In most areas, anglers have access to the smaller members of the catfish family, including bullheads, white catfish, and channel cats. In some areas, anglers may also encounter larger species such as blue catfish and flatheads.
Some catfish baits will attract a number of freshwater fish, while others tend to be ignored by other types of fish. For anglers seeking a variety of species, nightcrawlers are usually one of the best baits. In addition to catching catfish, nightcrawlers may catch sunfish, crappie, bass, yellow perch, white perch, trout, suckers, and other fish.
Baits for catching species such as bullheads, channel cats and white catfish include worms (nightcrawlers, earthworms, red wigglers), insect larvae (maggots, waxworms, grubs, hellgrammites), adult insects (crickets, grasshoppers), household foods (corn, dough balls, bread, cheese, hot dogs, chicken livers), seafood, particularly shellfish (shrimp, crawfish, clams), "stink baits" (home made or store bought), salmon eggs, minnows, cut fish, or other baits.
Most catfish anglers prefer to rig baits so that they lie on or near the bottom. Top and bottom rigs, bobber-hook rigs, and live bait rigs are among the most common presentations. Hook styles may include live bait, treble, or circle hooks.
Catfish can also be caught using artificial lures. They often strike jig - plastic grub combinations, plastic worms or other lures. Scented lure bodies are popular as they offer extra appeal to catfish.
For large species such as flathead catfish or blue catfish, anglers often prefer using live baits or larger cut baits. Live shad, suckers, shiners, eels or other baits are preferable when targeting these monster fish. Cut baits are also used, including large fish fillets, or whole dead baits. Other dead baits include chicken parts, whole frogs, salamanders or other unusual baits.