Best Live Bait for Bass

For years now the question of whether to use live bait or artificial bait when bass fishing has been argued. While there is no right or wrong answer it is solely based on what you, the angler, prefer. However, there are some benefits to using a certain type of bait depending on the fish. For bass and most freshwater fish, fishing with live bait is most successful. This is not only a great way to ensure catching more fish, but also saving money on artificial lures, jigs, and crankbaits. Though there are so many different options when it comes to live bait, here are some of our favorites. 

Fishing for Largemouth Or Smallmouth Bass

It is important to note what type of bass you are fishing for to know how to appeal to their palates. The most common mistake fishermen run into is considering minnows to be the only live bait option. However, if you are fishing for a Largemouth Or Smallmouth Bass the best live bait are:

  • Frogs
  • Crustaceans, such as crab and shrimp
  • Crawdads
  • Crayfish
  • Worms
  • Leeches
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Crawfish
  • Baitfish

The Best Minnows and Small Fish

Like previously mentioned, minnows can make or break your luck when fishing. While they are popular with small and largemouth bass, not all minnows are made equal. Though minnows are commonly used as baitfish, there are several different types of minnows, 250 just in the United States, to use.  Choosing the correct one is vital when fishing for bass.  The best minnows to use when fishing for bass are:

  • Shiner
  • Creek minnow or chub
  • small fish/ sunfish
  • Shad

How to Store the Live Bait

Keeping the bait alive and swimming is also very important. Artificial baits may be able to catch plenty of fish without any specific attention from the lure, but they also cannot duplicate a real fish. Other fish are able to detect the smell, texture, and action of fish before approaching. So if a bass is approaching an artificial bait, many times it will not bite. If a live bait such as a minnow or salamander is being fished by an imitation bait, a bass can recognize that and take the live bait instead.

Live bait can often be found at most bait shops, however, there are some that you must collect yourself.  Keep in mind that it may be hard to catch anything while bait fishing with the typical cast net since the fish will be so small. No matter where you get your bait from, here are a few things to keep in mind about live bait.

  • Bait should be fresh and lively. The more they wiggle and squirm the more enticing they will look to the bass.
  • There are certain regulations for the collection and the use of live baits, each state is different.
  • Having knowledge of live bait, even when using things like plastic worms are important. Most lures are designed to imitate the real things, being up to date on what the bait should look like, using the correct bobber and rod tip all play a role in having the best results. 

Although many may argue that the bass will swallow the whole hook when fishing with live bait, the problem arises with the use of any bait that is attached to a hook. Implementing the use of circle hooks helps eliminate the chance of this happening.  The best bait for a big bass may be different from a small fish. It can also depend on if you are fishing in deep water or shallow water. 

No matter what type of bait you decide to use you can usually find a good selection at your local bait shop. If you are just starting to work with natural bait, bring a few artificial lures and keep them in your tackle box just in case. Bass bait is one of the many that love eating accessible live bait, so if you are given the chance, try out bass fishing with live bait.