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Make a Classic Catfish Bait

How to Make a Classic Catfish Bait

There use to be a time when people fished for catfish out of necessity. They needed food and used whatever means to catch their next meal. Many different types of bait were tried along with many homemade concoctions.

It turns out that one of the simplest and effective baits used to catch catfish is a bar of lye soap. The old timers still swear by it and maybe some of modern anglers think it’s an urban legend. Maybe the only way to verify is to try it out.

The problem with modern day soap being used as catfish bait is that it is ineffective in catching catfish. It may actually be a repellent because it is filled with perfumes, chemicals, and other additives.

You can still find natural lye soap through niche retailers. However, when you make your own soap catfish bait, you are also able to customize the bait by adding additional ingredients to entice the catfish to bite. And making your own catfish bait is more fun and rewarding.

Making catfish soap bait is kind of easy to make. The ingredients needed are water, lye, and animal fat (beef, pork or lard). Lye is also known as sodium hydroxide. It must be noted that lye must be used with caution. Read the label for all warnings and the correct ways of handling.

Lye also reacts with certain metals so that it is highly recommended that the catfish bait soap be mixed in glass or plastic. Lye can be found wherever drain cleaners are sold. The product must be 100% lye – no additives. Liquid drain cleaners are not acceptable.

Material list is as follows:

One can of 100% lye – 12 oz

6 pounds of animal fat or lard

3 cups of water

The lye must be poured into the water. You do not want to pour water onto the lye. While adding the lye into the water, stir to dissolve. Be careful of any fumes and splatters of lye water. Allow the lye water to sit as it adjusts to room temperature.

Melt the animal fat in a glass bowl. Make sure that the bowl is made for stove top cooking or boiling. Once melted, allow to cool to around 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Start mixing the fat with a wooden spoon and slowly pour the lye water into the fat. Don’t stop stirring until mixture begins to thicken. You are looking for a consistency similar to pudding. This mixing process may take up to an hour depending on temperature and purity of ingredients.

You may add additional ingredients, at this point, to help attract catfish. Popular additives include anise extract, garlic salt, garlic powder, gelatin mixes, juice from can of corn.

Pour the mixture into glass bowls, soap molds, or the bottom of cut milk containers. The soap needs at least three to four days to harden.

Secret formulas for catfish baits were developed through trial and error and using lye soap as a base for your personal catfish bait is a good starting point. You are encouraged to experiment by adding additional ingredients to the catfish soap bait. It is very possible that you will hit upon the next legendary catfish bait soap that will win competitions and fill your stringer full of fish.


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