This method of catfish fishing is one of those ways of the old school that sometimes gets forgotten about in the modern age. But it’s such an effective method of baiting, it needs to be brought back to the foreground.
Your granddaddy definitely knew what he was doing when he was out chumming the bayous!
Chumming for catfish goes back so far that even the Native Americans used to use it to increase their catches. They would flush out grasshoppers towards streams where the fish would feast on them. They would then bait their hooks with grasshoppers and catch the fish who already had that sweet grasshopper flavor on their lips.
Another chumming method used by Native Americans was to hang dead animals off a branch above the river. Flies would be attracted to the carcass and would lay their eggs in the flesh. A few weeks later the eggs would hatch and the maggots would fall into the creek attracting schools of fish to the area that could then be caught.
Luckily there are some easier ways to go about chumming for catfish these days, so let’s see how you can get your chum on on your next fishing trip.
What is Chumming?
Chumming is all about priming a fishing area so that you are more likely to catch fish from that spot. When chumming, you spread bait in the water to attract fish to the area before you start casting. Typical chum baits used are fermented grains, stink baits, dog food, chicken feed or range cubes.
PRO TIP: Chumming is when you drop bait in the water to attract fish to the area by smell
Basically any food or bait can be used when chumming and the smellier the better! You want the scent to really draw in all the fish in the area so they are ready for when you drop your line right on top of them.
But be careful, you don’t want the catfish to have full bellies before you get a chance to cast your bait with a hook in it!
When chumming you typically want to keep the bait inside something so that the fish can’t eat all the chum bait and get full. A tin can with holes in it is the traditional method, but any kind of sealed container will work. You can even wrap your chum in a cheese cloth or piece of hessian.
The idea is that the scent of your chum will leak out into the water attracting all the fish in the area and getting them stimulated for a big meal.
It is just like when you can smell someone grilling or smoking meat nearby. You want to get a piece of that meat, right?
Well so do the fish when they smell your chum.
That is what chumming is about. Bringing fish to your area with strongly scented bait, and then catching them once they have already got a hunger going from your chum.
What is the Best Chum Bait for Catfish?
There are a few different baits I like to use when chumming for catfish, but I have found the best chum bait for catfish to be soured grains. These stinky grains really stimulate catfish activity whenever I throw them in the water.
Sour Grain Chum
This is how to make sour grain chum for catfish:
- Combine grain such as maize, wheat, corn, milo, sorghu with liquid in a container
- Let the mix soak overnight
- Tip your mix into a trash bag, tie it up, and sit it somewhere warm (and somewhere away from your house!)
- Wait for it to sour, up to a month is about right!
You will know when it’s ready because you will be able to smell the sour grains. And so will your wife. So be careful where you sit the trash bag to sour if you want to keep in her good books.
You can then scoop your soured grain mixture into a container to take with you to your fishing hole to chum with.
If you go catfishing often and are making a big batch I’ve found a mix of half barley, half wheat works very well when you throw in some dried yeast on top. Give it a try and see how you go.
Range Cubes Chum
If you don’t want to mess around with soured grains, then the next best chum bait for catfish are range cubes. Range cubes are used as cattle feed and you can pick them up from your local feed store. Ask for 20% protein range cubes at the feed store (they will know what you are looking for).
Range cubes are a good option if you are going out on your boat with friends and family and don’t want to have the strong smell of soured grains in the air, but still want to show off your catfishing skills. If you have a weak stomach range cubes are also a good alternative to sour mixes.
Here’s my own personal tip of chumming with range cubes, pour some oil on them when adding the cubes to your container or cloth. Any cooking oil will do such as vegetable oil, canola oil etc. The oil really helps spread the smell of the range cubes out into the water and attract the catfish to your area.
Dog Food Chum
This is by far the easiest catfish chum to get your hands on as it doesn’t require any preparation work or a visit to the feed store. If you are in a hurry, I suggest you pickup a couple of cans of dog food at the store on your way to the boat ramp or fishing lake. Here is what you do with the canned dog food to make it into chum:
- Buy a can of dog food
- Grab a nail and a hammer (or anything sharp)
- Bang a few small holes into the can
- Drop the can into the water where you will be fishing
Dog food has a very strong smell to it and it works pretty well as catfish chum. The small holes in the can allow the scent of the dog food to leak out into the water, while keeping the dog food itself inside the can.
The longer you can leave the can in the water before your start fishing the more catfish you will bring into the area, so get it in there as soon as you arrive!
Does Chumming for Catfish Work?
Chumming for catfish is absolutely one of the best ways to increase the number of catfish that you catch. The scent of that stinking bait really gets the catfish excited. It gets their stomachs growling. It brings them into the area ready to eat, but then they don’t find any food!
Well they don’t until you cast our line in anyway.
Once they see the bait on the end of your hook these catfish with hungry bellies won’t be able to resist and will latch onto your bait quick smart. Chumming for catfish is very effective.
Chumming for Catfish from the Bank
You don’t have to be on a boat to chum, chumming for catfish from the bank works just as well. You want to get your chum container out into the area where you will be casting. If you are using soured grains when fishing from the bank, you will want to tie a rope onto your container or piece of cloth. The rope will let you throw your container out into the water which you can then tie off to a tree or pole nearby. Then you can pull your chum container back in when you are done.
Alternatively if you are using dog good as chum, you can just lob that dog food can out into the area where you want to be casting. Although I don’t recommend this method because your can will stay in the water, I can see that plenty of people do it this way when bank fishing.
The Last Cast
The ways of the old school should not be forgotten and it is our responsibility to continue with them, passing knowledge down from generation to generation. One of the most effective ways to bring fish into the area you are going to fish is by chumming, and its hard to beat soured grains as the strongest lure when chumming for catfish.
So mix up a batch of grain, water it down and sit it out in the sun to start the fermentation process.
Your wife won’t love you for it, but the catfish will!