Bluegills for Catfish Bait

Discussion in 'Catfishing Library' started by Whistler, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Original post made by Darrel Miller(Cornhusker) on September 9, 2002

    Common baits for flathead catfish are fresh live bluegill (includes all of the sunfish family) and small to medium bullhead catfish. We are required by regulations to catch these fish on rod and reel. Netting, trapping and so on are illegal. Since these are bait for a bigger trip, gathering of these bait fish needs to be done with the least amount of time and effort possible. It gets frustrating when many of the bait fish are deep hooked and die before they can be used. Bluegill and especially bullheads are amongst some of the worst for swallowing the hook.

    I read about the use of circle hooks for bluegill and how almost all of the fish caught were lip hooked. Not being able to find small circle hooks locally, I ordered some size 6 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle and size 4 Eagle Claw Nickel Teflon thin wire Circle hooks. Surprisingly I can see almost no difference in the size of the loop only in the amount of bend at the point. The Eagle Claw point comes farther in toward the shank. Where I would normally use a size 6 or 8 Aberdeen style hook I don’t think I would be able to get the worm on a circle hook much smaller than the ones ordered. The Eagle Claw has a bit more of a barb at the point than the Gamakatsu which holds the bait better, less need for re-baiting. Gamakatsu is sharper and opened a bit more allowing easier baiting.

    Some hits were missed with both hooks. The number of misses were low and my guess is very small fish. I have caught bluegill down to about 3 ½”. My son and I paid very close attention to how we did on deep hooked versus lip hooked fish and it was amazing to see the difference. Less than 1% of the bluegill were deep hooked. He did about as well on the bullhead, but I still am not fast enough and did deep hook some. Much fewer than normal. These hooks also seemed less prone to snagging in the underwater brush. Probably because the point is bent inward and protected. These hooks would be great for the kids and grandkids because they can go with their natural tendency to reel the fish in without setting the hook and they can be as slow as they want picking up and getting the bluegill. Bullheads will still get deep hooked if you’re too slow. REMEMBER THAT YOU DO NOT “SET” THE HOOK WITH CIRCLE HOOKS, JUST LIFT THE ROD SLIGHTLY AND REEL IN.

    As we fish we throw the bait fish into a 5 gallon bucket about 1/3 to ½ full of water.


    As you can see in the picture the plain old hardware store plastic bucket has a minnow bucket style lid (available at tackle shops) that snaps on over the lip of the bucket. The lid comes with a loop to hang a battery powered air bubbler (available at tackle shops) on the side with a hole for the bubbler hose to enter the bucket. Even in hot weather we have kept as many as 100 bluegill alive for a couple hours until we made it home and they went into our live bait tank. This bucket arrangement has served our needs very well. The air bubbler is battery powered with 2 “D” cell batteries which will last probably 30 to 40 hours. With fewer fish in the bucket, such as when we go fishing, they seem to get too much oxygen and go crazy. They will start jumping out of the bucket. We normally only run the bubbler part of the time.

    MERUSS New Member

    If you spray your bucket with expansion foam {available at any home inprovment store} it will be insulated and hold bait longer. Also the insulation can be patched or replaced any time with just another shot of spray.

  3. scorpio420

    scorpio420 New Member

    make sure you have a icebox full of ice with you also. if you bubbler stops you can drop ice cubes in the bucket and this will create oxygen also.
  4. rushing

    rushing New Member

    There are also additives you can add to the water to help keep the fish in good shape. Sunfish arent legal bait here in MN but I use this stuff called Bait Medic and it makes my bullheads act like they are turbo charged.
  5. drews0311

    drews0311 New Member

    another great post!!!

    Back home we would us a cattle troff. or any aluminum animal feed or water tank to keep the fish in our basement. Just put the tank in your basement and fill it with well water if you can or water from the lake or river. Then you can use a airrator from a house hold fish tank and run it off of your power in your house. This works great for those days that you are catching the crap out of the bait, you can stock up for those day that you cant catch bait as easy. we had bull heads that lived in our tank all winter just by feeding them every few days with some fish pellets.

    Also as far as the hook goes, we would take just a normal bait sized hook but bend the barb in with a pair of pliers. you may miss a few more fish but you don’t damage the bait. if you happen to deep hook the bait its easier to get the hook out with the