Do Catfish Like Frozen Bait?

Catfish like frozen bait and can be caught using frozen bait. They prefer live baits more, but frozen baits can do the trick. Since catfish have a varied diet, there are many things you can use as bait to catch them.

Catfish are usually bottom feeders who eat whatever they can in the water to survive. While catching catfish, the anglers and fishermen use a lot of unique baits, and frozen baits will work for catfish.

While, technically, frozen bait can work for catfish, there are other options that people choose. Frozen bait mainly depends on your luck. But there are some ways you can make frozen bait appealing for the catfish as well.

Frozen Perch which could be used a bait
Frozen Perch which could be used a bait

Why is frozen bait not best for catfish?

Catfish are known as opportunistic feeders. There are many catfish species, and most live at the bottom and eat whatever they can get. But there is some reason that frozen bait is the last option that people choose for catching catfish.

Scent of bait

Well, the biggest reason is that frozen food does not smell strong. For catfish bait to work the best, it has to smell very strongly. Something like bacon is an excellent bait for catfish because bacon smells strong. The point is the more potent the bait smells, the more likely catfish will take it. The reason is that catfish rely on their sense of smell through their barbels to look for food.

Juices of bait

Along with the scent of the bait, the juices are another vital factor that attracts the fish. If the bait is frozen during thawing, the juices are lost, and the bait gets increasingly dry. The lack of fluids means that the catfish will not be interested in bait like fresh bait.

Hooking the bait

To catch catfish, you need to hook the bait. It is a simple process with fresh bait where you hook the bait through. However, when the bait is frozen, its texture changes significantly, making it super hard to attach the bait, and you will always be worried that it will fall off. Thread is often used to keep the bait on the hook, changing the shape of the bait and making it harder to lure catfish.

It does not resemble an ordinary bait

Lastly, frozen bait does not resemble a live creature. It does not taste like standard bait because of the changes due to the freezing process. Moreover, it does not move at all. Fresh bait has some movement in the water that attracts catfish and lets them know the food is here. Therefore, due to these reasons, something other than frozen bait is preferred by anglers.

What are some reasons to use frozen bait for catfish?

Of course, there are some advantages to frozen bait for catfish.

Availability of bait

Live or fresh bait is just only sometimes available. If you catch your bait, it is more challenging some days, and you end up with no bait. In this case, frozen bait is the next best thing. Frozen bait is readily available, and most stores have frozen items you can use as bait on those days. Also, bait like this can be bought in bulk, so it is always available.

Easy to store and use bait

With availability, there is the bonus of it being easier to store. You can buy frozen bait in bulk and store it in your freezer; it can be used anytime you need it. You can store bait for up to 6 months without it being useless, but ideally, you should use it within one week of frozen. Regardless, it lasts longer than ordinary bait, which cannot survive in the bait cooler for extended periods.

Affordability of bait

If you think about buying frozen bait in bulk, it is a cheaper option in the long term than buying or catching fresh bait. Also, if you catch bait yourself, you can freeze it, which saves money because you do not need to repeatedly catch new bait, which requires money for bait used to capture the main bait.

How to use frozen bait for catfish?

Since fresh bait for catfish is less typical than fresh bait, there are some steps and steps you need to take to use it effectively. First, if you catch your fresh bait, you can store it in brine instead of freezing it. This will keep bait fresh for a more extended period of time. However, if you still want to use frozen bait because you do not have a brine solution, here is how to use the frozen bait.

Step 1

The first step is to thaw the frozen bait completely. It would help to keep the frozen bait in the fridge overnight to allow it to thaw. You could also use cold tap water to soften it more quickly. If it is not thawed, the frozen bait will not hook on, and it will not smell at all, which will be terrible bait, especially for catfish, as we discussed earlier.

Step 2

Even after the bait has thawed completely, it probably will not smell much. Now, if you do not have time or do not want to put in the effort, you can use the bait after thawing, but we recommend adding aroma enhancements. This means keeping the bait soaked in a strong-smelling solution like blood or vinegar; you can dip it in before using it. This way, the bait will regain some of its smell, increasing its effect on catfish that depends on its sense of smell.

