Using Kool-Aid as catfish bait can be one of the best, simplest, and cheapest ways to catch your limit of catfish.
In this article, I’ll tell you exactly how it’s done!
Table of Contents
What Is Kool-Aid Catfish Bait?
Believe it or not, combining Kool-Aid powder mix with various types of meat, produces an incredibly easy and effective catfish bait. Not only is it one of the cheapest catfish baits there is, it’s a lot simpler to store and transport than live bait and it doesn’t have the smell or mess of blood baits or stink baits!
Anglers all over the world have tried to ‘entice’ catfish with unique bait recipes, scents, and concoctions…and kool-aid (yes, the drink powder-mix) works very well if you’re trying to catch channel catfish, white catfish, or any of the bullhead species of catfish.
Why Do Catfish Like Kool-Aid?
So, you’re probably wondering why the heck do catfish like Kool-Aid?
Well, that is a great question, and to answer it, we need to understand the highly developed and incredible sensory abilities of catfish.
Catfish have some of the most finely tuned senses of any fish species. They rely on their almost supernatural senses of taste and smell to detect substances, food, and predators in the water.
Catfish have been given the monicker “swimming tongues.” This is because catfish taste with more than just their mouths. In fact, every square inch of their body is covered extensively with taste buds that help them detect even the tracest amount of substances in the water.
Catfish have up to 20,000 internal taste buds and more than 100,000 external tastebuds! This abundance of taste buds allows them to taste your bait, without actually ever biting it at a distance of up to 15 feet! Insane!
Their sense of smell is equally impressive. Catfish have highly sensitive folded membranes in their nasal cavity, that allow them to detect minute substances in the water. The more folds a fish has within these membranes, the sharper its sense of smell.
For comparison, largemouth bass have about 10 of these folds…channel catfish have 140! These folded membranes are so sensitive, that catfish are able to detect numerous amino acids at concentrations of one part per 100 million!
Now back to the question, why do catfish like Kool-aid? As outlined above, catfish have an incredible sense of taste and smell and rely on these senses to feed. They are attracted to sweet, pungent, or aromatic smells. If it smells, a catfish will eat it.
Kool-aid will dissolve when mixed with water, providing a strong scent that is capable of covering long distances. The scent, taste, and bright colors of this bait will be irresistible to a catfish. If it smells, a catfish will eat it. This is the same reason many other stink baits like worms and garlic are successful catfish baits!
How to Make Kool-Aid Bait For Catfish
There are SO many ways you can make this bait. There really is no wrong way so you can get creative with your base baits. Below is my favorite recipe.
You only need three things to make kool-aid catfish bait. You may already have more of these items at home.
- A plastic ziplock-style bag
- Your meat of choice (Hot dogs are my favorite, but you can also use chicken gizzards or liver, etc)
- A few packets of Kool-Aid powder. I recommend two packets of Kool-Aid per 3 hotdogs. Cherry, Tropical Punch, and Grape rank at the top of the list for flavors. (If you can’t get Kool-Aid for some reason, powdered jello mix works just as well)
The first thing you need to do is take your meat and cut it up into bait-sized chunks.
The size of the catfish where you are targeting can determine the size of your chunks, but one-inch square chunks are a good general size. A one-inch chunk sits solidly on the hook and won’t fall off easily.
All different kinds of base meats will work for this bait; chicken breast, liver, gizzards, spam, and hot dogs all work very well. Place your chunks of meat in the bag and be sure to add any juice/broth/blood or water that is in the meat as well.
You know that water brine that hotdogs come in? Add it in! Same with any juices from gizzards, liver, shrimp, or anything else you’re going to use. That juicy liquid is very flavorful and will mix with the kool-aid powder.
Once you have added your meats and juices, it’s time to add your Kool-Aid packet(s). People use different ratios of Kool-Aid to meat, but you really can’t use too much; 2 packets per 1 lb of meat is a safe ratio.
If there is not enough liquid, add a small amount of water to the mixture, you want the consistency to be thick and juicy- not soaking wet.
