Stink baits are not designed to bring fishermen to the hook. Made with mixtures of cheese, garlic, blood and rotting minnows, the toxic concoction causes burning nose hairs and watering eyes. But there is an unwritten rule to catching catfish: the smellier the bait, the better the results. Stink baits live up to their name.

Smells like dinner. | Photo: Isaac Szabo/Engbretson Underwater Photography
Smells like dinner. | Photo: Isaac Szabo/Engbretson Underwater Photography

Catfish fishing bait

Finding the best stink bait requires trial and error. Some anglers prefer stink baits they can roll in a ball and mold onto the hook. Other folks like punch baits, requiring a screwdriver to poke a hole in the bait to release a substance resembling the dregs in the bottom of a Port-A-John.

I prefer a blood-based punch bait. I find its aroma especially putrid. With the first rule in mind, I choose the stinkiest of the stink baits.

A word of caution: unless you enjoy eating your favorite snack with hands smelling like an overflowing septic tank, rubber gloves will separate your skin from catfish kryptonite.

Catfishing rig

To maximize the effects of its rankness, fish the stink bait just off the bottom where it can spread its acrid aromas over a greater distance.

A Santee-Cooper rig is just the ticket. Developed on the Santee-Cooper lake system in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, the Santee rig is guaranteed to provide extra umph to the stink.

To tie a Santee rig, start with a simple Carolina rig: a half-ounce egg weight on top of a barrel swivel with two feet of monofilament leader.

Next, thread the leader through a sliding cork and add an appropriate-sized hook to match the bait. The egg weight keeps the line on the bottom while the cork suspends the bait out of the mud.

Catfishing near me

I am always trying to find new places to go catfishing near me and I find another key to success is to find deep water. Fish near main channels serving as thoroughfares guiding catfish from one part of a lake to another. Deep holes along the edges of rivers are another hotspot. Steep drops and edges offer big catfish a place to rest and feed.

The 3 keys to success are a good location, a well-tied rig and a bait strong enough to send your olfactory senses into overdrive. This is the guaranteed recipe for putting fillets in your freezer. Even if the bait stinks, fried catfish smells delicious.

Smells like dinner. | Featured Photo: Isaac Szabo/Engbretson Underwater Photography


  1. I have really good luck with fresh caught shad and bluegill, hooked behind the pectoral fin with a Gamakatsu 0/8 circle hook tied to a 2 foot leader to a heavy swivel and a 2 oz. slider disc weight, also have luck with raw shrimp. Good luck and tight lines…


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