Chicken for Catfish Bait [Liver, Gizzards, Breast, etc.]

Chicken for Catfish Bait

Choosing the right bait for catfish may seem easy, as they are known for their habit to eat basically anything.

But, is it really that simple? Not all baits will work equally good in various conditions, especially if you don’t know how to make them effective.

Chicken for catfish bait works excellent if you know how to properly use it. While chicken liver may be the most popular, it certainly isn’t the only option. You can use gizzards, breasts, or even skin for some extra scent!

Chicken is widely available, easy to use, and affordable at least when it comes to gizzards and liver. This makes it excellent for all anglers, even beginners.

The only trick is to know how to spice it up, because almost all chicken parts lack natural scent, blood, and juices that attract catfish.

Here I will tell you more about using chicken for catfish, and even share some simple, practical, and effective recipes.



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What Does Catfish Eat in the Wild?

Before you choose the best catfish bait, you have to know what their natural diet is. Catfish are not picky, and they will eat anything that gets in their way. In certain conditions, some species will even scavenge for food.

When young, catfish will feed on small things, as they are limited with the size of their mouth. As you probably know, they have no teeth to take pieces of larger prey. On their menu you can find algae, beetles, insects, small plants, and fish eggs. As they grow bigger, they start eating larger prey, and that includes worms, small baitfish, snails, crayfish, frogs, and freshwater shrimps.

Large and heavy specimens of some species can eat larger baitfish, and even occasional mammals that end up in the water. Mice, rats, or even some injured birds can end up as their lunch!

I mentioned the difference in species, and that has a large effect on your bait selection. Channels can be caught on almost anything, while flatheads mostly eat live baitfish. Blue catfish are not as picky as flatheads, but they won`t eat everything that channels eat. They mostly feed on baitfish and crustaceans.

Chicken for Catfish Bait - Wild

Can You Use Chicken for Catfish Bait?

Chicken for catfish bait can definitely be used, and it is one of the best baits if you know which parts to use. Liver and gizzards are probably the most popular, but you can use any part of chicken as an ingredient of DIY catfish baits.

Plain and almost scent-free parts of a chicken (like breast) are not the best choice, at least when used solely on a hook, without “spices”.

You can even use fatty and greasy skin! Grease is excellent as a scent carrier through water. Of course, you will not get the largest catfish on it, but is suitable for smaller ones. It all depends on your targeted species and the size of a specific fish.

The same is truth for using any part of chicken as catfish bait. It will be deadly for smaller to medium sized catfish, but not for the big ones. When it comes to species, chicken works great for channels and blues, but it is less effective for flatheads.

Are Chicken Livers Good for Catfish Bait?

Chicken livers are probably the best part of a chicken that can be used as bait. They can be bought in supermarkets and can be used as they are! There is no need to mix them with other ingredients or spices like garlic.

Of course, if you want you can add various stuff to it to make it more interesting, but it is not mandatory. Liver scent attracts catfish from a great distance. The only problem is that liver can be soft, and you may need to use bait thread to secure it on a hook. If you plan to keep the fish, you can use barbed hooks or treble hooks because they will hold it better.

Size of the liver should be chosen in accordance with the yeartime. When catfish are less active and in search of easy prey/food, use smaller pieces. When water warms up, you can switch to larger ones.

Another advantage of this bait is that although it has certain smell, it is not nearly as disgusting as many other catfish baits that anglers frequently use. It is a pleasure to use it.

And one more tip: keep the liver cooled down. When warm, it falls apart easier and faster which makes it harder to mount on a hook and keep it on under water.

Chicken for Catfish Bait - Liver

Are Chicken Gizzards Good for Catfish Bait?

Chicken liver for catfish bait may work excellent but it is not the only usable part of a chicken. Another option are gizzards.

Chicken gizzards for catfish bait have one big advantage. They are stronger and more resilient than livers. Gizzards will stay firmly on the hook.

However, they have one disadvantage. There is not enough blood that will carry the scent around and attract fish. To overcome this problem, you can soak them up in blood from livers. Mix livers and gizzards together in an airtight bowl with a lid and keep it in a fridge for 48 hours.

Gizzards are available in almost all larger stores and are very cheap. If you like DIY baits, you can even mix them with chopped baitfish or similar ingredient that will add more scent. Process is the same as the one for mixing with livers.

Same as liver and breast (that I will mention in the next chapter), gizzards work the best when used on Carolina rig. This is one of the most popular rigs in the world of fishing, so this is the ideal time to practice how to make it.

Are Chicken Breasts Good for Catfish Bait? [Raw Meat]

Chicken breast for catfish bait can be used, but not without some improvement first. Breasts have no blood and almost no smell and taste, at least to catfish.

However, you can chop them in desired bait sizes, they are easy to hook, and are long lasting under water. Among all chicken parts, they are the least disgusting for handling. Those are of course the advantages.

However, breasts are tasteless as I already mentioned, and you have to make them more attractive. The easiest way is to chop them into pieces and add garlic powder. Rub the powder well into the meat and leave it in an airtight container in the fridge for 24 hours. After that, they are ready to be used.

If you want to add more taste in less time, you can add KoolAid together with garlic, in the same amount. Then leave it overnight and use it tomorrow!

Be careful when adding garlic not to add too much. It can dry out the meat, and dry meat is not effective for releasing scent. Although it may smell string to you, it is not the same under water. Pieces of chicken shouldn’t be completely covered with garlic.

I have to mention something else here, before I proceed to my recipe. Some anglers go a step too far in spicing up chicken breast and use stuff like WD 40.

