058063-R1-67-67Opening the container of dip bait for the first time the acrid scent that arises is overpowering.  The bait overpowers the fresh smell of spring flowers along the shoreline of Crab Orchard Lake.  Regardless of the odor, dip baits catch catfish.

Crab Orchard Lake in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is a renowned catfish lake.  Although the lake contains channel, blue and flathead catfish, it is the channel catfish that are the most popular with fishermen.  According to IDNR Fisheries Manager, Chris Bickers, the quality and body condition of the channel catfish continues o be excellent.  His most recent survey found 44 percent of the fish larger than 22 inches in length.

Most popular in the early spring and through the spawning season, dip baits are usable all year around.

Pay attention to the entire baiting system for dip baits.  Used properly it becomes a real catfish taking machine.

Preparation of the bait is easy.  There are several catfish baits on the market.  The best are the ones that have a consistency of mayonnaise.  The bait comes in plastic “tubs” that contain enough for several trips on the water.

To maintain the proper texture, simply add water (to make it thinner) or flour (to make it thicker.)  Most dip baits have a cheese base with fish parts and other “secret” ingredients.  The bait requires stirring frequently before dipping the bait holding device.

The bait holding device is usually a ribbed plastic worm through which a monofilament leader passes.  At the terminal end of the leader, attach a treble hook pull up it snug against the end of the worm.  Attach the other end of the leader to a heavy line that goes to the reel.

A secret of getting the bait to last longer is the use of paper towels.  The angler just rinses off the plastic bait holding device and then dries it with the paper towel.  Then he dips it back into the bait.  The dryer the plastic the better it holds the bait.  Another way to accomplish the same task is to use several bait leaders all rigged alike.  Attach the leader to a ball-bearing swivel.  Then remove the leader from the line and allow it to dry out before being placing back into action.  In the interim, a new leader and rig is added to the swivel and the rig dipped into the bait and used.

Some of the areas where dip baits are particularly effective are those where slack water is just off from fast water.  Deeper holes in front of or behind fallen trees, brush piles or log jams in the water.  Any eddy down stream of fast water and some obstruction is a good location.  In other words most any place that is close to structure is a good one.

Try the area for about 15 minutes.  If the catfish are present, they will either take the bait in those 15 minutes or else they are not hungry.  If nothing happens, then it is time to find another place to fish.  You can always come back to the location later.

At the end of your catfishing trip, you just reseal the dip bait container and put it in the garage for the next trip.  It will not spoil.

For lake and refuge information contact the National Fish & Wildlife Service Visitor Center, 8588 Illinois Route 148, Marion, IL62959.  The phone number is 618-997-3344.  There is a small user fee required to fish the area.




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  1. I think one of the biggest mistakes that anglers make with choosing a rod and reel for catfishing with punch baits and dip baits is that they use equipment that is too heavy. This is across the board just a general problem, I have tendency to go with MUCH lighet gear than most people use, even for trophy blue cats.

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