My Grandfather’s workshop was an old garage converted into his mancave. However, mancaves for men around his age, which was around 78, were not the hypersensitive, carpeted, theater room you see on tv or in magazines; it looked more like a tornado just came through an abandoned warehouse.

This was very puzzling to me because in every other area of his life, he was VERY organized. I suppose it was the one place that he could just throw caution to the wind and if he cleaned, fine; if he did not clean, fine. It just didn’t matter.

You’d creek open the faded door and be hit with random tin cans, jars of mis-matched screws, hand tools from the middle ages and a seemingly endless assortment of oils, grease, carpenter pencils and more power tools than a Home Depot sidewalk sale.

DIY Catfish Bait

Basically, it was perfect.

The workshop was also where gramps created his famous catfish bait. This stuff had a smell so horrific; the aroma has been etched into the memories of everyone and anyone who purposefully or accidentally crossed paths with it (including a whole lot of catfish).

He called it “catfish cheese.” He’d often make a batch a year ahead of time so it had enough time and opportunity to “ripen.” Other fishermen were jealous, and locals would write songs about it – well, that is how I remember it anyway.

I remember this one time, he dropped a jar of it in the kitchen when walking through to the garage. The kitchen smelled worse than a papermill. Grandma nearly left him. His saving grace was the fact the bait worked and Grandma LOVED catfish. I should share her secret fried catfish recipe with you sometime.

Free Shirt

As far as the catfish cheese, it took years to finally get a hold of the recipe that has served my family so well, or horribly – depending on your perspective, for all these years. And, although he may be clucking his tongue from that sandy inlet in the sky as I offer it to the world, I wanted to share his recipe with you.

Papo’s Catfish Cheese

What you need:

1 Mason jar (an old Hellman’s jar works just fine)
1lb of cheddar cheese spread
8 oz. of beef blood
1 container of minced garlic
Sawdust
Sponge
Popsicle sticks
An out of the way place allow it to ripen

Directions:

Allow the cheese to come to room temperature or about 20-40 seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in direct sun

Mix the cheese, blood, and garlic into the jar and stir until combined well and there are no big chunks

Take the loose paste that you have just made and add some of the sawdust to thicken it

Add a small amount at a time to avoid any big clumps

You want to add enough sawdust to make it tacky, almost the consistency of thick oatmeal.
*If you add too much your bait will dry out and crumble; too little and it will wash off before you can land a fish

Once you have the right consistency, seal the cap on the jar and set it in an out of the way place (preferably one that gets a good amount of sunlight).

You will want to let it sit for a minimum of a week, but the longer the better. Some of his bait sat for three years before using it.

Allow the cheese to come to room temperature or about 20-40 seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in direct sun
Mix the cheese, blood, and garlic into the jar and stir until combined well and there are no big chunks
Take the loose paste that you have just made and add some of the sawdust to thicken it
Add a small amount at a time to avoid any big clumps
You want to add enough sawdust to make it tacky, almost the consistency of thick oatmeal. *If you add too much your bait will dry out and crumble; too little and it will wash off before you can land a fish
Once you have the right consistency, seal the cap on the jar and set it in an out of the way place (preferably one that gets a good amount of sunlight).
You will want to let it sit for a minimum of a week, but the longer the better. Some of his bait sat for three years before using it.

Using the Bait:

When it’s time to grab your tackle box and the catfish cheese, make sure you don’t forget the popsicle sticks and a sponge.

DIY Catfish BaitOnce at your favorite catfishing hole, cut your sponge into long, thin strips and then moisten them to make them more pliable.

Wrap the sponge around your hook,
a treble hook works best, making sure that the barbs on the hook catch the sponge so it will stick to the hook under water.

Use the popsicle stick to avoid getting the bait on your hands. Smear the bait on the sponge until it is saturated.

DIY Catfish BaitGently cast and allow the bait to get close to the bottom, but not to where it drags as this will pull the bait off the hook.

If you don’t feel any bites, pull the bait up about every hour or so and check the sponge, if it looks like most of the cheese has washed off of it, reapply and start over.

If you follow the above recipe, you should land more than enough catfish for a hearty meal. Maybe enough for your locals to write a few songs about you. Here’s to you Grampa!

Have you ever been lost in the fishing and found yourself stuck with a huge question? Want a pro answer? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!


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CONTRIBUTORS

Brent is a Sponsored Bass Angler from Murfreesboro, TN, where he is enjoying the single life of a tournament fisherman.

Brent is a Sponsored Bass Angler from Murfreesboro, TN, where he is enjoying the single life of a tournament fisherman.

Travis is a lifelong fishing enthusiast from the Gulf Coast of Texas. He specializes in salt water and coastal fishing.

Travis is a lifelong fishing enthusiast from the Gulf Coast of Texas. He specializes in salt water and coastal fishing.

Chef Bobby is a Chef and Cookbook Author. He loves to share his knowledge of cooking and handling of fish with our community.

Chef Bobby is a Chef and Cookbook Author. He loves to share his knowledge of cooking and handling of fish with our community.

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