Channel cat expert offers tips to help anglers reel in more whiskered fish.
Story and Photography by Matt Williams
I’ve picked the brains of dozens of fishermen over the years. Chad Ferguson is certainly among the most knowledgeable when it comes to catching channel cat and blue cat with punch bait globbed around a treble hook.
Ferguson is a Ft. Worth-based fishing guide who has written books on the subject and even designed specialty rigs, rods and other catfish gear that he sells on his website, catfishedge.com.
Not surprisingly, his guide business specializes on putting clients on high quality catfishing experiences. Well known as great table fare, catching is the name of the game when it comes to channel cat and blue cat.
Ferguson spends a high percentage of his time on D/FW area lakes Worth, Eagle Mountain, Ray Roberts, Lewisville and Grapevine, but the punch bait tactics he employs can be applied on any impoundment with decent populations of the prolific game fish.
Punch bait is different from other popular catfish baits such as liver, shrimp, night crawlers and chicken hearts in that it is manufactured using a wide variety of recipes, usually founded on some sort of cheese base. Some anglers make their own, whereas others use punch baits manufactured by companies that cater largely to the catfish crowd. A common thread with punch baits is they all smell pretty bad, which naturally appeals to the channel cat’s keen sense of smell.
Baiting the hook with punch bait is a simple task. Use a screwdriver, stick or wooden spoon to punch the hook into the mush at a downward angle, then yank it back out the same way it went in to “set” the bait around the trebles. Alas, the name “punch bait.”