Catfish Basics #051 – Fresh Bait – James “Bink” Fox
Finding fresh bait is key to catfishing success. Two of the main bait fish we use are shad and skipjack, but other fin fish also need to be as fresh as possible for best success.
Live shad are popular on the Ohio River, both cut and live. We use the fish finder to locate them in or around the marinas where we capture them with a cast net. The next challenge is to keep them alive. In my opinion shad is definitely better alive, if you can keep them that way. We have a Grayline Bait Tank to keep them alive. The secret to keeping them fresh and lively is changing the filter frequently.
Skipjack are better fresh too. They can usually be found below dams using a piscator rig, small spoon or crappie jigs. Up north where it’s hard to get them live minnows may be the way to go. When skipjack are tough we will use live minnows and they will get the job done.
When you catch skips it best to put them on ice immediately. Don’t let them lay in water or they will go bad. If their eyes are red or cloudy they are going the wrong direction I keep mine dry and as cold has possible without freezing them. If we can’t catch them fresh we use our own freshly frozen skips from another day, or we buy them.
We use both shad and skipjack. If we cut them I prefer the heads and Janet wants the middle. That turns out to be a personal preference.
Editor’s Note: Bink is a frequent tournament and recreational angler, often with his wife Janet Fox. The photo captured them at the recent Monsters on the Ohio Tournament in Owensboro, KY.