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!
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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