The best way to use chicken livers for catfish bait

catfishing bait
Folks have been catching Catfish on many different concoctions and un natural offerings throughout time, un natural meaning the offering is not normally found in the catfish’s environment such as deer hearts, ivory soap, kool aid soaked chicken breast to name a few,but I guess, of all the un natural baits that have been thrown at the catfish over the years, the chicken liver is going to be hard to beat as far as attract ability goes.

Chicken liver will flat out catch catfish but it will mainly attract the channel cats but the one drawback to using chicken livers for bait is, it’s not angler friendly.

Although chicken livers make a great bait for channel cats and is very easy to obtain at most grocery stores.

It has still always been sort of a challenge to fish with chicken liver as they are hard to keep on the hook as they are being casted to the cats.

“Lobbing it” as I call it was my best attempt to get the liver where I wanted it be and still sometimes I couldn’t get it where I wanted it to land for fear of throwing it off my hook; lobbing it is a gentle side hand cast will generally get it out there close to my target without slinging the chicken livers off.

Don’t get discouraged though, I have a solution for this annoying issue of keeping them on the hook long enough to catch a catfish.

Thanks to our modern medicine field, you can now fish with chicken livers at your favorite fishin hole and sling them pesky livers anywhere you want without worrying about slinging them off of your hook.
It’s called tubular elastic; it’s designed in the medical world for keeping gauze in place on different body parts such as legs, arms and fingers and it comes in many sizes for each need but catfish anglers have repurposed the 1 inch tubular material for a new way to keep chicken livers on your hook and help your catch ratio improve.tubular elastic for chicken liver bait

Here’s how it works

1. Using some thread or light lb. fishing line tie off a two inch section of tubular elastic with a simple over hand knot and cut it behind the knot leaving one end closed and one end open, creating a bag to load the livers in.
2. Now turn the tube inside out and give it a good stretch to tighten to insure the splice will not come loose as it now creates a bag.
3. Now you begin to load the livers in the bag putting in enough in each bag to expand the elastic so it will keep the liver in a compact ball.
4. This step will close the tubular bag up, securing the liver in the bag. Simple run the hook through the top of the tubular elastic bag and give it a twist, it doesn’t matter if the hook makes it through any of the liver at this point, we just want to secure the top so the liver cant fall out or be slung off.
5. Give the bait a twist and run the hook back through the top of the bag a couple of times to help stretch the elastic even more to expose the livers as it starts to bleed and soak through the bag.
6. On the last step, stab the point of the hook through the meat or bulkiest part of the liver leaving the hook exposed for the final assault.

With this method you are now able to fish with chicken livers like never before without worrying about slinging your bait off your hook or even having the small fish steal your bait. Of course the small ones can still aggravate us with pecks rolls but it is extremely hard for a small fish to completely rob us of our chicken liver bait now giving us a better chance of a good fish hook up.
This is ideal for most all presentations used in catfishing, I’ve used it and it works well when still fishing from the bank or anchored boat and I’ve also used it for float fishing around cover.
A once delicate and hard to fish but popular catfish bait has become very reliable and durable bait for catching channel catfish in rivers, streams and lakes when loaded into the tubular elastic bags.

Tips on using chicken livers
Fresh not frozen

Chicken livers are awesome bait for catfish I think because of the blood content within the liver itself and I believe it is what does a lot of the attracting plus it’s an awesome bait because it is so easy to obtain by everyday anglers, but remember all chicken livers is not the same and the liver that you want to avoid is chicken livers that have been frozen.

Some grocery stores handle fresh livers and these are the ones you want and others handle frozen livers and the fresh livers will always be better as they haven’t been broken down from the freezing process.

When you are choosing the livers for bait always look at the freshness of the livers by looking at the reddish tint of the contents, fresh livers have a stronger more durable texture for using for catfish and will not be mushy as the frozen ones will get, which will allow the liver to escape from the tubular bag much too quickly so fresh is always the better option.

Keep em cool

For chicken livers to remain firm and suitable for catfish bait it is always better to keep them cool, it seems the warmer they get the more delicate and mushy they become.

I keep mine in a small cooler until I’m ready to load a sack for bait but sometimes I will pre-load 20 or so bags before I get to my fishing destination, but I will keep them in zip loc bags and away from direct contact with any ice until I’m ready to use I want all the blood juices to not be diluted with melted ice water.

Now is the perfect time to use this method bait preparation for channel catfish as they have recently quit spawning and now are feeding heavily to regain their strength for the remaining summer.
catfish caught on chicken livers

If you would like to try this method of fishing with chicken livers and land more catfish, you can buy this 1 inch tubular elastic online, it’s not expensive at all and it comes in a 25 ft roll which will last for quite some time when cutting it at 1½ inches at a time.

Here is the link to where you can buy a box  of “1 inch tubular elastic”  be sure to grab a box for your next trip and enjoy catching some nice catfish instead of wasting fishing time and always re-baiting a hook.

