Frozen bait for blue catfish

Discussion in 'Blue Catfishing' started by EricM, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. EricM

    EricM Active Member

    Messages:
    361
    State:
    Cleveland TN
    This is just from personal experience, but I have a lot of it, and would like to pass this on. Many members ask the question about fresh vs. frozen baitfish, and are concerned that they are missing out if they use frozen bait.

    I have caught 688 blue catfish on rod and reel in the past 7 months, up to 84 lbs, the vast majority of them on frozen baitfish. I even have a freezer in the garage dedicated to frozen bait. I freeze skipjack herring, threadfin and gizzard shad, redhorse suckers, and of course bluegills. I freeze these fish whole, with the exception that I will trim the tails off of the larger fish so that they will fit in the freezer bag. I personally like to use a vacuum sealer to bag the fish because the bags are stronger and fins won't puncture them, but this is not a requirement - a good zip-lock type of freezer bag will work fine. I try to bag enough fish per bag to last 1/2 to 1 day of fishing.

    I keep the bait frozen in a cooler and saw off only what I need each time I re-bait. A serrated knife or a game shears works best for this. I usually use "steaks" cut across the fish, about 1" to 1-1/2" wide. I bait the hook and use these "popsicles" immediately, letting them thaw in the water where they release the blood and oils. The blue cats don't seem to be bothered by the cold bait and will often hit it immediately. The unused part goes back into the cooler so that it doesn't thaw and dry out.

    Use fresh bait? Absolutely! Is it better than frozen bait? Probably, but the difference that I have found is so small that I have no reason to spend a great deal of time trying to get fresh bait each time I want to fish. I make specific trips to catch bait whenever I feel like it, and normally just take the frozen bait when I go for the blue cats.

    I hope that this eases your mind about using frozen bait for blue catfish. I cannot say how this works for other species of cats because I have limited experience with them, but it sure works on those big blues!

    Good Fishing!
     
  2. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
    I copied this thread out here on the open board, since many of you were responding to it in the library. This way your responses can be seen by Eric too. Thanks.
     

  3. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,170
    State:
    NC
    I have not noticed that much of a difference in the catch rate between frozen and fresh bait. Some baits freeze better than others, such as bream, white perch, and striper, while shad seem to get mushy much faster.

    I have put 549 fish in the boat so far this year, and easily 3/4 of them have come on frozen baits.
     
  4. EricM

    EricM Active Member

    Messages:
    361
    State:
    Cleveland TN
    Thanks Bryan! It's nice to see the comments and ideas that an article generate.
    On a side note, the reason I know how many fish I catch is that I keep a journal. I'd bet WylieCat does, too. It's a bit of a pain in the butt to make daily entries, but a suprisingly good amount of information develops after a while!
     
  5. riddleofsteel

    riddleofsteel New Member

    Messages:
    353
    State:
    NC
    After spending a large amount of time and money on a bait tank, filter, aeration, ect. I have come to the conclusion that a live bait tank is better suited for shiner minnows or bluegills than shad. I am seriously considering taking out my bait tank when fishing with shad bait for cats and just icing down the shad I catch.
    I have recently been conducting some tests on fishing with live caught shad that I ice down in a Ziplock bag ASAP, live shad from a bait tank, and frozen shad.
    So far I can not tell the difference between the frequency of bites on cut or whole fresh iced down bait and cut or whole live bait. As far as frozen bait. I do vacuum seal my bait as fresh as possible. In head to head competition between frozen, iced and live shad I can not prove the difference but the live or fresh iced down bait seems to appeal more to larger fish than frozen. On average sized cats there does not seem to be much difference at all. Maybe the larger/older cats have more experience and more refined palates than the smaller fish.
    I always keep vacuum sealed frozen shad with me when I fish just in case we can not find bait. I also rotate my frozen stock so I will continue to fish a rod with frozen shad on it along side fresh iced down shad or cut live shad and I will report my findings.

    :wink: