Is Shrimp good bait to use for catching catfish?

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shrimp bait

Sometimes when you’re out fishing, the usual bait and methods don’t seem to work.

When this happens, it’s time to change up your strategies, and one of the easiest ways is to change your bait. Is shrimp a good bait to use for catching catfish?

Shrimp isn’t the best bait to use, but you can catch catfish with it. The best way to increase your chances of catching a catfish with shrimp is to make the shrimp extra stinky before casting it into the water. 

Will All Catfish Eat Shrimp?

All catfish might eat shrimp, but unless shrimp are naturally present in the waters you’re fishing in, it might not make very good bait. If you want to catch a channel catfish, then shrimp is a great choice to use as bait. 

For most other bodies of water, catfish will be feeding on bluegill, clams, shad, and vegetation. Choosing any of these as bait would be better than using shrimp. 

river catfish

That’s not to say catfish won’t show any interest in a shrimp, even if they’ve never seen one.

A hungry catfish will try to take a bite out of just about anything, and if you’re presenting them with a shrimp dinner, they might be tempted!

What Type of Shrimp to Use

You can use any shrimp; fresh, frozen and thawed, bought from a grocery store or a bait store, but let’s take a look at the best shrimp to use. 

Fresh, Frozen, or Stinky?

The best shrimp you could use is stinky shrimp. If you have leftover shrimp, take it out of the fridge or freezer, place it in a sealed sandwich bag, and leave it out in the sun for at least a day or two.

Ideally, you should leave your stinky shrimp outside in the sun for 3-5 days. 

Triple check that your sandwich bag, or even container, is 100% sealed. This really nasty-smelling shrimp is going to attract all sorts of pests.

Flies are going to be the absolute worst, and watching what they do to your shrimp will make you never want to eat it again. 

You’ll also have to keep larger pests, like raccoons, away from this foul-smelling bait. Keep it out in the sun during the day, but put it in your garage or shed at night will help.  

The good news though, is if the smell is strong enough to attract a raccoon, that same stench is going to spread farther underwater and attract more catfish! 

Check out the largest catfish ever caught!

Where to Find Shrimp

You can use shrimp from a grocery store, a bait store, or even fish that you’ve caught. 

Our suggestion is to use shrimp from a grocery store. The shrimp from a grocery store is going to be readily available, come in larger quantities for a better price, and the quality of the shrimp is going to be better from anywhere else. 

Shrimp good bait to use for catching catfish

Unless you’re desperate for shrimp, don’t purchase it from a bait store. The shrimp are going to be more expensive, and the quality of the shrimp won’t be all that great. 

Should I Cook The Shrimp First?

You will have better odds using raw fish. The scent of the raw fish is more pungent and will travel farther. If all you have is cooked fish, try it! See how it works in your area. 

Changing things up, or not following the norm isn’t going to ruin your chances at catching a catfish. You might be surprised at your success by using cooked shrimp. 

What’s This I Hear About Kool-aid?

Oh yeaaah, you read that right. Kool-aid. 

Kool-aid is used as a scent booster in the water. By dipping your shrimp in the Kool-aid, and then using the coated shrimp as bait, your shrimp is going to have a unique smell that catfish aren’t used to. This is going to make your bait interesting. 

You can also do the same with garlic powder, or anything else that can stink up the shrimp a little bit more. 

How to Bait the Shrimp

Before you hook the shrimp, you should remove the skin and the tail. Leaving these on is going to hold in more of the stink, and you want the catfish to be able to smell the shrimp. 

Now that your shrimp are ready, there are two methods for hooking them: through the head, and through the broken tail. 

Hook Through the Head

This method is going to be better for bottom fishing. 

For this method, put the hook through just the head, entering on one side and coming out the other. Don’t put the hook down into the body. This is going to make the shrimp look more natural when it’s at the bottom of the water. 

The downside to this method is your shrimp may fall off the hook. There isn’t much holding the shrimp on the hook, and the smallest snag or nibble can take the shrimp off. 

Hook Through The Broken Tail Method

This method is great for catfish who are cruising, and not just sitting stationary. 

Hooking your shrimp up through its split tail, and have the hook come out near the mid-torso. Don’t try to hook the shrimp all the way back up to the head. There’s a lot of shrimp for the hook to hold onto now, so you’re much less likely to lose it. 

Having the head not attached to the hook is also going to add a counterweight that will help with casting farther. 

Final Thoughts

Catching a catfish with shrimp is definitely a possibility.

While it may not be the most effective way to catch a catfish, using shrimp will certainly change your usual strategy, and maybe it’s added an extra bit of fun back into the catch!