By Pete Rogers
The anchor held the boat over a ledge on Lake Wateree in central South Carolina. Below us was a flurry of fish.
On the left side of the boat we cast four rods with a cheese-based stink bait, while on the right side were four rods with a blood-based bait.
Early summer is a great time to bring out strong smelling baits for big cats. Today was no different as we lay in wait to see what was going to happen.
Early summer and catfishing go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s hard to have one without the other.
Catching catfish is as varied a tactic as in all of fishing. These non-game fish are some of the best tasting and most voracious feeders in the waters.
Ask ten different catfishermen what their ‘go-to’ bait is and you’ll likely get ten different answers.
Everything from hotdogs, to bubblegum, live fish, dead fish, chicken livers, beef livers, and even dogfood has been used to catch catfish.
If there is one thing in common, it’s the aromas these baits produce that seem to draw them in.
Many years ago, someone decided to make the stinkiest, most pungent bait and see if it would work catching big cats.
Ever since then, companies have made a lot of money selling “stink bait,” as it’s become appropriately known.
A quick internet search yields a plethora of recipes for stink bait.
These recipes can be very complex or contain only two ingredients. Whether you decide to purchase commercial stink bait or make your own, it really comes down to two things – stink and consistency.
The stink is used to draw the fish in to investigate. The consistency is what ensures the bait stays on the hook until the fish eats it.
The most common stink baits have either a blood base or cheese base. Both of these ingredients have a strong smell to them and seem to attract fish from a distance.
During the hotter months, cheese seems to work better in warm waters of the South—but the best thing to do is experiment.
Using several types of stink bait, anchor and cast each in different directions off the boat and see if one gets more hits than another. Then once determined, switch everything over to that bait.
Stink baits are held on the hook by three methods. One is a sponge that slides over the shank of a treble hook. A second is a “catfish worm,” a rubber tube on a shank of a treble hook that is filled with the bait. Lastly are dough balls that are molded around the hook.
As of recently, some anglers—who target only the biggest catfish—have moved to a fish-based stink bait.
As one told me, “What do big catfish eat? They eat other fish. So why not make a bait that smells and tastes like fish?”
That logic has created some fine stink baits with a strong fish aroma. These baits are extremely pungent and care should be taken when using them.
Personal experience has taught me to use a small stick to push my hooks into the stink bait and then cast it into the water. I am very careful to never touch the bait.
One touch and you’ll smell like dead fish for a few days until it wears off. And believe me, no one wants that!
When used properly, stink baits can be very effective. So if chasing large catfish is what you’re after, the stronger the stink, the better.