’s—or fish’s, as the case may be—lunch. Some anglers claim to have had great success fishing with the cigarette butts they’ve picked up off the bank, saying they’ve used them to hook as many as 100 fish in a single afternoon.
Q: Can I use corn as fish bait?
A: Canned corn particularly is known to be a great bait for reeling in trout, carp, bluegill, and perch. Some fishermen recommend throwing a handful of whole kernels into an area where fish are spawning before lowering their hook—laden with three or four kernels—into the water to incite a “carp attack.” Rainbow trout raised in hatcheries are especially susceptible to corn bait.