Bait fish are small fish caught for use as bait to attract large predatory fish, particularly game fish. Species used are typically those that are common and breed rapidly, making them easy to catch and in regular supply. Examples of marine bait fish are anchovies, gudgeon, halfbeaks such as ballyhoo, and scad.
When people think of fishing, they often think of worms. Worms make great bait, but they are gooey and slimy and, some people think, rather disgusting. What a lot of people don’t know is that you don’t need to use worms to fish. There are lots of other bait options to consider, many in your own kitchen.
What can I use as fish bait?
- Attach bits of bread, chicken, fish, corn, cheese, hot dogs, or raw bacon to your hook. For catching catfish, use smelly foods in a cheesecloth or a sealed container with holes in it. (This is for when you are fishing in shallow waters without a fishing rod.) The only kind of food you need to be careful to not fish with is trout and salmon, as they can promote the spread of what’s called “whirling disease,” which is a type of parasite that can kill a lot of fish.
- Use cereal flakes. Simply crush them, add water and make into little balls. Then you fit them around the hook. Wheaties work well (called Wheatie balls). You can also use red soda instead of water, as it attracts the fish more.
Make a lure using digestive biscuits and smelly food. The biscuits are usually sold in any shop or supermarket. Also pick up the smelly bait, for example, maggots or chicken liver. Crush the biscuits into crumbles. Put the crumbles in a bucket or bowl. Add the other baits.
Use canned corn as bait. Because it works as well as live bait but without the mess, it’s a time-tested favorite among fishermen. Simply thread as many kernels that you get onto the hook. Throw your line out, and prepare to catch a small-mouthed fish, like bream, as soon as it hits the water.
- Fish with turkey livers. Chicken livers are one of the most popular bait choices for new catfish anglers, but they tend to be a little more popular than they should be. They will catch some fish but the hassle of using them is often not worth the return. Turkey livers, on the other hand, catch more fish than chicken livers and are much tougher, so they are a lot less hassle to work with.
Knowing Your Fishing Conditions
Know what type of fish you are trying to catch. Every type of fish has its own feeding habits and preferred prey. Determining each will help you construct the perfect lure. Worms are usually effective for any type of freshwater fishing so creating a lure that has certain worm characteristics can be very beneficial.
Be sure you are allowed to use your bait in your fishing area. There may be some fishing restrictions on bait or lures as warm water lakes can prohibit the use or release of baitfish. It is always best to check local fishing regulations.
- Warm water fish are usually surface feeders in high summer temperatures and bottom feeders in the fall. So choose baits accordingly.
Using Native Prey
- Attach small grasshoppers or crickets to your hook. Whether you catch them yourself or buy them at the bait shop, these are a safe bet to catch freshwater fish bream. To bait, hook them through the back. Then fish with the bait suspended a couple of feet below a bobber.
- Fish with grass shrimp, snails, leeches and other aquatic invertebrates. These are great bait for walleye, sauger, panfish, sunfish, and trout. It’s best to find them from the area where you are fishing because they are more likely to recognize and attack them.
- Entice catfish using shrimp. Most people buy “bait shrimp” from bait stores. But it’s better to purchase regular, whole shrimp at the grocery store and then cut them into small pieces. You’ll have a higher-quality bait that will catch more catfish, and, if you do the math, it ends up being cheaper. You can also try our Electronic Shrimp Lure.
- Bait with crawfish. This makes terrific bait for all types of waterways and fish including bass, walleye, catfish and large trout. If they are dead, pinch the head off, and string the body on the hook by inserting it under the tail and impaling as much of it as possible. If they are alive, the crawfish can be hooked through the base of their tail from the bottom up.
Using Artificial Bait
- Match the hatch. Basically, what this phrase means is that you use bait that either the fish are already feeding on or that mimics what they are eating. Actually, regardless of the species, if you use this concept you will catch more fish. When it comes to catfish, they feed on all kinds of food, not just stinky bait as is commonly thought.
- Entice fish with artificial lures. Spoons, many jigs, tiny spinners and other small, lifelike, plastic lures will work when fishing for bream or bass. Make sure the artificial lure mimics the movements of the fish’s natural prey. Form the lures around a hook at a size that accommodates their mouth.
- Try a variety of bait for bream. Bream, also known as sunfish, panfish and brim, are not particular when it comes to feeding. They are also relatively easy to catch, no matter what the bait is. Whatever you choose, though, make sure it’s small enough to fit into the bream’s notoriously tiny mouth.
- Use sponge bait and dip bait for catching catfish. You can get them online by a variety of colorful names, at a bait shop or sporting goods store, or you can make them. All sponge and dip baits share a common factor and that is they stink. They are usually made with at least two extremely stinky and foul ingredients such as blood and guts of some form, like chicken livers or the innards of another kind of fish.