If you would like more information on catfishing you can visit my You Tube channel and see many of my catfishing How-to videos on my You Tube page at


Draggin the flats, a fall season tactic that pays big!

The drought conditions and lack of current the rivers in the south east has created a different environment for cat fishermen in this 2012 fishing season.

Current plays a big role in where the bait and catfish will be located but with the lack of current; the rivers become more like a lake and the bait and blue catfish will become scattered throughout the river system, constantly roaming the vast stretches and depths in search of food rather than congregating in key spots that otherwise the current may have produced.

catfishing tips

Anglers who can adapt to this lake like conditions on the rivers can still catch good catfish but they will need to change the way they approach the existing low water conditions and employ a different technique and rig.

When most catfish anglers think of catfishing, they think of a simple slip rig and anchoring up on a spot and waiting. This is a great technique when the bait and catfish are congregated on key spots because the current has put them there.

But in this low water condition we are facing now, it becomes more of a search method and to be successful, the bait is plentiful but also scattered throughout the system just as the catfish are, so you need to keep your baits in their faces and be on the move constantly because the blue catfish are doing that same exact thing.

They are roaming the still water in search of their next meal, and you have a better chance of running into an active fish that is searching for food when you’re on the move, rather than sitting on a spot waiting for one to finally run into your idle bait.

Dragging baits along the river bottom, searching for active bluecats is a very effective way to put catfish in the boat when other anglers are struggling in these low water conditions.

This technique works and has paid off very well for me this season, placing 3rd place in the Cabelas King Kat National Classic in Selma Alabama on the Alabama River in October.



This modified 3-way rig pulled along the contour of the bottom of a lake or reservoir with the use of a trolling motor, also some anglers who do not have a trolling motor will let the wind carry them over the contour. However I prefer the use of a trolling motor to precisely keep me in a good strike zone such as along ditches or drops and ledges.
3-way rig for catfishing

Items needed for the basic 3-Way rig

Keep in mind item specs listed below will change according to the size fish your ‘re targeting.
Example below is a good all around combination of tackle required. It’s what I use to target trophy size catfish but is also effective on smaller fish also.
65lb braided or mono main line. (I prefer braid)
3- Way swivel
50 lb mono Leader line
20 lb mono drop line
#8-10 Circle hook
Bank sinker
*(Santee option- 3 inch peg float)

Tip: Notice the break rating on the drop line is less than the mainline. This is one option you may want to take advantage of to save tackle and time when fishing with any 3-way combination. It’s called a sacrificial weight, meaning it will break before the mainline when hung up on structure, keeping the rest of your rig intact so all you have to do is retie the drop line and weight instead of the whole rig, this saves a lot of time and frustration.


One of my favorite types areas to look at first is, the flats, meaning the bottom contour has no special features, just a consistent depth and a flat bottom with little or no contour change.

The flats can come in many shapes and sizes, whether it’s a shallow point that extends out to the main channel in a lake or a muscle bed in thirty foot of water in a river. Although the flats are featureless with little or no structure, they do attract catfish because of a flats ability to produce large amounts of algae and other crustaceans and invertebrates, attracting the shad or baitfish to the area which feed on the algae in turn creating a buffet for the catfish and other species as well.


Once you determine where you will pull your drift, just throw your baited rig behind your boat at different lengths of main line and place your rod in your Monster Rod Holder and begin to. I normally sling my first rod out far behind my boat and the second one a little closer than the first and so on, keeping them staggered at different lengths.
3-way rig for catfishing

The idea here is to drag your baits along the contour of the bottom using your trolling motor. Although drifting with the wind will produce catfish, I prefer to control my (pull/drift) and target more precise contour structure, such as flats, humps and ledges. The drag speed will be determined by the catfishes activity level the size sinker you are using; the heavier it is the faster you can drag. After cold fronts and low activity levels I prefer to start with a 2 oz sinker and keep my speed at about .5 mph. but if the catfish are active I will use a larger sinker and speed my drift to about 1 to 1.5 mph.

Dragging your baits through a more likely lair will pay off more times than not, increasing your chances for a trophy catfish.
CAUTION- The Santee dragging rig is good method to search out feeding catfish, at the same time learning what your bottom contour is like and discovering new pieces of structure, however in the process you will get snagged and loose some rigs. (Don’t get discouraged), it just the way it is. I’ve fished places before where I’d lose 20 rigs a day and I’ve fished others and never gotten hung up. It is a proven fish catching rig.

This is also the rig and technique I used to place third, in the largest catfishing event in Kentucky this past October. The 3rd annual Monsters on the Ohio Catfish tournament will draw anglers from as many as 14 states from around the south east region to the Ohio River to compete for big bucks in Owensboro Kentucky.

And this method of dragging not only put me in the money in this event; it also enabled me to catch the biggest catfish of the tournament. Setting the new Monsters on the Ohio big fish record on biggest fish caught of 53lbs.
catfish tournament, Steve Douglas