In regard to links throughout this Site, you may see a word that is underlined but NOT highlighted blue like a link, It IS a link and these are words that can be found in our Dictionary. In case you're unfamiliar with some of the fishing lingo.
It's just the first thing that comes to anyone's head when it comes to fishing - that is live bait. Usually it's a worm that comes first to anyone's mind. I don't think there is a kid around that hasn't started off fishing with using a worm. It's just common sense. Fish in their natural habitat eat insects or worms; or smaller fish!
live bait works, many times when nothing else will.
Most people simply overlook the fact that with live bait fishing, just as with any other technique, there is a lot to learn. The anglers who know this, and who put in the time and work required, will always be the ones who excel.
With all of the innovative and high tech features that artificial lures currently have, fishing with live bait still produces over 50% of freshwater game fish caught in North America. Depending on the time of the year and water temperatures or when fishing slows down live bait is definitely the preferred choice for a successful catch.
live bait is purchased at bait shops, a local Sport Shop or you can
purchase live bait at Our FUNdamentals
of Fishing Bait Shop.
There are a number of living creatures that many fish like to eat. For most fish, the best all-around baits are nightcrawlers or worms. They can be used to catch almost any type of fish.
Other live bait can include leeches, minnows, crayfish, crickets and grasshoppers.
the cost of losing one worm to losing a lure and you'll see that
fishing with live bait can be less expensive than fishing with lures;
and if you find your own live bait, you can save even more money.
Which bait should you use? To make your selection easier, know the type of fish you are after. There are some species which eat certain Fishing Baits. Use the appropriate Fishing Bait and you can be on your way to a nice catch.
match the size of the hook to the size of the bait - Not the size of
fish you hope to catch. The
bait that you'll be using should be able to blend well (as not to
look suspicious) with the fish hook.
are by far the most thought of bait when it comes to fishing.
fishermen opt to use worms as baits as they are cheap as well as
easy to find on your own.
are several kinds of Worms meant for fishing - red worms, garden
worms, and night crawlers.
crawlers are sold at all bait shops, some gas stations and sporting
goods section at discount stores.
Earthworms, along with crickets, and minnows are a staple of most bait stores. They're fairly easy to keep in big tanks or cages and suppliers usually visit these stores at least weekly. Make sure you purchase enough bait for the day. It's better to have some left over than to run out when the fish are biting.
buying earthworms, ask to see them. There's usually a box where the
container can be dumped so you can see the number as well as the
health of the bait you are buying.
What Fish Eats Worms
are more or less the favorite food of most fish. You can catch
Bass and Small-mouth
just about any freshwater fish.
Also known as leaf worms, garden worms, red wigglers or earth worm; the fact of the matter is that this is great bait for fishing. Red worms look similar to nightcrawlers, but they are smaller and skinnier. Red Worms are dark red in color and they can grow up to three inches long. These Worms can be used in Fishing on clear water.
The most obvious reason for using red worms is many fish have small mouths. Examples are trout under 14", panfish of all sizes, and suckers (yes, even the two-footers).
Red worms are mostly used to catch perch, bluegill, rock bass, trout and other panfish. When fishing for panfish, red worms usually work better because of their size. A bluegill can easily get a red worm into their mouth which gives you a good chance of setting the hook and landing the fish. Red worms can be found in most places that sell nightcrawlers - bait shops, gas stations and super markets.
Red Worms are also great fish bait because they stay alive for as long as 45 minutes in water and have a tough skin that keeps them on the hook, making it easier to hook a fish.
Another reason to opt for red worms in many situations is their scent. Red worms are NOT small night crawlers. They are a completely different species, called stinkies or manure worms in some areas. A red worm smells rank and a lot of fish seek food with their sense of smell.
They are usually found in organic matter such as aged manures and heaps of compost. If you are less sensitive, go to a horse stable with a pile of manure. Put some manure with red worms in a bag.
Fish Eats Red Worms
Range from three to five inches long. They are available at any bait shop or you can simply look for these Worms in your own garden, or some place that has soft, loamy ground. Using a shovel or garden fork, dig around a foot down. Slowly break up the clods of soil while you search for garden worms.
