Unbelievable (but True) Bait Secrets

Fish and Cut Bait with These Strange Lures

Gita M. Smith
Unbelievable but true bait secrets-fishing lures-Thinkstock

Finding the best fishing lures and bait is an art. 

Photo by Thinkstock

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.”

Fish Tales from the Road

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.


The 1998 Old Farmer's Almanac: This article was originally published in 2009 and has been updated.


Reader Comments

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Weird but effective

Try a shot of WD-40 on whatever bait you are using, a little known fact, the main ingredient is fish oil!

Name of bait

My dad used to take me fresh water fishing in the creek that ran behind the family farm in Petersburg, West Virginia and we would find our own bait by turning over the creek rocks. The bait looked like a black cyanided, lots of legs and a set of pinchers that could give you a nasty bite. It was great bait but for the life of me I can't remember the name of the critters. Can you help?

Rock Worms

I too learned from a Dad that rock worms are excellent bait. I later learned that a rock worm is the larvae of a fly, and the larvae is officially named a "hellgrammite". You can find more information here at Wikipedia under the article Dobsonfly.

Unusual fish bait

Fishing on a golf course pond in Virginia as a kid. Catching a bass with my last worm,I hooked the eye out and used it for bait. I proceeded to catch seven bass on the same eyeball. No joke.

Best time to fish!

The old folks here in NC tell me the best time to hit the pond, Lake or Ocean is when the Wife or Girlfriends are fusing and arguing no matter the time of day or night catching a fish is 50/50 but one thing you are sure to catch is a peice of mind.

The boy scouts at Camp Horne

The boy scouts at Camp Horne in Cottondale, Alabama catch fish all day long on slim Jim's!

Unbelievable but tru bait secrets

Lomax Dunham was my uncle. He would bait a hook with anything and catch more fish than anyone I knew. No live bait, just wash off those old plastic worms and put them in the dirt from last nights live worms for a while. Fish'll bite like they were real worms. And catfish like Marlbro butts. Oh the stories I could tell.

I was standing at the end of

I was standing at the end of the dock over the 4th weekend and we were hitting crappies and sunnys all morning,around noon the fish stopped biting and were were getting ready to head in. I remembered the day before spitting my camel snus pouch in the lake and seeing sunnys destroy it. So I threw the one I had in my lip on the hook and pulled a nice fat crappie first cast.

I have fished with worms,

I have fished with worms, minnows, crickets, liver, doughballs, rooster tails, etc. but the strangest catch I ever made was when my hook was tangled on the other side of a spillway. I jerked it loose and the bait was lost. As I swung the line back across the spillway pond a large mouth bass jumped up and impaled himself on my dry hook. He weighed about 4 lbs.

Speaking of dough balls and

Speaking of dough balls and liver... My grandfather taught me a trick to keep your liver from being stolen all the time... I just used the technique yesterday at Powderhorn pond, and caught 21 channel cats, with 7 of them being keepers (2-5lbs.). PANTYHOSE!!! A 3"x3" cut square of the lady garment, wrapped from the bottom up, around your treble hook (dough balls dipped in chicken liver blood.. Or just liver)... A little cable/zip tie secures the tightened hose below the hook eye, and cast, catch, dip and repeat!!!

Do any of you actually fish?

Do any of you actually fish? i mean one guy is talking about catching brown trout in the same body of water as tautog. one lives in fresh water and one in salt. seriously? backwoods fuck heads. shut up and stop pretending to fish .

i just got done reporting all

i just got done reporting all of you for being off topic. because you are simply stupid. you are retarded and stupid .you are driving me bat shit

First of all brown trout do

First of all brown trout do live in salt water its not false so do some fact checking before you try sounding well more intelligible then you actually are. Brown trout spend there likes in fresh brackish and SALT water. There happens to be plenty of these fish in salt water. Its a dagum shame that people don't investigate before they spue loads of shit out of there Mount. Tautog that are caught near some brown trout makes perfect since due to the fact tog are caught in ROCS that are laid all around small pairs in inner bay tributaries that are rifle salt water zones in which eventually spread out to BRACKISH water zones this happens to be the areas that brown trout returned year after year to spawning areas to make lil babies. Get an eduction before you talk about things you don't have a bit of knowledge. Oh yeah grow the fruck up moron.

I'vebeen using prawns in the

I'vebeen using prawns in the uk on freshwater ponds and I swear I catch carp tench bream rudd and roach nearly every cast.

One Friday lazy evening.. we

One Friday lazy evening.. we friends were fishing with the bait we bought from the shop.. nothing was working.. then my gf was so bored and tied her orange hairclip and thrown into the water.. we all laugh loud and then next thing we saw is a large fish around 20kg caught.. we had tough time get it from the water..

