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How to Make Fish Bait

You can learn how to make fish bait for targeting both freshwater and saltwater species. Whether you want to use dough balls to catch catfish, or saltwater chum bait that will help attract baitfish for your cast net, making your own homemade fish bait can be fun and rewarding.

How to Choose Bait

Before picking up a few tips on how to make fish bait, it's important to consider the type of fish you want to catch. In other words, the best bait to catch fish will depend on the specific species you are targeting. Different types of fish bait are required for freshwater and saltwater species. Part of the fun of learning how to fish is figuring out which baits work best!

Certain species, such as catfish or carp, will readily take dough baits made from flour and cornmeal mixtures. When targeting saltwater fish, homemade fish bait is generally referred to as "chum." Chum is generally used to attract large schools of baitfish that can easily be caught with a cast net and then used as live bait.

Homemade Fish Bait for Freshwater Fishing

Crappie, bluegill, catfish, and carp will all indulge in homemade dough baits. Use small pea-sized dough baits for panfish, but make larger marble-sized baits for catfish and carp. When you have baits that are the right size for your target species, learning how to catch fish is much easier.

How to Make Fish Bait for Catfish

On many occasions the best bait to catch fish like catfish or carp will be dough baits. Dough baits are quick and easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients. You can try this dough bait recipe or experiment with other ingredients and come up with your own.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
 

 
  1. Mix the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add ¾ cup of water while stirring the mixture thoroughly until it has a doughy consistency.
  3. Form dough into marble or pea-sized dough balls and drop onto a plate or tray.
  4. In a saucepan, add the other ¾ cup water and 1 cup of molasses.
  5. Bring the water and molasses mixture to a boil.
  6. Drop dough balls into the water and molasses mixture and boil for 3 minutes.
  7. Remove dough balls and allow them to cool on a plate or tray.

Bring your homemade fish bait to a nearby pond or lake, put one on your hook, and you will quickly learn how to fish with your own bait.

Homemade Chum for Saltwater Fishing

While homemade chum is much different from dough bait, chum can make it much easier to catch live saltwater baitfish in your cast net. Be sure to check your state fishing regulations before chumming to find out which methods of taking baitfish are permitted.

  • 1 can of sardines in oil or water
  • 1 box of instant mashed potatoes
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of Menhaden oil

Mix the three ingredients in a bucket, adding saltwater if necessary to modify the consistency of the mixture. Sprinkle the chum mixture into an area where you see baitfish.