How-To Guide: Can You Catch Catfish with Hot Dogs? – Freshwater Fishing Advice

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Hot dogs are an interesting fishing bait for catfish that few anglers have actually tested but seem like they could work on paper. Hot dogs are easy to acquire and easier to rig. Hot dogs certainly have a place at the table of good fishing baits for certain species of fish but are useless for some others.

Can you catch catfish using hot dogs as bait? You can catch channel catfish using hot dogs as fishing bait. Although not as good of bait for catfish as live or cut natural bait is, hot dogs certainly are capable of catching nice channel cats, especially if you add garlic, Kool-Aid, and even alcohol to enhance their flavor. Hot dogs can be very good catfish baits if you are in a pinch.

Hot dogs are great catfish baits because of their ease-of-use, lack of mess, and generally attractive properties for channel catfish.

That said, for big channel cats as well as blue catfish and flatheads, I would not recommend using hot dogs.

You may get lucky and catch some but you’d be much better off using natural food. Let’s dive into this topic a little deeper and see how to enhance hot dogs and take them from good enough to very good for channel catfish.

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Hot Dogs as Catfish Bait

Hot dogs are meaty and produce a pretty good natural scent and flavor. This makes them a natural fit for hungry catfish looking for an easy and chewy meal.

Hot dogs come in a variety of flavors and sizes but usually hot dogs cut into thirds will work best as it will fit properly into a channel catfish’s mouth without much hassle.

You could probably get away with using hot dog halves but I feel like that will result in catfish simply ripping the bait off the hook.

Using thirds will ensure catfish grab the whole thing. Vienna sausages can work great as channel catfish bait because of their size and flavor profile.

Which Species of Catfish Bite Hot Dogs?

While I would say to use hot dogs as catfish bait if you have them, I wouldn’t fully recommend hot dogs for flathead catfish or blue catfish. You will have a hard time catching any flatheads on hot dogs since they prefer living bluegill and shad over dead or cut items.

You may have some luck catching small blue catfish on hot dogs, especially using trotlines, but certainly nothing bigger than a few pounds. Channel catfish will be your best bet for catching on hot dogs.

I know people who have caught very large channel cats on hot dogs but, generally speaking, you’ll catch a ton of fish in the small to medium-range. Hot dogs will catch you plenty of channel cats but they’ll be mostly of the small variety.

They can be great to fish with for kids because they’ll be easy to rig, won’t make a real mess, and will catch manageable catfish a kid can handle.

Do Bullheads Bite Hot Dogs

I would absolutely try using hot dogs as bait if you are fishing for bullheads. Bullheads or bullhead catfish are essentially just small catfish in many ways.

Big bullheads and small channel catfish are the same size and feed on many of the same items to include minnows, shad, clams, insects, vegetation, worms, and crayfish.

Generally speaking, bullheads have smaller mouths than channel catfish so instead of fishing with thirds, I would recommend fishing bullheads with hot dog cut into 1/4 chunks. If bullheads are present, they will bite your hot dogs.

I have consistently found bullheads to be less picky than channel catfish with what they feed on and what they’ll bite. To a bullhead, a piece of hot dog is a fine looking meal.

For a complete breakdown of the best gear, baits, hooks, rods, and electronics to catch more and bigger catfish, check out my recommended catfish gear list.

How To Make Flavored Hot Dog Baits

To take your hot dogs from good to very good for catfish, simply add some spice to them. Garlic salt, Kool-Aid powder, and even some alcohol such as red wine or beer can really make them pop.

Catfish really like the scent and flavor of the above-listed flavorings and the meat of the hot dog will absorb them if marinated for some time in them.

All you’ll need is a pack of hot dogs, a plastic baggie or a pale, and the flavoring of choice. Cut the hot dogs into thirds and toss them in the bag. Pour your desired flavoring in and allow the hot dogs to marinate at least an hour.

My favorite way to do this is actually to combine garlic salt and Kool-Aid together. I just mix in the powder from both items to make Kool-Aid and garlic-flavored hot dog chunks. These seem to catch the most channel cats for me.

Best Season to Use Hot Dogs

You could catch catfish year-round using hot dogs as bait but I would recommend the summer as when you should use them. The summer is the best time of year to catch channel cats and even small blue catfish using hot dogs.

During the summer, catfish will be more active feeding during the day in deeper water but at night move into shallower water closer to shore.

Because catfish will be active night and day swimming around looking for food, you stand a much better chance of one or two of them locating your hot dog and taking a bite.

This is especially true if you add some flavoring and scent to them as I showed above. Catfish rely heavily on their sense of smell to find food and adding attractants like garlic can really help them hone in on your bait.

You can catch catfish all year on hit dogs but you’ll see the most success during the summer. During the winter, I feel like catfish are only interested in natural fish-based meals.

Live Bait vs. Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are really good catfish bait but live bait is a lot better from my experience. Catfish love biting food items they see every day and more importantly eat every day. Channel catfish like eating fish like shad, shiners, and minnows, along with insects, crayfish, clams, and vegetation.

That’s their diet. If you throw them a shiner or chunk of clam, they will prefer that over any artificial or human food you can try. As I said earlier, hot dog chunks make really good channel catfish and bullhead bait, but I like live bait a lot better.

The thing that works in the hot dogs’ favor is that they are easy to acquire, you don’t have to worry about keeping hot dogs alive, and they work good enough. Hot dogs are good catfish bait but not as good live or cut natural bait.

Stink Bait vs. Hot Dogs

Forget stink baits. Just stop buying them and throw out any you already have. Stink baits can catch some small channel catfish. I will give them that and they are better than nothing. But there are so many better baits out there that work better and won’t be a total nasty mess to deal with.

Catfish like natural smelling and tasting food way better than rotting stuff. Stink baits are a dime a dozen and litter the aisles of just about every bait shop in the country but they simply are better at catching anglers than catching catfish.

Hot dogs are night and day, a million times better than stink baits for catfish. Please don’t ever buy stink baits again. If you want a convenient and effective bait for catfish that also won’t stink, get hot dogs.

Final Thoughts

Hot dogs can be a very good catfish bait capable of catching you a ton of small and medium-sized channel catfish and perhaps even a trophy or two.

They also work very good for bullheads and can be decent for small blue catfish. You won’t have much luck fishing for flatheads with hot dogs since they prefer eating living baits like bluegill and shad.

If you decide to fish with hot dogs, cut the hot dogs into thirds and add some flavoring for extra effect. Hot dogs can be a really good convenient catfish bait but it is no substitution for live bait or dead cut fresh bait like shad or clams.

Related Questions

Do bass like hot dogs?

I don’t think hot dogs make good bass bait at all. You can catch some small bass on hot dogs but there are so many better bass baits out there you can use. Forget hot dogs if you want to really catch bass.

Do catfish like garlic?

I have found that channel catfish and bullheads really like the flavor and scent of garlic. I don’t think they’d bite actual garlic pieces and cloves of garlic seem like they’d be hard to attach a hook to but the scent and flavor, they love.

My favorite thing to do is pour a good amount of garlic salt on whatever bait I’m using be it hot dogs, corn, or chicken liver. The smell will draw them in and the flavor will make them hold on longer.

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