How To: Make Catfish Bait

By MDC | July 1, 2024
From Xplor: July/August 2024

Every inch of  a catfish’s slippery skin, from its whiskery barbels to the tip of its tail, is covered with taste buds. But this sense-sational skin isn’t made to savor flavors. It helps a catfish nab snacks in dark, murky water.

Store-bought catfish bait is full of stinky stuff — like dead fish, smelly cheese, or blood — so catfish can find it in murky water. It works really well, but it smells really bad! If you want to use a bait that isn’t so stinky, try this instead.

Here’s what you need

  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 can of cream soda or 2 cups of a fruit-flavored drink
  • 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract or garlic powder
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Zip-top plastic bags
  • Treble hooks (size 4 or 6)

Here’s what you do

  1. Mix the cornmeal and flour together in a bowl.
  2. Add a can of cream soda (or 2 cups of fruit drink) and the vanilla extract (or garlic powder) to the bowl. Stir everything together to make a wet dough.
  3. Dust a countertop with flour and dump the dough on top. Knead the dough — as if you were making bread — for 10 to 15 minutes, until the dough is stretchy and isn’t too sticky. You may need to add more flour if the dough seems too wet.
  4. Stow the dough in a zip-top bag or airtight container.
  5. When you’re ready to fish, roll a bit of dough into a ball the size of a grape. Press a treble hook into the dough and mold the dough around the hook so none of the barbs are showing.

Tie the treble hook onto your fishing line and toss it into catfish-infested waters. Good luck!

Also In This Issue


Forget about desert islands and pirate chests filled with gold. A much sweeter treasure is ripe for the taking, right here in Missouri.

This Issue's Staff

Artist – Matt Byrde
Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Subscriptions – Marcia Hale
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber