For eons, we humans have raided our gardens, pantries and tackle-boxes in quest of fool-proof fish bait.
Read on to hear some true unbelievable bait stories from the Deep South…
The Man Who Put His Heart Into Fishing
Find them a stack of Bibles and some Alabama fishermen will swear that Toad Smith once used a piece of his own heart to catch a blue catfish. “When he had heart bypass surgery, Ol' Toad asked the doctor to save a piece heart that had been removed, ” recalls John Phillips of Fairfield, Alabama, author of Masters' Secrets of Catfishing. “Well, Toad put it into a jar with some Berkley's Strike, a real strong-smellin' catfish lure. Soon as he was well enough, he baited up a couple of hooks with pieces of his heart, and before you know it, snap, a blue cat takes the bait. Toad bragged for years he was the only man in America to catch a fish with his own heart.”
Have you ever run out of your usual fare while the fish were still biting? Take a hint from Danny Fields of Oak Grove, Alabama. Dejected but not defeated, he scooped up a dead 'possum from the side of the road near his cabin, cut the freshly killed marsupial into bite-size chunks, and baited his lines. “Don't you just know the 'possum meat caught more and bigger catfish than any of his regular baits?” Phillips says.
Like Fields, highly rated fishing guide Lomax Dunham found himself without bait one day on Alabama's Lake Martin. “We ran out of minnows and crickets, but I had a bag of marshmallows on the boat,” Dunham recalls. “We baited our lines with marshmallows and caught lots of fish.” Dunham has been known to catch boatloads of catfish on unusual baits.
The Cleanest Way to Fish
Dunham is also a believer in Ivory Soap as bait. He says he “cut it up in small cubes and left it in the water on our weighted lines overnight.” But Mike Bolton, outdoors editor of The Birmingham News, says that Ivory Soap pales in comparison to Palmolive Gold when it comes to catching fish. Bolton went fishing with Jimmy Bedwell, a barber from Livingston, Alabama, who melts down whole cases of the fragrant golden soap in black, cast-iron pots in his backyard. “You have to get the soap soft enough to sink your hooks into it. Put out your lines, and when you come back the next day, they'll be full of catfish,” promises Bolton.
You must remember that there's plenty of salt in the sea to take with the tales your fellow fishermen tell.
–John Hersey, American author (1914–93)
What is your most unusual bait or fishing technique? Tell us below.