See also Worm charming below
Night Crawlers are much sought after for fishing bait.
crawlers can be used in many different ways such as the whole worm,
half pieces, floating or following behind a flasher. The night
crawler can be used to catch a variety of fish including bass, trout,
catfish, strippers, crappie and bluegill - making it the simplest yet
effective live best bait for fishing in fresh water. With a night
crawler you have the chance of catching a 2oz bluegill to a 10lb bass.
you're night crawler hunting the best time is evening after a hard
spring or summer rain, it can be as simple as picking them off the
street, especially the ones that have low curbs with grass parkways,
darker streets are more productive than well lit ones as they are
light sensitive. Searching in grass under leaves and rocks where the
soil is moist use a flashlight and be sure to cover the lens of your
flashlight with a thin cloth, or something else that can make the
light dim. A red plastic covering over your flashlight is the best
solution! I don't know if they can feel white light or what but if
you shine a flashlight directly on a night crawler they will slide
very quickly back into their hole. Night crawler picking is fun on a
warm summer evening after a rain, just bring a container and get
plenty of bait for free.
your worms in a large container filled with soft earth or compost. Several
commercially available Styrofoam containers and kits are available
to store worms. You can purchase one here.
fish eat smaller fish. Sensibly enough, you can use small fish as
Fishing Baits. These Fishing Baits are called Minnows.
Live minnows are so effective that some states have laws against using them. Check your States Rules and regulations here. The good news is that dead minnows can often be almost as effective, when fished the right way. In some cases, a dead minnow lying on the bottom can work better than a live one swimming actively above the bottom.
Freshwater shiner minnows are a common species that most fish will readily hit. They're usually small but can grow up to a foot long. Crappie love them when they're about two inches long and a largemouth bass will go crazy over a six-to-eight inch shiner. Some others include fathead minnows, spottail minnows, chubs, suckers, and sculpin.
Minnows, along with earthworms, and crickets are a staple of most bait stores. They're fairly easy to keep in big tanks or cages and suppliers usually visit these stores at least weekly. Make sure you purchase enough bait for the day. It's better to have some left over than to run out when the fish are biting.
minnows make sure they're swimming actively in the bucket and not
lying dead on the bottom. They're usually counted out and sold by the dozen.
There are also preserved minnows that can be bought. See here
They are a small fish that's fairly active in the water. It takes a little bit more work to keep them alive and healthy, but they can produce very good results in a bass or trout filled pond. It may take some more patience, but if you can find where the larger fish are you will be in for a real treat.
You can fish minnows just about any old way you want and still catch fish on them. While they are not idiot proof, you can almost always catch something on them, no matter how poorly you rig them and fish them. But, there are a lot of refinements in fishing minnows that can greatly increase both the number of bites and the quality of the fish you catch. And, you can fish them in a whole bunch of different ways.
people along with some websites will encourage the use of trapping
minnows using a minnow trap or seining with the use of a seine net.
If you do plan to pursue in one of those techniques I would advise
that you familiarize yourself with Your State Fishing Laws by
It's more than likely illegal.
here to see how to hook Minnows
What Fish Eat Minnows
Just about any of 'em!
Minnows are considered the best bait for fishing Crappie.
Efficient, durable and easy to operate. Black vinyl coating blends in with underwater colors, providing superb camouflage. 1/4" mesh.
traps are designed to be submerged, and be attached to the dock or
some other form of structure. The purpose of the trap is to
catch minnows. We've found, if you cover the ends of the trap
and put your minnows in the trap, they store just fine. Each
morning, simply raise the trap, take the amount of minnows you'll
need and put them in the minnow bucket (be sure to put water in the
bucket first), secure the minnow trap, and put it back in the water.
If you have dead or leftover minnows . . .
DO NOT LET THEM GO INTO THE LAKE YOU ARE FISHING.
It could end up that you are spreading diseases or allowing an invasive species into an ecosystem by releasing them.
The word cut bait covers a wide variety of fish baits.
bait can be referred to cutting up bait fish into small portions to
fit on your hook.
you decide to use cut bait, Check with your State's
Rules and Regulations to be sure cutbait is legal.
How to Get and Use Cutbait
you have to catch a fish or as a last resort, buy one from a tackle
store. I advise against buying frozen fish for use as cut bait.
Freshness is critically important.
you have a fish to use, scale the fish and fillet it.
also known as crawdads or crawfish, are one of the most versatile
Fishing Baits for all game fish. They are small crustaceans
resembling little lobsters and usually live in cold water ponds,
streams, and lakes.
Crayfish are not that available, as compared to Minnows and Worms. If you will collect Crayfish, try searching on nearby lakes and brooks at night. Be careful picking up Crayfish as they have pincers, be sure to hold it around the middle of its body.
Though Crayfish seem tougher than Minnows, Crayfish also need cool water and adequate ventilation. Maintain a cool and well-aerated environment for your Crayfish. Place them in a large container with some rocks, gravel, and adequate amount of weeds from the lake.
What Fish Eat Crayfish
Crayfish are a main food source for fish such as smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, catfish and large trout.
