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Papa’s Famous Catfish Bait Recipe

By on October 25, 2012
papas catfish bait

I recently visited my grandparents and had to help Papa clean out his tool shed.

While I was moving a tool box around, I knocked over and broke a glass bottle and was quickly hit with an absolutely disgusting smell.  I couldn’t pinpoint it but I knew it was vaguely familiar.

A few minutes later Papa came around to see how things were going and saw me gagging from the smell.  He just laughed and said I see you found my “special blend” catfish bait. That’s when the memory if the smell hit me.

When I was a kid, my family would take a week long camping trip at the end of October, to Lake Sam Rayburn, deep in the Piney Woods National Forest of East Texas.  Every morning around 4:00 am we would take the boat out and run all of our trot lines on the misty black water of the lake.  I remembered the tendrils of mist that would curl around and into the boat and the faint rustling of animals at the water’s edge as they came for a morning drink.

Of all these things I remember the smell the most.  My Grandpa would make his special blend of catfish “cheese” in January of each year and would let it sit and get “ripe” as he called it, until our camping trips.  As a child I would get as far to the back of the boat as possible but nothing would escape that smell and if it were to get on you…. You would have that lingering odor on you for days on end.  I could never believe it when we would pull up hundreds of pounds of catfish, a few alligator gar, the occasional snapping turtle, and even more rare an actual alligator. Whatever it was, that made that smell so rancid, was the same thing that made it irresistible to the fish.

It wasn’t until years later that I finally got ahold of my papa’s recipe for both his cheese bait as well as his “blood ball bait”.  These recipes have served my family quite well over the last few decades and I wanted to share them with you.

Papa’s “Special Blend” cheese bait

What you need:

-Mason jar (Papa would use an old mayonnaise jar)

-1lb of cheese spread (cheddar is preferred) the cheaper the better

-8 oz. of beef blood

– 1 container of minced garlic



-Popsicle stick

-An out of the way place allow it to ripen


To make it:

  • Allow the cheese to warm up either about 20-40 seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in the sun
  • Mix the cheese, blood, and garlic into the jar and stir until it’s evenly dispersed and there are no big chunks
  • Take the paste that you have just made and add some of the sawdust to thicken it.
  • Add a small amount at a time to avoid any big clumps
  • You want to add enough sawdust to make it tacky, almost the consistency of thick oatmeal

*If you add too much your bait will dry out and crumble; too little and it will wash off before you can land a fish

  • Once you have the right consistency, seal the cap on the jar set it in an out of the way place (preferably one that gets a good amount of sunlight.
  • You will want to let it set for a minimum of a week, but the longer the better.  Some of Papa’s bait has sat for 3 years before using it.


Using the Bait:

When it’s time to grab your tackle box and the cheese bait, make sure that you don’t forget the popsicle stick and the sponge.

Once you get to your favorite cat fishing hole it’s time to break out the cheese bait.  (You may want to cover your nose with a handkerchief to avoid some of the smell)

Cut your sponge into long thin strips and then moisten them to make the sponge more pliable. Wrap the sponge around your hook (a treble hook works best) and make sure that the barbs on the hook catch the sponge so that it will stick to the hook under water.

Use the Popsicle stick to avoid getting the bait on your hands, smear it on the sponge until it is saturated.

You want to gently cast and allow the bait to get close to the bottom but not to where it drags as this will pull the bait off the hook.

If you don’t feel any bites, pull the bait up about every hour or so and check the sponge, if it looks like most of the cheese has washed off of it, reapply and start over.

If you follow the above recipe you should have no trouble pulling in plenty of catfish for a meal.  This recipe has worked for my family for a long time and hopefully it will work for you.  There are a ton of other recipes available online using many different ingredients and I would love to know what you use and what works for you.


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'Above Average' Joe

About 'Above Average' Joe

I am just an average guy with a passion for learning. I am excited to share the things I learn with you but I am most interested in learning from you. Survival Life is more than just one man. It is a growing and living community of individuals; all with the desire to be prepared to survive and thrive no matter what this world throws at us. I look forward to growing with you! Feel free to follow me on google+

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  1. Andy

    Minced garlic comes in different size jars. what size jar do you suggest?

