Catfish & Crappie Conference 2024 – Official Site | The Ultimate Catfishing & Crappie Events in America

Catfish and Crappie Fishing Talk

Comparing Catfish Baits for Different Types of Water Bodies: Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers

Let's go fish:

Comparing Catfish Baits for Different Types of Water Bodies: Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers


Successful catfish fishing requires a deep understanding of the most effective baits and techniques for each type of water body. This comprehensive guide provides valuable insights into the best baits for lakes, ponds, and rivers, ensuring you have the right tools and knowledge to maximize your catch.

Understanding Catfish Behavior

Before diving into the specifics of bait selection, it’s essential to understand catfish behavior in various water bodies. Catfish are opportunistic feeders, preying on a diverse range of food sources, including insects, small fish, and even aquatic plants. Their preference for food can vary based on factors such as water temperature, habitat, and the availability of prey.


In lakes, catfish typically inhabit deeper waters during the day and move to shallower areas at night to feed. They are often found near submerged structures, such as logs and rocks, which provide cover and attract smaller prey species.


Ponds usually have a more uniform environment, with fewer structures and less water movement. As a result, catfish in ponds tend to be less selective in their choice of prey and are more likely to explore various food sources. Remember CPR and keep conservation on top of your mind when considering ponds!


River-dwelling catfish are strongly influenced by currents, using them to locate food and find shelter. They prefer areas with slower currents and structure, such as log jams, deep holes, and undercut banks, where they can ambush prey.

Best Baits for Each Water Body

Now that we have a better understanding of catfish behavior in different water bodies, let’s explore the most effective baits for each environment.


1. Cut Bait: Chunks of cut bait, such as shad or sunfish, are highly effective in lakes. Catfish are attracted to the scent released by the cut bait and the natural oils in the fish. Cut bait works best when targeting larger catfish, such as blue and flathead catfish.

2. Live Bait: Live bait, such as minnows, bluegill, or small shad, can be very effective in lakes. It’s crucial to use a properly sized hook and to keep the bait lively to attract catfish.

3. Prepared Baits: Prepared baits, such as dough baits or dip baits, can be an excellent choice for channel catfish in lakes. These baits release a strong scent that attracts catfish from a distance.


1. Nightcrawlers: Nightcrawlers are a top choice for pond catfishing due to their widespread availability and the natural scent they release. They can be fished on the bottom or suspended below a float to cover various depths.

2. Chicken Liver: Chicken liver is another effective bait for catfish in ponds. Its strong scent and soft texture make it highly attractive to catfish. Keep in mind that chicken liver can be challenging to keep on the hook, so use a bait holder or pantyhose to secure it.

3. Prepared Baits: Similar to lakes, prepared baits work well in ponds, especially for channel catfish. Experiment with various dough and dip baits to find the one that works best for your local catfish population.


1. Live Bait: In rivers, live bait is often the top choice, as it effectively mimics the natural prey of catfish. Consider using baitfish species native to the river system, such as shad, herring, or bluegill, to increase your chances of success.

2. Cut Bait: Cut bait is also effective in rivers, particularly for larger catfish species like blue and flathead catfish. Use fresh, oily fish and experiment with different sizes and cuts to find what works best in your area.

3. Stink Bait: Stink baits, also known as punch baits, are a popular choice for river catfishing. These baits have a potent odor that attracts catfish from a distance, making them particularly effective in faster-moving water.

Tips and Techniques for Each Water Body

Now that you’re familiar with the best baits for lakes, ponds, and rivers, let’s explore some tips and techniques for maximizing your success in each environment.


1. Fish during low-light conditions: Catfish in lakes are more active during early morning, late evening, and nighttime hours. Target these low-light periods to increase your chances of catching catfish.

2. Use electronics: Modern fish finders can help you locate catfish in deeper water and identify prime fishing spots, such as submerged structure and drop-offs.


1. Cover water: In smaller ponds, it’s essential to cover water and explore various areas to locate catfish. Cast your bait in a fan pattern to thoroughly search the pond. Remember CPR and keep conservation on top of your mind when considering ponds!

2. Experiment with depth: Catfish in ponds can be found at various depths, so experiment with fishing your bait near the bottom, mid-depth, or below a float.


1. Fish in current seams: Catfish in rivers often congregate in areas where faster and slower currents meet, known as current seams. Target these areas to locate feeding catfish.

2. Use heavy weights: When fishing in rivers with strong currents, use enough weight to keep your bait stationary and maintain contact with the bottom.


Want to discover and learn more? Check out our information sources:


  1. Hengel, R. (2015) Catfish Baits for Every Fishing Situation. In-Fisherman. Available at: (Accessed: 28 March 2023).

  2. Sutton, K. (2021) The Best Catfish Baits for Lakes, Rivers,Ponds, and Reservoirs. Game & Fish. Available at: (Accessed: 28 March 2023).

    1. Neher, B. (2017) Top 5 Catfish Baits. Outdoor Life. Available at: (Accessed: 28 March 2023).

    2. Holmes, J. (2018) Best Bait for Catfish: A Comprehensive Guide. Catfish Edge. Available at: (Accessed: 28 March 2023).

    3. Samsel, J. (2020) 10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn’t Know About. Field & Stream. Available at: (Accessed: 28 March 2023).

    4. Schoby, M. (2011) Choosing the Right Catfish Bait. North American Whitetail. Available at: (Accessed: 28 March 2023).

    5. USGS (n.d.) Channel Catfish. U.S. Geological Survey. Available at: (Accessed: 28 March 2023).

What Catfish Conference does for you:

Popular fishing Expos

We are the organizer of the legendary Catfish + Crappie Conference events (formally Catfish Conference). Look up our next events and be a part of the fastest growing fishing community in the Nation.

We promote Great Anglers and Fishing destinations

Our success if born from you - anglers, YouTube & Social Media Platform creators always find ways to better themselves while sharing their passion and knowledge with the public in wonderful fishing spots.

Discover the latest Catfish and Crappie fishing gear from the leading companies

Our events would not be what they are without the support of the public, but most importantly the fearlessness and expertise of the many entrepreneurs willing to lead the growth of the sport through designing, manufacturing and selling fishing gear. From rods, reels, tackle, apparel, sinkers, bait netting, boats, electronics, rod holders and other boat accessories, it takes a lot to support our community.

Corporate Services

We are in the business of creating large audiences. With the strength of our founder's know-how (individually and through their ventures), we cumulate decades of experience in marketing, sales, entrepreneurship, finance, and the entertainment industry. We share this expertise with you to grow your events (any kind) and outdoor-related companies.

Join us at Catfish Conference 2024 in Louisville, KY

What people say about Catfish Conference: