Freshwater Fishing Bait

Best Natural Freshwater Fishing Baits That Really Work

There is a huge difference in using baits for saltwater and freshwater fishing. Both water conditions and the fishes in them will respond differently to the baits you use, especially those that release fish oils, strong fish scents, and dissolving aromas in the water.

There are also certain types of baits that work for both fishing formats, and there are the exclusive baits best used for freshwater fishing only. You can get several types of freshwater fish depending on the season and chosen locations, such as catfish, carp, black bass, striped bass, butterfly peacock bass, panfish, walleye, muskellunge, yellow perch, trout, salmon, crappie, bluegill, bream, tench, rudd, roach, European perch, barbel, and the popular pike.

To increase your success in getting any of these prized catches, we’re going to present a list of effective freshwater baits. Some of these are also used with success for seawater fishing. Onward to a fat catch this weekend!

Types of Live Freshwater Fishing Baits

  • Baitfish – There are a few types of this bait available, depending on how much your budget is and availability. Different types of baitfish will get you small to medium-sized fish. You can consider a variety of them among fishes like small anchovies, gudgeon, halfbeak, scad, and also bigger ones like flying fish, ladyfish, and menhaden which are usually reserved for larger seawater and some freshwater fishes as well.
  • Red worms – These types of bait worms are smaller than nightcrawlers and earthworms that are more suitable for bigger fish. Red worms are not only popular with birds but also mid-sized freshwater fish. Their movement is also an added plus in attracting more fish.
  • Mealworms – Mealworms are much smaller than nightcrawlers, red worms, grub worms, and caterpillars. They are perfect for smaller to medium-sized fish and are also attractive due to their movement, you have to use live worms like other baits listed here for maximised results.
  • Crayfish – Its two variations, the soft shell, and hard shell crayfish are both considered good bait. Live crayfish also have enough active movement to attract freshwater fishes. Softshell varieties can be a little pricey than the hard shell ones. But the hard shell version is more preferred due to holding onto the hook more.
  • Nightcrawlers – Some of the most common nightcrawlers are common earthworms, and also garden, grunt, and leaf worms. Since they are considered invasive creatures in many tree areas, plantations, or gardens, these worms are in-demand common bait. Their wriggling movements make them good attractive bait for most mid-sized fishes and both water types.
  • Fishbites – This bait is an artificial gel with the look and flexibility of fish fillets or other small pieces of seafood. Most fishbites are made of organic or biodegradable material and will not stink like fish bait. The bait dissolves in seawater with fish-attracting chemicals. This type of bait also holds on well for most fishing hooks.
  • Freshwater Mussels – These types of mussels are hunted for food and decorative use, but its meat is very useful for freshwater fishing too. Depending on locations, you’ll be able to harvest them easily for fishing use around many freshwater locations.
  • Fish Heads and Cut Pieces – Many fish parts to be thrown out after filleting can be used for effective freshwater bait. These pieces also hold well on hooks. The extra fish aroma of its insides is an extra attraction for most fishes as well. Some of the most common bait from leftover fish chunks, and other bits and pieces are any of alewives, anchovies, bluegill, buffalo, carp, drum, gar, gizzard shad, perch, smelt, and threadfin herring.
  • Small Critters and Insects – a liberal amount of beetles, bugs, caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, and even small roaches have met moderate success (and heavy eating) from fishes. They are common around freshwater areas, and dead or captured insects in the water are familiar to fishes as food.
  • Leeches – The movement of leeches and their similarity to nightcrawlers, caterpillars, and other worms make them equally responsive bait. They thrive on most types of freshwater environments and are popular affordable bait options, attracting mid-sized freshwater fish.
  • Boilies – Boilies are commercial or homemade boiled mixture baits made of bird food, dairy protein, eggs, fishmeal, and flour, with some scenting and attractive aromas added. These small balls release aromas in different available flavors in freshwater just like fishbites and they attract different freshwater fish as well.
  • Minnows and Pinkeens – These are smaller young freshwater fishes that are popular baits. Often they are used for mid-sized fishes. Pinkeens are the Irish version of minnows with a different body pattern.
  • Prawn and shrimp – Although expensive in other territories prawn and bigger shrimp are used as bait for bigger fishes. It can be used for both freshwater and saltwater fish. Their movements are also as active as worms and bigger to mid-sized bait. Prawn and shrimp can also be used frozen for fishing with the same success.
  • Frogs – Frogs are usually reserved for bigger fishes, and are also an effective bait. Small to medium-sized frogs are also easy to come by in many freshwater spots in certain seasons. You can catch smaller pools of frogs and use them to attract the bigger catch in deeper waters.
  • Salamanders – Many know these creatures as water dogs. The more common type of salamanders has a reputation for being good live bait, especially with bigger fish. While some concerns arose from dwindling numbers due to hunting for pets and bait a few years ago, their population has increased over the last few years. Eastern tiger salamanders, in particular, are popular species that went back into circulation.
  • Octopus and Squid – Fresh or live squid and octopus are also effective for bigger freshwater fish hunting. You can use smaller whole live squid or squid heads for medium to large-sized freshwater catch. For octopuses, they are chopped into smaller pieces for an easier rig and they can attract bigger fishes too. 
  • Trout or Salmon Roe
    While many eat these types of high gourmet roe, it is a rather expensive bait depending on your part of the world. But it has been proven to work on.