Step 3

This step is unnecessary for all frozen bait, but some bait, like shrimp and cut bait, lose its texture when frozen. When thawed, it can turn soft and mushy, which does not stay on the hook. It would be best to have bait thread or rubber bands to ensure it stays on the hook and gives it somewhat of a shape. It will take some time to secure it entirely on the hook, but it is a crucial step, or the bait will fall off in the water, and you will waste your time and bait.

Fishing in winter
Fishing in winter

Fishing for catfish in the winter

Now let us talk about a related topic: fishing for catfish in winter. The bait is the most important thing to catch catfish, but the technique is also super important. This is why we discuss how to catch catfish in wintertime when most people think fishing for catfish is near impossible. But we are here to tell you it is possible and your new favorite time to catch catfish.

Before starting, you must know that catching catfish in winter takes work. You need some experience in fishing before you can venture into catching catfish in the wintertime. Wintertime catfish fishing requires more effort and luck, so here are our tips on how to succeed.

Know the place you are fishing at

The first tip for catching catfish is to know the lake or any body of water well before hitting it for catching catfish. Know where the deepest spots are in the water and where catfish usually assemble in the winter. Usually, in winter, the fish congregate together in one area to stay warm. If you find that area one winter, it’s like hitting the jackpot, and every winter, you will find the catfish hiding there. Research the area before fishing, go ask, or camp around it to learn about it.

Go at depth when fishing

As mentioned above, catfish form huddles and hide in deeper water, forming a group of many fish. In lakes, these holes can be near the mouths of rivers and creeks, dumping into the lake. These need to be around 20 feet or more deep. These include mouths of streams and rivers and the mouth of reservoir “fingers” or sewage treatment plant warm water dump locations where power plants dump warm water. These are areas with warmer water.

Be slower

Since it’s winter, the catfish slow down their metabolism and move slower, and you need to move the bait around slowly. Catfish only need a little food in winter, so you really need to entice them with the bait. Allow the bait to stay in the strike zone longer, and also use a slip sinker rig or a bottom rig with a stationary bait presentation for better results with catfish fishing.

Look into using a fish finder devices

Since looking for catfish is the hardest part of winter fishing, you can get a fish finder to help you find the golden hole. If you find the spot where the catfish are huddled together, you can catch many fish in just one trip. This means taking help from ice flashers, fish finders, and sonar devices. These will go into deep holes where you can locate whether there are catfish or not before sending your fishing hook.

Choose the right bait

In winter fishing, it is essential to select the right bait. You cannot use frozen bait or bait that does not work well with catfish. It would be best to have fresh-cut baits like shad, herring, or skipjack. Also, nightcrawlers, chicken livers, or stink baits are great options too. The bait needs a potent smell to be able to entice the catfish. The bait should resemble proper fish, be as fresh as possible, and send it deep into the holes so the catfish will crave it. Although the catfish does not need much food in winter, it does need food, and that too without much effort, which is why a powerful bait will make them come out of the hole.

Choose the right time

Not to mention, it is super important to choose the right time. Just because it is winter does not mean you can fish all day. You need to select the right time, which is the hottest time of the day. This means in the middle of the day or the afternoon. The hottest part of the day is when the catfish will be looking for food, more active, and willing to take the bait. Also, do not try catfishing if the day is excessively cold, more than the average winter day, or you probably will not be able to catch a fish.

Dress warmly

Lastly, as someone fishing in the winter, make sure to put on the right clothes. If you freeze out there, you will be less patient. It is also essential to stay warm to prevent hypothermia because being comfortable and safe while fishing is the most important. Take an extra coat if it gets colder while on the water. It is best to leave when it gets uncomfortable instead of staying too long.


Now you know a lot about catfish’s preference for frozen food and how you can make it more edible. We also mentioned how to fish for catfish in winter to make the experience successful and fun for all of you.

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