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While many fishing stores sell cottonseed meal cake as catfish or carp bait, it can sometimes get expensive. You can also buy cottonseed meal and make your own inexpensive version instead. It takes only a few minutes, and you can continue to replenish your bait supply as needed. Label it properly when you store in it in the refrigerator, so no one will mistake it for a snack.
Carp and Cat Fish Bait
This is a quick, easy, and cheap bait. Purchase some imitation vanilla flavoring. Don't bother wasting the real vanilla flavoring from your cupboards; that stuff is quite expensive and it's better used on cookies or cakes than in bait. Then buy some cottonseed meal; this is usually sold in bait stores. If your bait store doesn't carry it, ask your local feed store.
Mix 3 tablespoons of the imitation vanilla flavoring or extract, 1 cup of cottonseed meal, and 4 slices of crumbled white bread in a bowl. Mush and knead it with your hands until it looks like uncooked bread dough. To use it, roll a ball big enough to cover a #12 treble hook. Store the rest in a container (a sealed plastic bag is fine) in the refrigerator.
Buffalo Carp Bait
Bobberstop.com, an angler-run Wisconsin website, recommends specific bait recipes to catch specific fish. Its cottonseed cake recipe attracts buffalo carp. To make this, take a cup of cottonseed meal and pour either strawberry or chocolate syrup over it while mixing it with a spoon, to form a dough. Add water if it needs more liquid. Then add the final ingredient: a sprinkling of black pepper, which will attract the buffalo carp. Roll this into dough balls to cover the hook you wish to use.
Buying Cottonseed Meal Cake
If you cannot find plain cottonseed meal, it might be easier to simply buy the premade cottonseed meal cake. Some bait stores don't carry the cakes, but many feed stores do. Catfish anglers use it by either putting it into a chum bucket or into a burlap sack with a rock and hanging it in the water while they fish.
Margaret Dilloway's debut novel, "How to be an American Housewife," is out now and her second, "The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns," will be published in August 2012. She has been a writer for more than 10 years and has written for publications such as "San Diego Family Magazine" and the Huffington Post. Dilloway holds a B.A. from Scripps College.