    • Joe


      I would go with the finest mince garlic you could find, that way you get as even of a spread of garlic in the bait as possible, that being said we have used just raw garlic cloves in the past, but the minced garlic just keeps you hands clean while your making it.

  2. farmist

    Sounds very similar to what we used when I was a kid, but we used cotton balls instead of sawdust so the fibers would hold it together on the hook and we didn’t need the sponge.

  3. Jim Watson

    I used to fish with an old timer back in the 70’s He had something like that but he never shared the recipe. Smelled terrible but really brought in the cats. First time i went he suggested a deep sea ror. I really laughted at that. When we left he told me again to get a deep sea rod, Well I did it to pacify him. I started off with a goiod shakespear rod and reel. It had brought in many bass up to but not exceeding 10 lbs. Well within minutes that rod and reel was gone. The reel stripped out. The gears was gone. Then I broke out the deep sea rig. We fished about 3 hours and filled both our freezers. Hope your bait is as good as his. By the way he lived in East Texas also. We were fishing in a rice canal in Anahuac.

  4. josh

    Can u post. A pic. Of your catch

  5. Adam

    All I say is cheap bacon on a treble hook at night.

  6. this sounds great gona try it ,thanks

  7. James

    Will try it, do you use a bobber or just gauge it close to the bottom?

  8. JERRY


  9. Roy

    I used limburger cheese and pulled apart cotton balls.

  10. Would you share the blood bait recipe ?

  11. Wild Bill

    AA Joe,

    Thanks so very much for sharing your GrandPapa’s Cheesy Catfish Bait, I am going to make some up for a trip that I want to make with my boys later this year.

    I was wondering if you would also share the Blood Ball Bait as well?

    Again Thanks!


    Wild Bill

  12. Blue

    I used some stuff like this that my grandpa made. He got the recipe from a buddy of his at the VFW in Longview, TX. We had to have cleaned out Lake of the Pines one summer, we just kept catching cats – even in the middle of the day!!

  13. My ex husband use to mix white cake mix, corn flakes, and cream corn together. Make stiff roll into balls and that use to get 10 to 15 pound catfish. Enjoy. He always protected that mixer recipe. Lol enjoy all

  14. Glen Eaton

    We used cattails from the pond edge.

  15. Donnie Pittman

    Thank you for sharing your catfish bait. I’ll let you know how it worked for me when I get the chance to use it.

  16. Now keep in mind….this is illegal in most states…..BUT IF THE SHTF!!!
    Take a syringe,like a diabetic uses.Fill it with pure vanilla (not imitation)then inject your night crawlers with it…..even in the hot mid-day blazing sun….they can’t resist!!!!!

    • David

      What if no one knows you’ve injected the worms?
      And I’m wondering, can you inject liver with the vanilla for extra zip?

  17. Julie

    Where do you get beef blood from?

  18. Mr. E

    What size of package is The minced
    Please respond

    • Lauren J

      Lauren J

      1-2 tablespoons of minced garlic should work nicely.

  19. Mr. E

    What size package of minced garlic

  20. steve aronov

    I learned about a great catfish recipe one day on the lake from three dark skinned guys that were killing them,here it is 1.cut 2 inch square mackerel chunks, container of beef or chicken liver pureed, small bottle of anise flavoring(get it from the grocery store) small bottle of red food coloring,mix it all in a bucket and let it sit over night.the first time I used this bait,i caught 16 catfish 9 lbs to 21 lbs,also I had an incidental catch of 11 bass while fishing for cats.have fun.

    • David

      Injecting worms with vanilla is only illegal of get caught.

  21. Mike

    We made ours out of wheaties/blood/ cheese ..It works on just about any fish, catfish, drum, buffalo,carp,bass,crappie.Have fished the back-water of Sulphur River in Arkansas and caught enough to feed an army..

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