Get Your Stink On

Upstate Outdoors
August 09, 2019 - 5:34 pm

Phillip Gentry


Walk into any bait and tackle shop during warm weather and it’s pretty easy to tell where the catfish section is. Along with lots of hooks, weights and other terminal tackle, you’ll see rows of peanut butter sized jars and containers that contain substances that may look sort of like peanut butter, but smell like it went bad several weeks ago. Welcome to the stink bait aisle.

Using stink bait, or dips baits as they are commonly referred as, is not a new cat fishing tactic but seems to hit a peak in popularity during the summer months, owing in part to success stories quickly broadcast across the internet and social media.

“On many Upstate lakes like Greenwood, Hartwell, Keowee, and Wylie, when you use stink bait, you’re going to catch a boatload of pound to 3 pound channel catfish,” said catfish guide Chris Simpson. “But where ever you go, dip bait is the way to fish in the summer, channel cats are on the prowl and it’s real easy for them to smell this stuff.”

Simpson said the best way to target channel cats with dip baits is to find an open water area where deep water meets shallow. If the wind, waves, or current are pushing from shallow to deep, place the baits accordingly to call the cats in. 

To get the stink bait, which like peanut butter is designed to be very sticky, on the hook, it has to adhere to something. One of the simplest and easiest items is a small piece of swim noodle, the same thing the kids play with at the pool.

“Basically, I just anchor on humps and points, usually shallow water, from 5 to 20 foot,” said Simpson.  “The purpose of the noodle is just to hold the stink bait, the dip bait.  I rig a thumb-size piece of noodle on a Carolina rig, then drop the noodle in the bait bucket and spread it on with a spoon. That way you don’t have to touch the bait and get it all over you.”

Using light tackle in the 8 – 10 pound class will level the playing field for catfish up to 5 pounds, making for a great fight as well as good eating. However, Simpson said he rarely takes that chance because he has had some bruisers come calling.

“At times it might seem like overkill, but I usually use my regular 25 pound line class tackle when fishing with the dip baits.  You’ll have to sometimes muscle them out of brush, stuff like that,” said Simpson. “You can’t rule out the fact that you might catch a big channel catfish or even a big blue cat. The biggest blue I’ve ever caught on stink bait weighed 31 pounds.  It’s pretty rare, but every now and then, you may get a 20+ pound blue on so I want to be prepared.”

The guide also claims that the later into the summer it gets, the more the bite will shift into early and late in the day and often gets better after the sun goes down.

“As it gets on into August, when it starts to get real hot, nighttime fishing is usually a lot better than the daytime fishing,” said Simpson. “I’m still going to target the same areas, but maybe target a little bit deeper water- not so many fish will be in 5 feet when the water is 85 degrees.”

He said the best night time bite is often from right about dark until about midnight at which time everything kind of dozes off. Then the bite picks up again toward daylight, an hour or so before daylight and then into the daylight is when the best bite occurs.



Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. You can also stream the show live or on podcast at 




Photo Caption –Stink baits are just the ticket for catching stringers full of eating sized catfish during the summer. Photo by Phillip Gentry.



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