Don’t ever do that! They will tell you that it is effective, and it may be the truth, but it is a disaster for the ecosystem and all freshwater organisms. Responsible anglers try to keep the waters heathy for future generations.

Chicken for Catfish Bait - Breast

Chicken Breast for Catfish Bait [My Best Recipe]

I have tried many recipes for all kinds of baits and experimenting with chicken breast gave various results. Some were horrible while others were great. It may not be exactly the same in your waters, so play with the ingredients. Recipes with chicken breast are extremely easy as they require just a few ingredients that will be a part of a marinade.

Anis is one of the most effective attractants for catfish. You can use either anis oil or anis extract. Just follow the steps:

• Get chicken breasts and cut into pieces of a desired size

• Get strawberry jelly powder and read the instructions on how to use it. Prepare it as described and if you have, add a few drops of alcohol.

• Put the jelly in a bowl and add 3-5 drops of Anis

• Add chicken and mix it all with your hands to cover all the pieces. Thicker jelly stays on the meat better, but if it seems that you don’t have enough, add a bit of water later

• Close the bowl with a lid (or put the breasts in vacuum bags) and refrigerate for 3 days

If you want, you can add a bit of garlic too. One teaspoon is more than enough in this recipe.

Jelly will keep the meat well hydrated, and the more it marinades the more effective it becomes. Meat will soak up the flavour well. If you want, you can add some garlic too.

Use sugar-free jelly. In my experience, it works much better. This bait is excellent for channel catfish in lakes or slower rivers.

Chicken for Catfish Bait - Recipe

Are Chicken and Garlic a Good Combination for Catfish Bait?

As already mentioned, YES, they are! Garlic is excellent as a catfish attractant, and almost any kind of bait requires some.

Anglers put garlic into dough bait and dip bait. You can use when fishing for catfish with hotdogs. It also works excellent if you are using dogfood as bait. The same goes for chicken.

Garlic works with anything, and it is probably the most effective spice you can find. It is great for chicken breast, but it also hoes well with gizzards, liver, hearts, or other pieces of chicken, like skin.

Chicken and garlic for catfish bait work well because garlic scent can spread far away through water. Chicken, except for liver, doesn’t have scent strong enough to attract catfish. Use of garlic (or some other spice like anis) is mandatory.

Can You Use Cooked Chicken for Catfish Bait?

Catfish like smelly and disgusting baits, and you forgot some chicken in your fridge form last weekend barbecue? Now it is spoiled, smelly, and it seems good for catfish bait! But is it?

Well, not really. Chicken has to be well done in order to avoid salmonella. That leaves no blood or meat juices in it, so there is no way for the flavor to spread through the water effectively. You can fix that with some spices, but raw chicken works better. However, cooked chicken can be great as an ingredient of DIY catfish baits. Remove bones if there are any, put it in a blender with baitfish or dog food and add flour. You can create effective dough bait from it.

You can use it mixed with smelly cheese for catfish like limburger, or any other ingredient that will add flavor and make it less dry.

How Do You Keep Chicken Parts on a Catfish Hook?

I already mentioned this in the previous chapters when I wrote about liver, gizzard, and breast, but here are a few more tips that may help.

Use bait thread – bait thread looks like a dental floss, and it is used to tie baits. You can wrap it around soft and sensitive parts like chicken liver to make it firm on a hook.

Keep the chicken baits cold but not frozen – cold baits are harder and more resilient. Invest in a portable fridge to keep with you on the water. Avoid freezing the meat as it will become even softer when melted.

Use suitable hooks – if you plan to catch and release, you don’t have a lot of options, and you will have to find your way with circle hooks. But if you plan to keep your catfish for lunch use treble or barbed hooks. They will keep the bait in place. Liver tends to slip off and a barb will partially prevent that

Use bait mesh – mesh is easier to use than bait thread, but it is more visible to fish. If you plan to use it, here is a tip. Place it over the liver and then leave it like that overnight in a closed container in a fridge. It will take some of the smell and become less suspicious.

Other Secret Catfish Baits [Good Alternatives to Chicken]

Chicken, especially the liver, is one of the best options for catfish, but it is not the only one. There are a lot of catfish baits that can be used, and here are some ideas:

Hot dogs – cheap and smelly ones work great if spiced up with some garlic or KoolAid. Channels love it.

Freshwater shrimp – this bait can be used both dead and alive, depending on your wishes and local rules and regulations. It works wonders for blue and channel catfish!

Dogfood – not only it is cheap and easily accessible, but it is also very efficient! Some anglers use it as an ingredient of DIY baits, while other puncture holes in a can and submerge it. It will release scent and attract catfish from a distance. It is one of the easiest ways of chumming the water!

Baitfish – Baitfish is always an excellent option. It is the most effective bait for flatheads, and it works in all waters. Just make sure to use species that are naturally present.

Cheese – cheese will make any dough or dip bait twice as effective. Simple rule is the smellier the better!

Catfish boilies – boilies are not just for carp! Strong scented options may work wonders for catfish, and the best of all, you can make the at home.

Cut bait – pieces of fish like shad or bluegill are excellent for blue catfish. Jut make sure that the fish is fresh!


Chicken liver for catfish bait may be the most popular option, but it is not the only one. Many parts of the chicken can be used if you know how to do it.

Livers are hard to hook, but they have excellent smell, while gizzards and breasts stay on a hook better, but they lake the attractive scent.

Various options and recipes exist to spice up chicken for catfish bait to make it deadly! Don’t be afraid to experiment until you get it right. Not all waters are the same.

And the last tip: Wash your hands after handling raw chicken to avoid any contamination with salmonella!

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