Bass love to eat crayfish.
clams or mussels are native to your area, you can use them as bait.
Gather the mussels and clams from shallow waters before or while you
are fishing. Crack the shell to open, cut out the clam or mussel, and
allow the bait to harden in the sun slightly to help keep it on the
hook. To keep the bait as fresh as possible, open the clams or
mussels as you use them and only when you need new bait.
not as popular, frogs can be great bait for both bass and walleye.
Leopard frogs are the most common and easily found bait for those
looking to use them.
transportation of fish from one location to another can break the law
and cause the introduction of fish alien to the ecosystem.
Insects such as ants, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, etc., are ideal for panfish, sunfish and trout. You can buy crickets at almost any bait shop and some Walmarts or where aquarium fish are sold.
Crickets, along with earthworms, and minnows are a staple of most bait stores. They're fairly easy to keep in big tanks or cages and suppliers usually visit these stores at least weekly. Make sure you purchase enough bait for the day. It's better to have some left over than to run out when the fish are biting.
If buying crickets, look for lively, active crickets that climb on the container. Make sure there are no dead ones in the bottom. Crickets are measured by volume rather than counted and you don't want to pay for a lot of dead ones.
Crickets and Grasshoppers are also good hot weather Fishing Baits. These insects usually find shelter near the banks. When the wind gets up and they lose their balance, they will fall into the water and the water current will carry them away. Some fish know this so they stay near the spot for a regular food supply. Trout, crappie, bluegill, smallmouth bass and other species eat these insects which naturally go down in the water.
you decide to collect Crickets and Grasshoppers, go to grass fields
in early morning. Crickets and Grasshoppers are less prone to hopping
from place to place on a dew-filled morning. More often than not, you
can see them in places with bushes in which they can cling on the
stems. You can also catch them at night under lights.
To keep crickets and grasshoppers for weeks, feed them a few vegetable scraps, moistened to provide water.
the Crickets and Grasshoppers in a container with lid is good, but
there is a likely chance that one or two of your insects will hop out
of your container once you take the lid off to get one Cricket or
Grasshopper. Find something else in which your hand fits exactly to
the opening, such as a used sock or stocking. When you need a Fishing
Bait, put your hand inside the sock or stocking and get one. In this
case, there is very little possibility that one of your Fishing Baits
will come out.
What Fish eat Insects?
all fish will go after crickets and grasshoppers.
is a common fact that leeches are true-blue bloodsuckers. However,
they are also good Fishing Baits for so many different species. They
work well for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern
pike and panfish.
are almost always bought from bait stores.
The summer is the best time to fish with leeches; by mid-summer most of the adult leeches have deposited cocoons and die off. Also, in the summer time the leech will wiggle more below a bobber than a worm. When drifting or trolling, anglers will catch suspended walleyes on floating jigheads and slip sinker rigs.
tend to work much better once the water warms above 55 degrees. When
it's colder, the leeches may curl up into a ball and just stay there.
When the water warms above 55 degrees, leeches become much livelier,
which draws strikes from a variety of different fish.
are the larvae of dobsonfly. They can grow up to four inches and
they usually live in cold water lakes and streams. Like an insect, a
hellgrammite has three pairs of legs and appendages located on its
sectioned body. These water creatures are good choice in Fishing for
trout and bass living in rivers. Keep hellgrammites in screened boxes
with three or four inches of mud. Submerge these boxes on water that
has the same temperature to the place where these larvae came from.
Mealworms and Grubs
of some insects work well as Fishing Baits. Mealworms and grubs,
which grow to the maximum of an inch, are good Fishing Baits if you
are after species of trout, sunfish and panfish. Mealworms and grubs
are cheap and keeping them does not entail too much work. Just store
them in a cold place and they will still be useful even after a long time.
You can harvest grubs from the soil and from unusual swellings and deformities galls that you find on the leaves and twigs of trees and plants.
Known as the perfect fishing bait by many anglers.
These small, wriggling little creatures are ideal for use as bait because they are cheap, in plentiful supply, they are easy to hook and the fish absolutely love them. Why? Because they are packed to the brim with protein.
They are suitable for year round use and suitable for all venues, from the most powerful rivers through to the most idyllic farm ponds.
are sold by the pint in most tackle shops.
What fish like maggots?
anything that swims!
How To Use Maggots
can fish maggots on the bottom of the river, lake or canal. You can
even fish maggots on the surface and at any depth in between.
can all be gathered for free.
Other Natural Baits
For bottom-feeding fish like carp and catfish, bread, small pieces of cheese, and canned corn are good.
natural baits include marshmallows (for some
reason certain types of fish like them!), salmon eggs, cheese,
dough balls, smoked salmon, bologna, salami, green peas. Cheese,
just about any kind of cheese will catch catfish but orange cheeses
like cheddar or American work particularly well.
