15 Hilariously Effective Baits Used by Fishermen

istock
istock

Put down your spades—when it comes to finding fishing bait, you don’t need to dig in your backyard for worms. You can plunder your pantry instead. From sweets to garbage, veteran fishermen swear these 15 out-there baits get results.

1. Soap

Believe it or not, chunks of soap are considered “traditional” bait for reeling in catfish, and fishermen have been using them for centuries. Brands of “pure” soap, with no added scents or chemicals, work best, as do homemade lye soaps.

2. Canned Meat

Everyone’s favorite World War II-era canned meats not only taste delicious with pineapple (just ask Hawaiians), but make an excellent catfish bait. In 2001, an Arkansas fisherman set the record for the largest catfish ever caught by rod and reel (at the time) by snagging a 116-pound, 12-ounce blue catfish with the stuff. The man claimed he didn’t realize his bait was unusual—it’s what his father and grandfather had used all their lives.

3. Dog Food

Fido’s chow of choice is also popular with fish. Anglers debate whether wet or dry is the way to go, but many agree that dog food (sometimes wrapped in cheesecloth or mixed with corn starch, water, and flour to create a doughy consistency) is great for catching carp, catfish, and certain species of panfish.

4. Chicken Liver

Not only a staple on trendy farm-to-table menus (in mousse form, served with dainty crostini), chicken liver is also at home in a tackle box. Thanks largely to their smell, livers are alluring to catfish as well as hybrid and freshwater striped bass.

5. Raisins

Fruit baits, such as persimmons and mulberries, are great for catching fish. Carp especially are known to congregate in water near low-hanging mulberry bushes, waiting for the fruit to fall. One expert fisherman from Alabama swears by golden raisins as bait. Particularly during the summer months, he says, the raisins swell on the hooks and begin to ferment. The smell and the bright color make them irresistible to catfish, especially when fishing at night.

6. Chewing Gum

Preferably of the bubble variety. The key, anglers swear, is chewing the gum for a few minutes before sticking it to the hook. But don’t chew for too long! Fish, especially catfish and trout, are drawn to the gum’s sweet flavor.

7. Candy

Fish seem to have a weakness for sweets. Fishermen have reported success with nearly everything found in the candy aisle, from chocolate bars to gummy fish (the latter helped one fisherman land a non-gummy 4-foot sand shark).

Sour worms are known to be particularly appealing to fish because of their bright colors and shape (which, of course, mimics that of a real nightcrawler).

8. Mini Marshmallows

Miniature marshmallows, the kind you add to your hot cocoa, are tried and true baits for catching trout, particularly stocked rainbow trout. Bluegill and some species of sunfish are also reported to have a taste for the confection.

9. Hot Dogs

Anglers who run out of worms have been known to turn to frankfurters in their time of need. Similar in shape to surface plug lures, ripped up bits of hot dogs attract bluegills brilliantly. A fishing guide from South Carolina claims that chicken or turkey hot dogs, as opposed to ones made from all beef, are most enticing to catfish.

10. Doughnuts

One inventive fisherman hooked a sizable carp in North Carolina’s Lake Norman using a pumpkin-flavored doughnut as bait.

11. Bacon

Another breakfast favorite popular with the fishes is bacon. While one successful Massachusetts catfisher claims hickory smoked is the only way to go, most anglers agree that the raw stuff gets the best results. Not only is the meat’s pungent smell attractive to fish, but the bacon fat is full of oils known to attract varieties such as bluegills, crappies, and catfish.

12. Cheese

Be it sharp (like cheddar), stinky (like Limburger), or processed, cheese (broken up into small pieces or balls) has a great track record of landing trout and catfish.

13. Cigarette Butts

One man’s trash is another man’s—or fish’s, as the case may be—lunch. Some anglers claim to have had great success fishing with the cigarette butts they’ve picked up off the bank, saying they’ve used them to hook as many as 100 fish in a single afternoon.

