How to Use Chicken Livers for Catfish Bait

by Lisa Parris

The active pursuit and capture of a monster catfish is the dream of many an angler. However, there is more to catching this whiskered bottom dweller than is immediately apparent. The elusive and clever catfish is unlike any other; this is due, in part, to the highly developed sense of smell that can be attributed to the barbels protruding from their nose and upper jaw. Well-informed fishermen can exploit this trait by choosing bait with a strong scent, such as cheese, crawdads, clams or chicken livers, that will attract hungry catfish.

Chicken Livers

  1. Purchase chicken livers at a grocery store. The blood in the liver is a powerful attractant for both channel cats and blue catfish.

  2. Cut the chicken livers into bait-size pieces with a small pocket knife. Then place one piece of liver on the hook, running the barb through the meat a single time. Multiple punctures will damage the structure of the bait, making it difficult to work with.

  3. Cut a circular piece of nylon about 3 inches in diameter from a pair of old stockings. Wrap the material around the bait.

  4. Secure the nylon with a clean rubber band. Catfish are very sensitive to foreign scents, so recycled rubber bands are not recommended.

  5. Cast your line using a lob cast rather than a fast snap to help the bait stay on the hook. Then wait for the meaty smell of chicken liver to spread throughout the water and lead the catfish to you.

Dough Balls

  1. Increase the appeal of your chicken liver bait by combining it with cheese. Start by simply cutting three pounds of cheese into cubes and placing them in an old five-gallon bucket.

  2. Add enough boiling water to the cheese to cover the cubes completely and then mash the cheese until smooth.

  3. Blend two pounds of chicken livers and add them to the mashed cheese. Stir until the two are well blended.

  4. Cover the bucket loosely and place in a warm, sunny location for three to four days.

  5. Remove the lid and stir in enough flour to make a stiff dough. Roll the dough into balls and use as bait.

Items you will need

  • 2 pounds of chicken livers
  • Pocket knife
  • Old nylon hose
  • Rubber band
  • 3 pounds of cheese
  • Boiling water
  • 5 gallon bucket with lid
  • Flour


  • If you don't have any nylons available, you can always tie the bait to the hook with a standard piece of sewing thread.


  • Use caution when removing the bucket lid if making dough balls; the aroma can be quite pungent.

About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.