You’re gearing up for an upcoming fishing trip. You’ve picked the perfect spot, have all of your permits and documentation in order, have mastered the art of tying fishing knots, and have cleaned and maintained fishing poles, lines, and hooks. All that’s left to do is choose your fishing bait and embark on your adventure.
Choosing bait may seem like a simple act, but a lot goes into the process. Selecting the wrong bait could result in a disappointing experience. While choosing bait may not be as simple as grabbing the first thing that’s available to you, it doesn’t have to be rocket science, either. This article is chock-full of tips and considerations to help you choose the best bait for your situation and increase your chances of catching some fish.
Consider Your Choices of Fishing Bait
Before exploring best practices for selecting bait, it is important to know the choices that are out there. Each type of bait has unique features that may appeal to certain species of fish.
Live bait is pretty straightforward. It is anything that is alive and moving. The strongest features of live bait are its scent and movement. It is most effective in murky waters and on prey with a heightened sense of sight and smell. Using it mimics typical feeding conditions of most fish. This bait is often composed of living creatures that can include:
- Insects such as worms, crickets, and grasshoppers
- Minnows and other small fish
- Crabs, shrimp, and other shellfish
Dead bait is anything that is no longer alive, and it is most effective when freshly dead and bloody. The strongest feature of this bait is its scent. Like live bait, it is effective in murky waters with fish that rely heavily on their sense of smell to hunt. Dead bait can include:
- Dead insects.
- Strips of fish
- Chunks of squid
- Bloody pieces of meat thrown into the water (chum)
Artificial fishing bait involves manufactured objects that mimic the colors and movement of living creatures. The strongest feature of this bait is its versatility of color and size. It is most effective in clear waters and on fish that primarily rely on sight to hunt. Spinners, poppers, jiggs, and flies are commonly used as artificial bait.
Grocery bait is composed of foodstuffs that can easily be obtained at a grocery store. The strongest features of this bait are its color, scent, and versatility. Grocery baits are most effective in clear water. Some baits have bright colors while others may give off strong scents. This means they can be used to catch fish that hunt with sight and smell. Any food item can technically be considered grocery bait, but hot dogs, corn, and spam are commonly used.
Consider Your Resources for Obtaining and Maintaining Fishing Bait
When selecting the appropriate fishing bait for your trip, you need to take stock of the resources you have at hand. If you’re leaning towards live bait, you need to take measures to keep it alive. This may require special equipment or techniques. For those who are packing light, get a little squeamish around wriggling things, or just don’t have the time or money to obtain live bait, other options may fit you better.
Grocery bait is possibly the easiest to obtain because you most likely have something usable in your fridge or cabinet. Artificial bait can be expensive at the outset, but you can reuse it. If maintained appropriately, artificial bait can last for years. Dead bait is easier to carry around than live bait but requires money or effort depending on whether you buy it or obtain it yourself.
In addition to time and money, skill level is also a resource. If you are a first-time fisher, catching and maintaining live or dead bait may be foreign to you. If you are a long-time fisher, you may be looking for a specific challenge that artificial baits provide. Your level of skill and your expectations for the trip are vital determining factors in selecting fishing bait.
Consider Your Location When Using Fishing Bait
It may sound cliché, but as with real estate, location, location, location is key to choosing your bait. You won’t have much luck catching a freshwater fish with ocean crabs.
Take into account the type of water you’re fishing in as well as the conditions. If you’re fishing in murky sea water, live crab or dead squid chunks may serve you well. Fish don’t have great visibility in this area and need to rely heavily on highly visible movement and strong smells.
The environment you’re in also has an effect on your bait. If you’re fishing in colder areas, using live bait that typically thrives in warmer climates may prove a challenge.
Consider Your Prey When Using Fishing Bait
Know your enemy is yet another cliché, but it rings true. The art of selecting effective fishing bait is enhanced if you know your prey’s weaknesses and habits. A fish that has excellent eyesight is more likely to be lured in by bright colors and odd shapes that artificial bait options are known for. Fish with a keen sense of smell are more likely to be drawn in by bloody bait or the thrashing of live prey.
It is also crucial that you have a handle on your prey’s hunting habits. You need to be aware of their peak hunting times as well as their typical diets. Choosing a bait that mimics their natural environment as closely as possible increases the chance that they’ll bite.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to fishing bait. Different circumstances determine which bait is better for your fishing trip. As long as you acknowledge and factor in your allotted resources, fishing locations, and types of fish you’re aiming to catch, choosing the proper bait should be a smooth process.
Whether you’re interested in more helpful fishing tips or need advice for planning your next wilderness expedition, be sure to check out the adventure advice on Rugged Standard.