I think there is no limit when its about the fish baits..

the best bait is patience

the best bait is patience

I like to use strawberry

I like to use strawberry chicken breast for catfish. I put the night crawler on first then a piece of chicken, then I spit on the bait, I know its not lady like to spit, but it works for me. I have caught over 50 catfish this year,mostly channels. I am an avid believer of the farmers almanac. I have used it for years and will continue to do so =)

My two daughters and I were

My two daughters and I were fishing in our boat with red worms and could not get anything on the hook, although the bait was being eaten. We had just eaten some pizza and my younger daughter had thrown her crust out in the lake (she said it was biodegradeable, so OK). After about 2 minutes, a large catfish was attacking the crust. I quickly ate another slice and placed the crust on a treble hook. 2 hours later, we were eating catfish filets at the house from catfish caught on pizza crust (a catfish feeding frenzy)!

2 of my grandsons wanted to

2 of my grandsons wanted to fish for trout, but not wanting to let them in the swift moving river I took them to the pond popular for perch. I had heard of marshmallows and hotdogs being an acceptable bait. We baited up both. The marshmallow was good for 1 channel cat and the whiners worked great. They both caught several channel cats with the youngest catching a 2-3 lb and the older one caught one close to 5LBs,it was the biggest fish they had ever caught, and made great pics with grins a Papa was ecstatic to get pics of.

#1 tip on catching grouper in

#1 tip on catching grouper in the winter when the water is cold and the fish have 'lock jaw' go to your nearest grocery store and buy chicken wings put your grouper hook on the little part of the wing and hold on grouper love then its easy for them to get when they are 'lazy'

I have never heard of that!

I have never heard of that! That's awesome though! I'm going fishing in like 30 mins and I think I might stop by the grocery store and pick some up. Thanks for the info!

I love to saltwater fish and

I love to saltwater fish and I learned the hard way that if you just scent your bait dead are alive fishing becomes easy. If you are reading this Kick-N-Bass have some of the best scents in a bottle. If you want to really get some big ones Fishbites are top of the line. I have a catch all bait that I only tell my favorite friends because I can win a lot of fishing tournaments if use properlly.

When my son was 4 he loved to

When my son was 4 he loved to fish but couldn't stand to touch worms,,so he used his bubble gum,, wasn't 4 minutes later he caught a turtle. Now @ 42 he still loves to fish and yes he uses worms. Just wanted to share this with all of you oh yea I am his mom..

I tried an idea that I read

I tried an idea that I read on another forum: I used bacon, mixed with garlic powder & cherry koolaid powder (for color). I was fishing on a dock and I threw my line in. 2 seconds later, my pole was flying thru the air, into the water!!! I'm assuming that it was a big catfish! I will never know because that big fish has my pole with my koolaid bacon bait.

Periwinkles off the river

Periwinkles off the river bottom do the trick. Pull them out of thier little sand shell and pop 'em on a hook. You'll have supper shortly!

Read it somewhere.....was out

Read it somewhere.....was out on the boat, ran out of bait. Had a few lures in the tackle, so I pulled one out and tried it. Nothin'. Then, I remembered I'd heard this tip..."spray the lure with WD-40". Bass LOVE it! I was pulling in and releasing solid 2 hours before I had to re-spray. Best day fishing, ever!

Fish may love it, but it also

Fish may love it, but it also poisons them. Not to mention releasing petroleum products into the water.

WD40 is a water based

WD40 is a water based product. It was invented as part of a cooling system by nasa. Check up more on this and you will really , really be surprised. You can technically drink the stuff without harm.

If it were truly safe for the

If it were truly safe for the environment, the company that makes it wouldn't be recommending you not use it for that purpose. From this page: http://wd40.com/about-us/myths...

WD-40 Company has taken steps to respect and conserve the environment, and encourages its users to do the same. While WD-40 can be used to help protect fishing equipment from rust and corrosion, WD-40 Company does not recommend using WD-40 to attract fish.

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for WD-40 aerosol indicates the product is primarily petroleum-based, with the main ingredient being "solvent naptha, petroleum, medium aliphatic" (also known as Stoddard Solvent).

I grew up fishing, like most

I grew up fishing, like most Southern girls.
Grandma would get us up before daylight to work in the garden and right after we would race to the creek. One day when the other girls was using salamanders(I have never had the heart to kill them) I used the little square caramels I had in my pockets... I caught more than anyone that day!

I've used a number of weird

I've used a number of weird stuff to catch fish' me personally when I want to go fishing I go to the local grocery store and buy canned yellow sweet corn, a pack of hotdogs. I think its crazy I can go to the grocery store with two or three dollars and buy bait instead of going to the local bait a tackle shop and have to spend close to twenty dollars there but catch more fish with the stuff that I bought at the grocery store!!!!!. Who would of thought.......

Yes, I have caught more fish

Yes, I have caught more fish with canned corn and Wheatie balls than with worms!