14. Peanut Butter Sandwiches

When you pack your lunch for a day on the lake, be sure to make an extra sandwich for your fishy friends. Experienced anglers say that peanut butter sandwiches, made with stale bread and sometimes gussied up with birdseed or garlic, are great for catching codfish, catfish, carp, and bluegill.

15. Corn

Canned corn particularly is known to be a great bait for reeling in trout, carp, bluegill, and perch. Some fishermen recommend throwing a handful of whole kernels into an area where fish are spawning before lowering their hook—laden with three or four kernels—into the water to incite a “carp attack.” Rainbow trout raised in hatcheries are especially susceptible to corn bait.

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

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Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

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Instant Pot/Amazon

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Roomba/Amazon

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Sony

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Microsoft/Amazon

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Apple/Amazon

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7 Overlooked Thanksgiving Rituals, According to Sociologists

Even what the dog eats takes on a special significance on Thanksgiving.
Even what the dog eats takes on a special significance on Thanksgiving.
JasonOndreicka/iStock

The carving of the turkey, the saying of the grace, the watching of the football. If a Martian anthropology student asked us to name some cultural rites of Thanksgiving, those would be the first few to come to mind. But students of anthropology know that a society is not always the best judge of its own customs.

The first major sociological study of Thanksgiving appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research in 1991. The authors, Melanie Wallendorf and Eric J. Arnould, conducted in-depth interviews with people about their experiences of the holiday. They also had 100 students take detailed field notes on their Thanksgiving celebrations, supplemented by photographs. The data analysis revealed some common events in the field notes that people rarely remarked on in the interviews. Here are some common Thanksgiving rituals you might not realize qualify as such.

1. Giving Job Advice

Teenagers are given a ritual status shift to the adult part of the family, not only through the move from the kids' table to the grownup table, but also through the career counseling spontaneously offered by aunts, uncles, and anyone else with wisdom to share.

2. Forgetting an Ingredient

Oh no! Someone forgot to put the evaporated milk in the pumpkin pie! As the authors of the Thanksgiving study state, "since there is no written liturgy to insure exact replication each year, sometimes things are forgotten." In the ritual pattern, the forgetting is followed by lamentation, reassurance, acceptance, and the restoration of comfortable stability. It reinforces the themes of abundance (we've got plenty even if not everything works out) and family togetherness (we can overcome obstacles).

3. Telling Disaster Stories of Thanksgivings Past

One day she'll laugh about this.cookelma/iStock

Remember that time we fried a turkey and burned the house down? Another way to reinforce the theme of family togetherness is to retell the stories of things that have gone wrong at Thanksgiving and then laugh about them. This ritual can turn ugly, however, if not everyone has gotten to the point where they find the disaster stories funny.

4. The Reappropriation of Store-Bought Items

Transfer a store-bought pie crust to a bigger pan, filling out the extra space with pieces of another store-bought pie crust, and it's not quite so pre-manufactured anymore. Put pineapple chunks in the Jello, and it becomes something done "our way." The theme of the importance of the "homemade" emerges in the ritual of slightly changing the convenience foods to make them less convenient.

5. The Pet’s Meal

The pet is fed special food while everyone looks on and takes photos. This ritual enacts the theme of inclusion also involved in the inviting of those with "nowhere else to go."

6. Putting Away the Leftovers

These leftovers will make delicious soup.smartstock/iStock

In some cultures, feasts are followed by a ritual destruction of the surplus. At Thanksgiving, the Puritan value of frugality is embodied in the wrapping and packing up of all the leftovers. Even in households in which cooking from scratch is rare, the turkey carcass may be saved for soup. No such concern for waste is exhibited toward the packaging, which does not come from "a labor of love" and is simply thrown away.

7. Taking a Walk

After the eating and the groaning and the belly patting, someone will suggest a walk and a group will form to take a stroll. Sometimes the walkers will simply do laps around the house, but they often head out into the world to get some air. There is usually no destination involved, just a desire to move and feel the satisfied quietness of abundance—and to make some room for dessert.