Liver or Chicken Liver?
Target edges or drop-offs during the day and mid-deep water at night. Older channel catfish actively feed on live prey and are less likely to consume chicken livers. Smaller catfish in the 1- to 3-lb. range will readily feed on livers.
problem with chicken livers is keeping them on the hook but if you
cover them with garlic salt and dry them in the sun for 3 or 4 hours
they will toughen up quite a bit and the garlic salt seems to make
the cats like them even better.
of these items can be found in your pantry or grocery store.
Bread is a popular bait for carp and catfish. Most anglers will use bread as a way of chumming, which means putting some bait in the water to draw fish to your area. Chumming with bread will draw catfish and carp into the area and hopefully they will stay long enough to take your bait. Using bread alone on a hook is difficult because it falls off easily, but there are many fishermen that use bread and have very good results. If you chum in the same spot consistently for a few weeks, some fish will know to come back there for feeding time. Once you get fish accustomed to a certain area for feeding, you can just throw enough bread in the water to get them excited. Don't throw a ton of bread in the water, just enough to get them excited. Get your baits out where the fish are and you should have some success.
sure to check
the fishing regulations in your area as chumming is illegal in
Stinkbaits or Doughballs
doughball is just what it sounds like, a little ball of dough.
on the other hand is as the name implies, stinkbaits are mixture of
ball of dough and some food spices and different ingredients which
have odors that can attract certain fish species. These substances
can be animal blood, cheese, or garlic. Stinkbaits are widely used as
baits for carp and catfish.
How To Make Stinkbait or Doughballs
To make your own dough balls, stir up a doughy mix of hot water and flour or cornmeal and add a favorite flavoring. Some favorite scents for all fish include garlic, licorice, anise, and strawberry gelatin. Gradually add water to the mixture and wait for the right consistency that will allow you to make small, tight balls from the mixture. Store in the refrigerator until used. If you only need a small amount of dough or are short of time, use soft white bread and squeeze it into a doughy mass.
You can use these formed dough balls by taking the shape of your Fish Hook. Sooner or later, the carp or catfish will smell that distinctive odor and it will swim his way towards the Fishing Bait.
To make your own stink bait, take a look at how to make dough balls and then start adding ingredients that give it a distinct or even awful smell. Many anglers believe the stronger the better. By stronger, we mean that the smell is so bad that you don't even want to touch your own bait.
can find some additional Homemade Doughball and Stinkbait Recipes here.
Preserved Fishing Baits
Perhaps where you plan to fish, there are no Bait Shops and you are not one to be wandering around in fields and woods on your hands and knees looking for bait.
are a lot of preserved Fishing Baits that are commercially available.
Salmon Eggs are preserved in small bottles and can be plain, colored, and/or scented. They are well-liked Fishing Baits for fishing trout.
you want to use salmon eggs for Fishing, you will need a Salmon
Egg Fish Hook.
Minnows are available at numerous tackle shops and since they are
already lifeless, preserved minnows are good choice for trouble-free
handling and easy storage compared to live minnows. They can be
freeze-dried, frozen, or placed on jars. In using preserved minnows,
you must hook them in the lips. Attach weight to your Fishing Line.
After minutes or so, pull it up slowly.
Pork strips are marinated tough skin strips that come in different sizes and shapes, and also available in different shades of colors. Some makers of pork rinds can make these Fishing Baits look like real living water creatures, so the fish you are after will eat them. These Fishing Baits are used when fishing for pike, pickerel, and some bass species. To a degree, the use of pork rinds as Fishing Baits is a practical thing, since the pork rinds are tough, they can be used again and again for the next Fishing trip.
Fish Scents are not Fishing Baits, however they are made to put odor to various Fishing Baits and Fishing Lures. Fish scents are made from different ingredients that are believed to attract fish. There is a presumption that your worm, when smeared or sprayed with a fish scent, will be eaten by a fish faster than a worm without scent. This can work to a certain degree, but since the Fishing Bait is under the water, the odor will probably wear off after a considerable amount of time.
The more natural the bait the better.
However, sometimes the fish are not actively feeding. These times call for lures that will cause the fish to "strike" just out of instinct. Some flashy lures (spoons, jigs, spinner baits, and crank baits) are designed to make fish bite even when they're not feeding, due to sound, motion, and color.
Lures and Artificial Bait on the next page.
Be sure to Visit Our FUNdamentals of Fishing Bait Shop
any hints, suggestions, techniques or anything that you would like to share
have me put onto this web page,
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