Close the bag and shake vigorously. Use your hands to really mix all the meat and powder and juices.
Next, let the bag sit and marinate for at least a few hours before using it as bait; letting it sit in the fridge for several days is even better. You can also let the bags sit out in the sun and marinate in the heat of the day for a different effect (this will make it smell more but don’t do it too long).
The Kool-Aid will soak into the chunks and some of the liquid will come out of the meat to form a marinade that helps the flavor soak into the meat. This makes the flavor and sweet smell permeate the chunk and means the bait will keep its flavor and smell for a long time in the water.
Remember, catfish rely on their sense of smell to locate food sources in the water column. That’s what those tastebuds, whiskers, and nasal folds are for!
See Also: What Is The Best Time Of Day To Catch Catfish?
Best Kool-Aid Flavor for Catfish Bait
It appears to be pretty irrelevant what flavor of Kool-Aid you use to make your bait, although a few people do swear by the grape and most of the red flavors. Cherry, fruit punch, strawberry, and watermelon are the most popular. It is important however to ensure the Kool-Aid is unsweetened!
The ingredients for this are incredibly cheap, and if you do it right, you can make a Kool-Aid and Hot Dog Catfish bait for about 3 bucks. That’s hard to beat.
Since the ingredients are so cheap, it is encouraged to experiment with all the different flavors and combos to see what works best for you and your area.
You may find that the catfish in your area love cherry, but a friend or neighbor may catch them on grape!
Other Catfish Bait Tips
People sometimes combine other ingredients with the sweetness of the Kool-Aid.
If you use liver, you will get the bloody smell of the liver along with the sweetness of the Kool-Aid. Gizzards will give you a different effect than chicken breast, etc.
Another popular recipe is to add several tablespoons of garlic powder or minced garlic to the bag before you shake it up with the Kool-Aid. People have also used vanilla extract, anise oil, shrimp flakes, and menhaden oil as an additive with good success.
Again, experiment and have fun!
It is important that you use a sturdy bag (or Tupperware container) and make sure it closes properly. While this is not as nearly as messy or stinky as a lot of catfish baits, Kool-Aid can still stain, so you want to keep it sealed up.
You may also want to consider some kind of hand protection if you don’t want to show up in public the next day with colorful hands. Cheap rubber gloves work fine.
Hot dogs are one of the most popular meats for Kool-Aid bait, but they are slightly harder to keep on the hook than other meats. The good thing about hot dogs is that you can find them just about anywhere, from the gas station to big grocery stores.
If you are using hot dogs, it is better not to cut your chunks much larger than one inch, because larger hot dog chunks are more likely to break off your hook. Consider using a circle hook- it will hold the hot dog much better than traditional J-hooks.
See Also: Using Soap To Catch Catfish…Yes, It Works!
Homemade kool-aid bait for catfish is incredibly effective and inexpensive. For instance, if you are using hot dogs, you can get a pack of generic hot dogs for anywhere between $1-$2. Kool-Aid packets are less than a dollar. Liver, chicken breast, and gizzards are all inexpensive meats.
Because this is such an inexpensive bait, you can afford to experiment with all kinds of different combinations to see what works.
Some fishermen even mix Kool-Aid powder in with their dough balls, stink baits, or blood baits! The possibilities are endless.
The next time you’re looking to fill your cooler with catfish, definitely try out some kool-aid!
