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 ya exactly how it’s done!
What Exactly Is Kool Aid Catfish Bait?
Believe it or not, Kool-Aid combined with various types of meat can be an effective and easy catfish bait. 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. It’s also one of the cheapest baits that there is.
All species of catfish rely on their excellent sense of smell to detect food sources in the water. In fact, catfish whiskers aren’t just for looks, they are ultra-sensitive organs!
Anglers all over the world have tried to ‘entice’ catfish with special bait recipes, scents, and concoctions…and kool-aid (yes, the sugary drink powder-mix) works very well if you’re trying to catch channel catfish, white catfish, or any of the bullhead species of catfish.
How to Make Kool-Aid Bait For Catfish
There are any number of ways you can make this bait, but they all follow a pattern. You are going to need three things to make kool-aid catfish bait:
- 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 (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. All different kind of meats work for this bait; chicken breast, liver, gizzards, and hot dogs all work very well.
The size of the catfish where you are targeting can determine the size of your chunks, but one-inch square chunks is a good general size. A one-inch chunk sits solidly on the hook and won’t fall off easily.
Place your chunk of meat in the bag and add your Kool-Aid 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.
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. Close the bag and shake vigorously. Use your hands to really mix all the meat and powder and juices.
If there is not enough liquid, add a small amount of water. You want the consistency to be thick and juicy- not soaking wet.
Next, let the bag sit and marinate for at least a few hours; 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 whiskers are for!
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 red flavors. Cherry, fruit punch, strawberry, and watermelon are the most popular.
The ingredients are cheap, so it is no problem to experiment with all different types to see if there is any difference.
You may find that the catfish in your area love cherry, but a friend or neighbor may catch them on grape!
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.
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 to not 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.
Homemade kool-aid bait for catfish is incredibly 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 your looking to fill your cooler with catfish, try out some kool-aid!