During the summer months, DFG and county stock catfish in local lakes. With loose/leader hooks, I found that the cats can mouth the bait, occationally strip it off the hook, and not even wiggle the pole end.
We've had the best luck with drop-shot rigging, using marinated shrimp as bait. As soon as the cat tastes the shrimp, either way his head turns he's hooked. And the drop-shot rig keeps the bait out of the mud, but still in the cat's cruzing zone. Next summer I'm going to try 2 or 3 baited hooks, in drop-shot rig. Selected #2 size hooks with long-shank and palamar knot.
We typically marinate raw shrimp in diced/crushed garlic for 1-2 days. Only use enough shrimp to just cover the hook.