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Hot dogs soaked in a mix of cherry Kool-Aid and garlic powder have proven to be an effective catfish bait.How do you use kool-aid to catch catfish? ›
Put the chunks in a one-gallon zip-seal bag. Add enough water to barely cover them. Now shake in one full packet of powered cherry Kool-Aid (or the dollar store equivalent) and finish with two tablespoons of garlic powder. Marinating overnight is good, but not necessary.What is the best bait for stocked channel catfish? ›
Nightcrawlers work great for catfish. Since catfish have a great sense of smell, though, using a bait that has a stronger smell can help draw catfish in. Stink baits and cheese baits are among the baits catfish anglers often use. Raw shrimp is one of Penne's personal favorites.What color bait do catfish like? ›
After researching how colors are seen underwater, it makes sense that blue would be the preferred color and they would react to that the most. Blue is the last color in the color spectrum to disappear under water. Blue is also a color found on many of the baitfish that channel catfish feed on like herring and shad.What is the best thing to soak catfish in? ›
Soaking the catfish in buttermilk helps to eliminate most of the weird flavors that catfish may have. Wild caught catfish, and sometimes farm raised, tend to have a some what muddy flavor to them. What is this? Therefore, soaking the fish in buttermilk before frying it is highly recommended.What does soaking catfish in milk do? ›
Simply soak the catfish in milk for an hour before frying to eliminate any leftover fishy taste. The cornmeal crust creates a perfect light and crispy texture. Jack says the catfish are done when "most of the bubbling stops and the fillets begin to float."What does soda do to catfish? ›
Diluting the oxygen concentration in water by adding carbon dioxide from soda makes extracting oxygen much more difficult, which can cause a fish to panic and try to escape.What month do catfish bite the best? ›
Late March, April, and early May are some of the best blue catfish fishing of the year for numbers of fish and also offers excellent opportunities for trophy class catfish as well. Channel catfish action is typically excellent and very consistent also.What time of day do catfish bite best? ›
Traditionally, night is considered one of the best times to fish for catfish. These effective predators are equipped for low light surroundings with bait detecting barbels or “whiskers” and large vacuum-like mouths to compensate for their relatively small eyes.What is the fastest way to catch a catfish? ›
The egg sinker slip rig is, hands down, the most popular rig for still fishing catfish. Consisting of an egg sinker on the main line held in place above the hook by a lead shot, this rig is ideal for keeping the bait near the bottom, which in turn, allows a catfish to swim off with the bait with little tension.
Catfish bite year-round, but winter catfishing requires a few more strategies. Why? When water temperatures dip below 50 degrees, the fish slow down and become less aggressive hunting for food. So, winter cats require a bit more work for the bite.Do channel catfish prefer live or cut bait? ›
Cut bait is a very popular catfish bait and is widely considered to be one of the best catfish baits available for blue catfish and larger channel catfish. Cut bait is rarely used for flathead catfish as flatheads most often prefer live bait (there are some exceptions though).How do you target big channel catfish? ›
Put a big bait under a big float set to mid-depth, and let the wind and current slow-troll it for you. Be patient. You're not going to catch a lot of fish using big baits, but by using the wind and a float to move that bloody bait around, eventually the biggest cat in the neighborhood will find it."What is catfish favorite bait? ›
Anglers across the nation know that chicken livers are traditionally the best way to catch catfish. Chicken liver is especially good when you're fishing in deeper waters. Livers remain fresh for 15 to 20 minutes before losing some of their appealing scents, so rebait your rigs frequently.Do catfish like raw hot dogs? ›
Many catfish anglers have used them for decades. On the other hand, most catfish anglers seem to discover hot dogs out of desperation, after running out of traditional fishing baits such as worms and cut baits. Hot dogs are a common food taken along on fishing excursions and double as excellent catfish bait.What soap attracts catfish? ›
Perhaps the strangest of those choices is soap. Yes, Ivory bar soap will catch a catfish. Catfish love the smell of lye and will go after it just as well as any other stink bait. Anglers take the bar and cut it into small squares and cast it into a current so the smell will disperse and attract catfish.Should catfish bait sit on the bottom? ›
In some situations, you want the bait anchored in place, but off the bottom. Live baits that are kept up and swimming attract more fish than baits that cower under cover. And deadbaits suspended above bottom debris are easier for fish to locate.What do catfish like to hide in? ›
Catfish have numerous external taste buds, many of which are located on the barbels. They can taste something by simply touching it with their barbels. During the day, catfish hide around submerged rocks and logs, but at night they seek open water to find food.Are catfish attracted to blood? ›
For example, lysine, an amino acid supplement, is used in making catfish feeds. Blood contains these molecules, so some include beef blood in the bait mixture. Beef blood is high in valine, leucine, and lysine, all of which attract even big flathead catfish.Can catfish see in color? ›
Yes. Cones in the eyes indicate catfish have color vision, and this is borne out by the experiments of some anglers.
