Catfishing With Shrimp

Can you catch catfish using shrimp as a bait? Using shrimp for catfish bait is one of the best methods. However, it depends on several factors, like which catfish species you are looking for, and where you are fishing.

Over a couple of years shrimp for catfish bait has been a top-ranked choice by catfish anglers. However, it is very important to present shrimp correctly as a bait to increase your odds of success. With proper usage, you can add shrimp into your fishing arsenal as an effective and unique bait. 

Let’s look into the art of using shrimp as bait for catfish. 

Does Shrimp Catch Catfish?

If you are looking to catch channel cats and bullheads, shrimp is the best choice. They work great as dead or live bait. 

You can easily target yellow and brown bullheads with shrimp, bought from the grocery store. Furthermore, if you marinate these shrimps with garlic salt for a while, it will draw bullheads in a large number. 

In case you are targeting flatheads, baits other than shrimp will be more effective and may serve you better. Since flathead prefers living baitfish over dead items. Moreover, at times you may catch blue cats using shrimp but it is not an ideal bait for them.

Shrimp: One of the Best Baits for Catching Catfish

Shrimp as bait is easy and non-complicated to use, it works with high efficiency for catfishing. Thus, it ranks among the top ten catfishing baits.

To get maximum benefits from shrimp as bait, few timelines before use are very important. Like if you place them outside for 3-5 days and let them spoil, their special stink and scent will attract catfish in huge numbers.  


Overall, it is an amazingly versatile and exceptionally easy bait to work with. You must try it once before knocking it.    

Best Season to Use Shrimp

You can use shrimp round the year to catch catfish. However, the preferred time is summer. During this time period, these catfish are much more active in searching for food. Furthermore, the scent of shrimp can travel faster and far away in warm water.

While searching for food, these catfish travel a long distance to follow the scent of shrimp in summer. Finally, on their own, they will locate your bait. 

However, during winter you have to locate catfish first and then use bait around them.   Since during winter, the scent of the bait doesn’t travel too fast.


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Pros and Cons of Using Shrimp as Catfish Bait


Using shrimp as bait is a highly effective method for catching channel catfish. Also, it is super easy to use and is available in abundance at local stores. This makes it easy to find and purchase.

Furthermore, the shrimp rig setup is quite simple and straightforward.


Although shrimp acts as a great bait, it requires an almost 72-hour window before use to perform at its best. Also, it is costly when purchased from stores.

Lastly, shrimp baits are comparatively less effective in winters.

Method to Rig Shrimp for Catfishing

When you are rigging shrimp, the best approach is to remove its skin and tail. If you will not remove it, there will be fewer chances of shrimp returns. Also, with skin, the shrimp is likely to smell remarkably less under the water surface.

In general, there are two methods to hook shrimp as bait. Here are the steps you can follow to hook your shrimp accurately.

Hook Through the Head 

In this method, you start hooking the shrimp through the head with the pointed end coming out from the other side of the head. You don’t have to fix the shrimp all the way to the tail.

This method is more appropriate for bottom fishing. This allows the shrimp to sit properly and present as a proper bait for catfish on the bottom.

The problem is the shrimp can fall off quite easily compared to fixing the entire body of shrimp down towards the tail. 

Hook Through the Broken Tail

Well, this is the second method used to target cruising catfish or catfish not staying in the deep holes. In this process, you can use a different technique to slide the hook into the shrimp body.

First, snap off the tail of the shrimp. This action brings some extra scent and natural attraction into the water for channel catfish. Now you can place the hook through the rear of the shrimp with the pointed end making an exit at the mid-torso.

This method offers a few distinct benefits to your catfishing game. Let’s look into the advantages of using this rig and hooking method for shrimp. 

Firstly, shrimp being hooked from the rear to the mid-torso offers a free shrimp head. Therefore, it helps to keep the momentum by applying head weight in the moving direction and the shrimp moves further smoothly. 

Secondly, the removed tail provides scent and stinks into the water. This natural smell makes bait a little more attractive and irresistible for channel catfish.


Thirdly, you have fewer chances to lose the bait, since you fixed the hook across the maximum portion of the body of shrimp.

How to Use Shrimp as Bait for Catfish

Depending on a few timeline factors or how much time you can spare before a fishing trip, there are simple steps to ensure maximum benefits from shrimp as catfish bait.


You can use both thawed and frozen shrimp to catch catfish. But the best way to use shrimp is to give it time to rot away outside or in the sun for 3-5 days before use.

This spoiled shrimp will be horribly stinky after 3- 5 days and your neighbor might have some concerns. So, don’t try it inside your home; otherwise, it would be difficult to get rid of this smell for some time. While placing shrimp outside in the yard, ensure protection from rodents and wildlife.

Live Shrimp as Bait

Live shrimp is also one of the options as bait. They are mostly preferred by the catfish anglers who opt live bait or nothing else. 

However, you will hardly notice any difference. So why put in so much effort to keep live shrimp as bait.

Shrimp From a Bait Store

You can buy frozen and thawed shrimp from the store. It’s quite easy for you to buy shrimp from the bait store and it will serve you equally good. Its available in-store in huge quantities and quality is also fine.

The only drawback to buying shrimp from the store is the high cost. However, in comparison the

overall success rates of catching more catfish, in general, will be much higher.

Eating Shrimp vs Freshwater Shrimp

If freshwater shrimp are available in your state, definitely use them. Catfish love feeding fresh bait than the store-bought stuff. 

Frozen or thawed shrimp marinated with garlic work great, but if you have to choose between fresh and stored shrimp, go for fresh ones.

Shrimp vs Live Bait

In comparison to shrimp with live bait. Catfish love feeding on live bait and prefer natural baits they eat daily. Live bait includes shad, bluegill, shiners, clams, and suckers as well as some vegetation.

How is a Cooked Shrimp as Catfish Bait?

Many anglers prefer cooked shrimp. At times it serves the purpose but raw shrimp due to its smell into the water is far more effective.


If recently you faced some rough time out there trying to catch channel catfish with rotten shrimp, take a break. While you are on a cold streak here than try luck with cooked shrimp.

Mixing things up can bring luck. If you don’t try, you don’t know. And once you try you have data and experience to share with others.

Garlic Shrimp as Catfish Bait

Do you think that shrimp with added garlic is more effective? Any additional thing to stink up bait is always good. Since it draws catfish attention and helps you to locate and catch it easily. 

Thus, marinated shrimp with extra flavor is an ideal bait. But if you are facing time constraints then simple shrimp is going to get the job done as well. 

Finally, the choice is yours.

Final Thought

When it comes to catfish bait, there is a huge variety available to choose from. However, many baits are just to attract anglers. 

If you already have a preferred and tested bait, stick to it. Otherwise for beginner catfish angler, shrimp as bait is the best choice.

If you don’t have access to freshwater shrimp then you can always buy it from the store nearby. Once you get it, let it rot and spoil outside for 3-5 days before use. 

Because once rotten, its stink makes it much more attractive. This especially helps when you are trying to hook some nice channel catfish.

Whether you use shrimp from a grocery store or catch some freshwater shrimp from the stream, with proper hooking arrangement, you can catch plenty of bullheads and channel catfish. 

Hence, shrimp, if properly used, falls into the list of top ten catfishing baits.