Panfish Can’t Steal Chena Bait

By Louie Stout

Panfish can’t steal Chena Bait

” href=”” target=”_blank” title=”Panfish can’t steal Chena Bait”>Panfish can’t steal Chena BaitFishing fever is in epidemic proportions around Michiana these days, so when Jon Howard offered a temporary cure, I couldn’t resist.

“I’ve discovered an interesting bait that worked really well on bluegills and crappies this week,” he said during a phone call last week. “Wanna see it in action?”

I jumped at the chance, so last Sunday we met on the back end of a manmade channel on the St. Joseph River. When we walked up to the bank (he had permission to fish there), dozens of panfish could be seen swimming just beneath the surface.

Jon handed me his pre-rigged, 7-foot Eagle Claw light-action rod with 4-pound Berkley Fireline braid. A chartreuse bobber was attached about 8 inches above a tiny ice fishing jig.

“You need this light action and small line for fishing these little baits,” he explained.

It’s a typical rig for spring fishing. Most anglers tip the jig with a maggot or some sort, but Howard had a better idea.

Chena Bait.

“I saw this used on a TV fishing show and ordered it,” Howard said. “I fished it last week and it worked as well if not better than livebait.”

Chena Bait comes in a small roll about 1-inch long and is packaged in a small, plastic case. Per instructions, Howard sliced the roll with a razor blade into 1/16-inch chunks, then unraveled each chunk and cut it into a half-inch long strip. When the strip is stuck on the hook and placed in water, it softens rapidly. The bait simply trails behind the jig like a wax worm but does have some swimming action.

The results were impressive.

We either had bites or caught fish on our first five casts. Many of the strikes occurred shortly after the bait hit the water. If not, a few twitches or pulls on the rod tip was all it took.

“There is some kind of fish attractant soaked into the material, and I really don’t know what the material is,” Howard explained. “All I know is that they bite it and it saves me from having to re-bait with livebait.”

It sure did. I caught at least 10-20 bluegills, crappies and rock bass and had numerous bites before the Chena Bait finally wore off. The bobber rarely sat still.

After it’s been fished awhile, the tiny bait strip turns into a slimy like substance but stays on the hook extremely well.

We experimented with livebait, too. I rigged the same jig with meal worms and continued to catch fish, but had to constantly re-bait the hook. I eventually went back to the Chena Bait to solve the problem and frankly, caught bigger fish.

Chena Bait will lose some of its scent attraction after a while, but an occasional squirt of some type of liquid after-market attractant might be the ticket to revive it. We did notice that when the bites slowed down, a fresh chunk of Chena got the fish going again.

We had to sort through several smaller fish, but after two hours of fishing, we had 30 nice bluegills and crappies ready to be filleted. They were still biting when we left.

“There’s no doubt that this would work in the summer when the panfish are on the outside weed edges,” Howard insisted. “And I know it would be deadly on the back of sinking fly, like the black Ant that people use during the pre-spawn when the fish are starting to bed. It stays on the hook so well, it would save you time from having to bait with wax worms.”

Chena Bait sells for $4.60 and comes with a tiny jig hook, although our teardrop ice jigs worked well. You can find it online at or call the Wisconsin company, 920-398-3791.


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