This really helps give the fish fish fillets a tiny bit of extra flavor and zest. It also helps firm them up. Its a culinary school method used by many chefs. Try it!What can I soak catfish in if I don't have buttermilk? ›
Soaking your catfish.
Don't have buttermilk? You can make your own with milk + lemon juice!
Boiled chicken egg yolk gives catfish fry a good start - Hatchery International.How long can you leave fish in milk? ›
To try this trick in your home kitchen, follow Cook's Illustrated's advice: before cooking, let your fish spend about 20 minutes sitting in milk to absorb any unwanted odors. Then, simply drain the fish and pat it dry. You'll be left with fish that has a clean, sweet flavor and none of the fishy edge.What does soaking fish in vinegar do? ›
By giving a fillet a vinegar rinse (or even a full-on soak while you prepare the rest of your meal's components), you can bring out all of the fish's best qualities and textures, neutralizing any fishy scents while seasoning it.Does alcohol attract catfish? ›
Booze. Certain strong smells like smoke, perfume and other human smells can drive away catfish. But some alcohol can serve as just the right additive to attract them.What does Coke do to fish? ›
Carbon dioxide causes the blood vessels in the gills to constrict. Some things causes vasodilatation, some cause vasoconstriction. So the carbonation in pop causes the gills to vasoconstrict and stop bleeding.What causes crackhead in catfish? ›
Crack head disease in catfish is caused by the inadequacy of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and vitamin C in feeds or the inability of the fish to properly utilize them.Does WD 40 work for catfish bait? ›
Many die-hard catfish bait makers have their own special recipes they swear catch big whisker fish. Here's one that includes WD-40 as one of the main ingredients.Is a bar of soap good for catfish bait? ›
Perhaps the strangest of those choices is soap. Yes, Ivory bar soap will catch a catfish. Catfish love the smell of lye and will go after it just as well as any other stink bait. Anglers take the bar and cut it into small squares and cast it into a current so the smell will disperse and attract catfish.
Marshmallows. Although catfish are known for going after stinky things, apparently they also have a sweet tooth. Marshmallows float, and are porous enough to absorb other scents – which is why some anglers use them with great success as catfish baits.Where do catfish go when the water is hot? ›
Catfish & Hot Weather
During the day in summer, catfish will rest down deep in water that is cooler and contains structure such as logs and fallen trees. Down here, they will be feeding on shad and bluegill that are hiding among the logs.
If you fish for carp or catfish often, you've probably run across numerous ways of making bait balls. No need to use a complicated recipe. Simply mix peanut butter with cornmeal or pieces of sliced bread. Shape into balls to fit your fishing hook.
The baking soda solution
Fast, effective, and least wasteful. I rinse the fish several times then wipe it as well as I can. I rub the skin and head generously with baking soda then leave the catfish in a covered bowl to allow the baking soda time to draw out the slimy substance that covers the body of the fish.
For catfish scents, the smellier the better. Ingredients like chicken liver, gutted fish, Limburger cheese and rotting shrimp are examples of things that can be combined together. The best stink bait is left to marinade for a few days and “ripen” so that the blend of scents is irresistible to the catfish.What color attracts catfish? ›
Catfish are bottom feeders and are attracted to food by both sight and smell. They like bright colors such as orange or red. One of the best lures are Cheetos puffs. The bright orange color attracts their attention and the cheesy corn smell encourages them to bite.Do catfish like Irish Spring soap? ›
And not just Ivory works. Mike and Jacinda Kachner have had great luck with Irish Spring. They said it worked just about as well as grasshoppers for catfish. It slowly dissolves and the scent can travel and attract from great distances.