In the cold winter months the

In the cold winter months the realy big catfish over fifty pounds will eat whole mussles and you can see when you catch one it's bottom lip will be sanded off. I have tried many times to catch the big ones with mussles but failed often not to mention it's cold water your hunting for mussles in to begin with. New solution on the shelf in walmart I purched some oyster sause (in the chineese food isle) and marinated some cut bait in it for 24 hours before fishing. Wow! It is the best thing that I have ever used on the big ones, and it is great on steak as well.

near night fall at local lake

near night fall at local lake eaten up with insects and ready to leave gave it 15 more minutes and went home with 3 big mouth bass never before probably never again but i wouldnt complain bro beleved in the night too big to be any but carp in the light of day we saw otherwise

we were fishing for hybreads

we were fishing for hybreads on a lake near home using chicken livers. When we ran out I took a paper towel and tore it into small squares and diped them in the blood which was left over. It worked just as good as the chicken liver.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Out of the Mouths of Babes
One Spring day I was crappie fishing with my two daughters. The spoons we were using were not working at all. One daughter suggested we try the glitter off their backpacks, pink & blue. Just to go along with them, no other reason, I decided to try their suggestion. We then enjoyed a very productive day of fishing !

Proud Dad

My father always laughed at

My father always laughed at me when i was a little kid cause i would try the strangest baits to go fishing with. One time when i was about 10 or so i took my sister down to the salt water tributary behind our house at the time and we were fishing for croaker, tautog, speckled, and brown trout, basically what ever would bite. we didnt have enough money to buy a box of worms after i'd bought her lunch with my allowance, so we went over to the produce depatment of our grocery store and bought a bunch of celery. the lady checking us out laughed when she heard that we were gonna use it as bait, but when we showed back up about three hours later with about half a dozen croaker in a wheeled cooler filled with river water to get my sisters picture taken and posted on the community catch board she couldn't believe her eyes. my dad still insists it was the smell of the chicken nuggets on the celery that attracted those fish, and me and my sister still swear up and down that it was all the celery, so try it some time. you never know what you'll catch if you don't try, just like attracting deer by rubbing your hands and face with orange oil to keep off the cold ;)

I was fishing with my

I was fishing with my youngest son a few years ago. He was eating gummy worms, but he doesnt like the orange ones. I suggested as a joke that he put one on his hook and use it for bait. We caught 18 large bluegill and redear before we ran out of gummies. We had behemoths and redworms but the orange gummies were what the fish wanted. We still save all the orange gummies throughout the year for bait when fishing time rolls around.

I claim to be the best...I

I claim to be the best...I thought I was just talking. Ran out of bubble gum trick worms in Tallessee, Al. After losing the last one on my first catch, I rigged up a Hardee's straw with two hooks. The first at the end of my line ,tied a second hook to the first and hooked the straw near the rear 30 min later I caught a large mouth bass of about 2 lbs. I knew I was good!!!

A great and readily available

A great and readily available bait for Catfish and or Sunfish and Bluegill. BACON!! Yes, a strip of bacon attached to your catfish hook will be as good a cut bait as you can get for Channel Catfish. Small pieces of the white bacon rind cut into small 3/4 inch strips on your bluegill hook work really well and many time you'll catch two or three fish before you need to re-bait. Fresh bacon works as well as stale or slightly rancid bacon.

I use Tomato hornworms they

I use Tomato hornworms they are so tough skined that the fish have a hard time getting them off the hook...I have caught as many as 30 to 50 blue gills on one worm

I like to use red wasp larvae

I like to use red wasp larvae just before the wasps are ready to hatch. The problem is, the nest is covered in adult wasps at this time. So you need to knock the nest down quickly and leave the area quickly. Return when the bees have settled and get your nest full of larvae. Great smallmouth bass bait.

I like natural bait when

I like natural bait when available, crickets, night clrawlers, minnows =, mussels, grubs, grass shrimp, chiken parts, beef melt, brem heads or parts and even cut bait like carp or gaspar goo, the largest catfish I caught on a rod and reel was almost 70lbs using bream parts. Now go get um and if u can tell an old girl some tips on artificial bait...I might try something different, but chicken liver and such is so much cheaper on the pocket book for and old country girl.. Good luck and good fishing

I am a fisher woman! My

I am a fisher woman! My father in law always depended upon the "farmers almanac" for the right day to fish. I have cat fish ponds and every time I try to fish, they are not biting. So I decided to check out the almanac. I hope it works out for me like it did for him!

I'd be interested in know if

I'd be interested in know if this worked for you Mary. While notable dates of fish activity could be useful there are so many factors that come into play when fishing. The effects that air temperature, water temperature, wind speed/directions and sun exposure can have on fish activity might make the almanac not as effective for this as you might think.

However, I could be completely wrong and sound like a goof right now! In any case if the you need help catching fish you might want to check out some of the fishing tips I've gathered and archived on the web.

Has anyone else found that using specific dates via the almanac for fishing to be useful?

Yes! First year I used it and

Yes! First year I used it and this is the best season I've had yet! 96% today y'all. Heading out soon myself, happy fishing!!!

yes the old farmers almanac

yes the old farmers almanac is accurate about 76% of the time. Learned from my father his mother( my grandmother)