Cut fish is, hands down, one of the best baits on the planet for catching monster catfish! Fresh, frozen, or rotten, these are baits every catfish angler should give a try. Probably the most common questions I hear from new catfishermen that want to try cut bait, is how to cut it and how to hook it. There are several different ways to cut fish for bait. Sometimes, fish will prefer one cut over another and some, work better in certain situations. Here we will cover a few good ways to cut and hook cutbait and, why some cuts work best in certain situations.
One of my personal favorites! Fish heads work great for big fish and can be fished with nearly any rig, in water fast and still. Just cut your bait fish of choice behind the gills or pectoral fins. This cut can be hooked through the lips and up through a nostril, through the eyes, or through the top corner near the cut. I personally usually hook through the eyes unless it is a very large bait, in which case, I hook through the lips.
Another top choice for many catfishermen. As with heads, steaks can be fished with success using nearly any method, in any type of water. Steaks are cut vertically behind the head of the fish, through the spine, and may be cut in any thickness. A steak may be an inch up to 5 inches or more in width, depending on the bait size and the size of the fish you are targeting. A hook can be placed anywhere along the perimeter of the bait, just be sure to go through both layers of skin. This will help keep it on the hook during casting and when fish strike it.
(I will get some pic up soon!)
Gut pockets are simply just the entire gut section of a baitfish. They can be fished with any method and can be very effective even if other baits are not producing. To start this cut, turn the fish on its back(vertical). Cut through the belly, just behind the head, and stop at the spine. Next run your knife through the fish, toward the tail, staying against the spine. Hook the pocket across the opening through both outer skins. This will keep the guts from being slung out on a cast.
This is a cut I do not use often but, it can be especially effective when fishing in current or even drift fishing. When hooked properly, it can appear similar to live bait and gives off a decent scent trail. To make this cut, lay the fish on its side and make a cut behind the head in to the spine. (You can also start at the tail and cut up to the gills) Turn the knife sideways and cut back to the tail staying right next to the spine. (this method will include rib bones) To fillet with no ribs, start just behind the head at the mid point of the baitfish. Cut down the center, folding the meat back and scraping the ribs with the knife tip. Once you have all the meat off of the ribs, just cut down to the tail. I have seen many people repeatedly thread a fillet onto a hook like a worm. This will work at times but, in moving water, being hooked once or twice with a “tail” trailing the hook will make it appear to swim making it very attractive to passing catfish.
This is a great cut for small baitfish that just don’t have alot of meat on them. With large baits, it is also great for targeting very large catfish. This cut works well in about any situation but, works similar to a fillet in moving water and can mimic a live fish. To make this cut, start at the tail and cut towards the head making sure to stay next to the spine with the blade. Cut through the center of the fish and stop just behind the gills. Hook this through the eyes or nose and take the tail end of the cut, pull it up, and hook the end. This will expose the entire gut pocket.
Catfish love cut baits! If you are not including cut fish in your bait arsenal, you are definitely missing out on some great fishing. Give these cuts a try and let us know how you do.
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