Mullet for Catfish Bait - Yes or NO?

Mullet for Catfish Bait

If you are a catfish angler, you must know that these fish are not very picky eaters. However, you still have to choose and prepare your bait in the right way.

Catfish find food by relying on their sense of smell and taste more than sight, and that makes your bait selection quite versatile. One of your options is using mullet for catfish bait.

But does it really work? The answer is YES! Mullets are excellent baits for catfish because they contain a high percentage of oil and spread strong odor that attracts catfish even from a distance. It is also quite durable on a hook which makes it great for currents.

Best of all, mullets are simple to catch and widely available for purchase too, so you will easily get your hands onto this bait.

The whole setup with such simple catfish bait is also great for complete beginners who don’t want to use complicated bait or prepare DIY versions.

Here you can find out everything you need to know about catching catfish with mullets!



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Is Mullet Good for Catfish Bait?

As already mentioned, mullets can be great, but only if you know when and where to use them. Oily skin of a mullet is great for spreading the odor of a tasty meal.

Meat of a mullet is very strong, so it doesn’t matter if you are using them cut or whole, it will stay on a hook well.

Almost any fish, or a fresh piece of it, is actually natural food for catfish, so by presenting mullets, you are basically offering them their usual lunch which is a great fishing approach.

This bait can also be chopped up and used for chumming to get your local catfish interested. Of course, you can use mullets only for this, or add them to other chumming mixes.

Even frozen and defrosted mullets can work wonders with catfish, which means that you won’t have any problems with storing and transporting them.

Some anglers say that this bait doesn’t release as much blood as some other baitfish, however blood gets washed away quite fast while oils from mullets last longer, which actually makes it even more effective.

Is it Legal or Illegal to Fish for Catfish With Mullet?

This question depends on many factors, but in the majority of situations, you can legally use mullets as bait.

Firstly, you must check if live bait is allowed in the location you plan to fish at. If the answer is NO, you can only use cut mullets.

Some fishing venues are very strict and may have a long list of prohibited baits so check if the mullet is on the list.

As an angler, you are responsible for checking all local rules and regulations, as well as for following all guidelines for allowed equipment, techniques, and limits.

In most states in the USA, and in many countries around the world, using mullets for catfish is perfectly legal.

Make sure (when buying fishing license) to check additional rules about hooks and other equipment so that you can create a setup that wont result in paying a fine.

Mullet for Catfish Bait - Legal

How to Use / Hook / Cut Mullet as Catfish Bait?

Using mullet for catfish bait is a fairly simple process. Channel, blue, and bullhead catfish will bite on cut bait easily, while flatheads prefer live mullets.

This bait can be used in a few different ways:


Using live bait is one of the most effective ways of fishing. There is nothing more natural than presenting injured fish to a hungry catfish. This way can land you even big specimens whose diet consists mostly of prey fish.

There are many ways of hooking a mullet, and the best one for beginners is through the upper jaw. Push the hook in its mouth and pierce it upwards to get the point out below and between eyes.


Dead but whole mullets are great for a bit bigger catfish too. Remember, catfish cant bite and the only way for it to east the prey is to swallow it whole. This means that it must fit into catfish mouth so choose a mullet size in accordance with local catfish size.


Cut bait is very effective for smaller specimens and it also has one great advantage. Freshly cut bait releases more scent.

The best way to cut it is to cut it in chunks. Take the whole mullet and cut into 2 or 3 pieces (either front and back half, or front, middle, and back). The size of chunks shou be in accordance with catfish size. The same goes for choosing the right hook size.

What is important here is to keep the skin on the chunks because it contains oils that attract catfish. And if you are wondering which one of 3 sections is the best, the answer is: HEAD!


Mullets can be frozen while still fresh and defrosted when you need them. Such bait works the best when cut into chunks to add more scent.

Mullet for Catfish Bait - Cutting

5 Reasons Why Using Mullet for Catfish Bait is Good

Many reasons why this baitfish works well have already been mentioned, however here are TOP 5 that should convince you to try it out!

Pleasant for anglers

Catfish baits like stinkbait have a horrendous smell that will stay on you, your clothes, and stuff you own for a long time! Preparing and storing such baits can be a disgusting nightmare. Mullets are natural and easy to use, and there is no awful smell.


Mullets can be used either whole or cut, which means that you can start with whole to try to attract bigger catfish. If that doesn’t work, simply “resize” your bait by cutting it into smaller pieces that are suitable for smaller specimens in your area.

Great for summer

Mullets are excellent for summer months when the water temperature is higher. Oil from mullets travels great distances in warm waters because higher temperature makes them more liquified. In cold water, oil tends to become more solid and doesn’t travel that far to attract catfish.

Excellent for beginners

Hooking live bait can be hard, but even if you kill it, catfish will still be interested! Trying out different hooking and presentation techniques will be both fun and useful for novice anglers. Besides, it is cheap and widely available.

Tasty for you

Many people love eating mullets. If you are one of them, I advise you to make fillets. You will enjoy a tasty lunch, while all leftovers from filleting, including head, can be used for chumming!

Other Secret Catfish Baits [Good Alternatives to Mullet]

Mullet for catfish bait is effective and great, however, it is not the only option. Anglers targeting catfish species have a variety of baits to choose from.

You can create DIY baits, buy them, or use completely natural food. All of those have certain advantages and disadvantages, and best of all, most of them are cheap and easily accessible!

Here is a list of the best:

Some of these may seem a bit weird, but experienced anglers will confirm that even the strangest things like soap can attract a hungry catfish!

Mullet for Catfish Bait - Alternatives


Using mullet for catfish bait is easy, fun, and very effective! Easily obtainable and very strong, this baitfish is great for many waters and conditions.

Cutting and hooking this bait is also easy and suitable for complete beginners too. And best of all, there is no disgusting smell as with some other catfish baits!

Just remember to follow local laws while fishing and check for any possible restrictions regarding baits or techniques!

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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