Can you Use Goldfish as Bait for Catfish?

Goldfish are freshwater fish that fish keepers love, but they have more uses as pets. These pet goldfish can also act as bait for some fish that eat them. Catfish are fish that like eating goldfish, and goldfish can be used as bait for catfish. Goldfish can be a very good bait for catfish if you look at all its advantages.

Why use Goldfish as Bait

One important thing to remember is that goldfish are not an effective bait for all fish. Only some fish eat them as bait. Since catfish are one of them, some people like to use them.


The biggest reason that goldfish are used as bait is their availability. Goldfish are one of the most famous pet fishes in the world, and they are found in almost all pet stores. Since they are so available, you will not have to find some specialized shop to find bait for catfish which is one of the most prevalent fish out there to go after.

It is cheap

Well, since goldfish are so common, means that they are also cheaper compared to other baits. It is one of the most affordable fish you will find if you know where to get them. Regardless, it is easier to buy bait that does not cost much too.

It can last longer

Goldfish are very hardy fish that can live in various environments. This means that they can be used in freshwater and that they will remain alive for a long time. This is why, even when not used and kept in a bucket, goldfish can survive for a while on just food to be reused again when the time is right. Most baits cannot survive for this long.

It is more attractive

A goldfish is a very attractive bait that can lure catfish out of any hiding spot. This is because they are brightly colored, meaning a fish will look at them instead of other dull-colored bait that blends with the environment. Moreover, since the goldfish will try to break free of the bait, it will also make movements that will attract the fish.

It is a great live bait

Since goldfish can survive in many different conditions and are attractive to work with, they act as great live bait. Live bait is the most effective form of bait that can lure fish out of hiding because the hooked fish will move around, and the catfish knows it is alive.

It is easy to work with

Lastly, it is very easy to work with because, unlike other baits, goldfish do not stink or make a mess. Neither goldfish are slimy or hard to use, which makes it easier to clean up and deal with. Even when dead, they do not stink like most other fish, which smell even worse once cut open. Catfish also like stinky baits in general, like blood baits, and this is normally a type of bait used when fishing for catfish.


Can you Always use Goldfish as Bait?

You cannot always use goldfish as bait because in some states, it is not legal to fish with goldfish because it can be an invasive species. When goldfish are used as bait, if they survive, they will compete with the fish species in the water for food and thus ruin the ecosystem of the water.

As you know, goldfish eat a lot and almost anything that they can find. Moreover, the goldfish never stops growing, and will keep getting bigger and eating bigger fish, which makes it a very dangerous species of fish that should not be introduced randomly in a body of water. Here are some places that make it illegal to fish with goldfish.

    • Colorado

    • Connecticut

    • Georgia

    • Idaho

    • Illinois

    • Iowa

    • Kentucky

    • Maine

    • Maryland

    • Massachusetts

    • Michigan

    • Minnesota

    • Montana

    • New Hampshire

    • New Jersey

    • New Mexico

    • New York

    • Ohio

    • Oklahoma

    • Oregon

    • Pennsylvania

    • Rhode Island

    • South Dakota

    • Utah

    • Vermont

    • Washington

    • Wisconsin

    • Wyoming

As you can tell, many places make it illegal to use goldfish as bait, and you must learn the laws of the place you are fishing in. Always follow the laws when fishing to make sure you create a situation where you keep the ecosystem healthy for the current and future fishermen.

How to use Goldfish as Bait

Using goldfish as bait is as simple as using other fish, like a minnow. You will need a circle octopus hook, a medium-heavy fishing rod with matched reel, and a 20-pound test or heavier monofilament fishing line. This will help you catch most catfish and keep the squirming goldfish in place. Make sure to push the hook through one side of the goldfish and out the other, but just in front of the dorsal fin. Do not harm the spine of the goldfish by pushing the hook too harshly or deeply, as this will affect the swimming ability of goldfish, and it might not attract catfish.

If you let the goldfish swim naturally in the water, it will cause catfish, especially channel catfish, to attack the hook, and then it all depends on how fast and how strongly you can reel it out and catch it. You could also use goldfish as a cut bait if you didn’t want to try it on a hook. Depending on the size of the catfish you are going after you might have varied success depending on the freshness of the goldfish. Given catfish’s ability to use their barbels in helping them sense smells around them cut goldfish bait is also a good potential bait for catfish.


You might not have thought about using goldfish as bait for catfish, but it is definitely something that is possible. Catfish love brightly colored and live bait, and it will lure them out of their hiding spot. However, you must not use goldfish as bait in many places because it is illegal.

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