Live or Frozen Shrimp for Bait

The most popular bait used from Florida Shores is by far Shrimp. Live Shrimp can be found in just about any bait shop throughout the state and froze shrimp can be found in even more locations. But which option is better, frozen or live Shrimp?

Related: Keeping Shrimp Alive

Shrimp as Bait

Shrimp inhabit most coastal and inshore areas around the state in large numbers.  They are a primary food source for many fish, and a secondary food source for almost all others.  Just about every fish that is not a vegetarian (such as mullet) will eat shrimp.   Because Shrimp are so widely accepted as a meal by most fish, this makes them a popular bait choice.

Frozen Shrimp

The single most widely available bait in Florida is the Frozen Shrimp.   Many bait shops bag and freeze any shrimp that die in their live shrimp holding tanks at a discounted price.  Other frozen shrimp come strait from a distributor, these frozen shrimp range in quality from freshly frozen to shrimp that have been frozen and thawed many times (reducing the quality of the bait)

Pros of Frozen Shrimp

  • Widely available across the state  – Just about every bait shop across Florida sells frozen shrimp, as do many convince stores and even general stores near the coast.
  • Ease of transport – Frozen shrimp can be stored in a cooler, a tackle box, or just about any container.  When ready to use, just thaw it out in water!
  • Less costly than live shrimp –  The cost of frozen shrimp is quite a bit lower than the cost of live shrimp, in some cases less than half the cost.

Cons of Frozen Shrimp

  • No live action – A frozen shrimp will not attract fish that are keying in on the movements of their prey.
  • Attracts more bait thieves – Frozen Shrimp tend to attract the attention of bait thieves more than live.  These small fish can eat a frozen shrimp off a hook with out the angler knowing it was ever there.
  • Comes of Hook Easier – The freezing and thawing process softens the shell and meat of a shrimp, the softer shell and meat allows the bait to come off the hook easier.

Live Shrimp

The single bait that accounts for more game fish catches in Florida than any other is the Live Shrimp.   Live shrimp can be found almost all quality bait shops that are near the coast line.  They are of caught in the Gulf of Mexico and shipped across the state to be used as bait.

Pros of Live Shrimp

  • Available at most bait shops – Most quality bait shops will carry live shrimp, very high quality shops will carry a variety in size.
  • Motion and Noise attracts fish – The movement and noise caused by a live shrimp on a hook is very attractive to fish and can draw them in for quite a distance.
  • Not easily taken by small bait thieves – While all shrimp, alive or froze, are attractive to most fish, live shrimp are less likely to be taken by small bait thieves than frozen.

Cons of Live Shrimp

  • More Expensive than frozen shrimp – Live Shrimp can cost up to 3 times what frozen shrimp costs.
  • Can be difficult to keep alive – Live Shrimp require temperature regulated and aerated buckets or flow through bait buckets kept in the water.  (Learn how to Keep Live Shrimp Alive here)
  • Availability can be limited in cold weather – In the colder months bait shrimp will often dig under the sand and be hard to catch so their availability may be limited during cold spells.


Depending on the targeted fish, frozen shrimp can often times catch just as many fish as live shrimp.  With species like Whiting and Black Drum peeled frozen shrimp can sometimes out perform live shrimp.  When targeting sport fish, such as Redfish, Sea Trout or Snook live shrimp will always do better than frozen.

The choice between live shrimp and frozen shrimp is one that should be made based on intended target species. If targeting sport fish live shrimp will out perform frozen shrimp, targeting any other fish frozen shrimp will do well, and sometimes even better than live shrimp! 


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