8 Effective Live Freshwater Fishing Bait

There are countless ways to lure freshwater fish into your net, but if you’re looking for a fresh bait that will work every time, try something live.

They can be found in most gardens and few small ponds don’t have them crawling around on the ground at any given moment-their favorite spot being under rocks near waterfalls or deep pools of running water.

There are so many good options for live freshwater fishing bait. Worms, crayfish, eel, leech, mussel and grasshoppers can be some of the best baits around.

Live Natural Freshwater Fishing Bait List

When it comes to freshwater fishing, there is no shortage of bait options. Whether you are targeting bottom-feeders or top-feeding fish like catfish and carp, natural baits such as worms, leeches, minnows and crayfish should be at the top of your list.

1. Minnows

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Minnows are small fish that can be used as bait for fishing. They come in different sizes with larger ones being good for bass or pike fishing, and smaller one-shiners working well as a general freshwater all around type of baitfish. But not all minnow types are created equally so be careful when selecting which ones to use.

If your goal as a freshwater fishing enthusiast is catching bass or pike and they seem hard-to-catch recently, don’t go looking too far past the humble ‘shiner.’ These large minnows might just do the trick for those species since their larger size makes them more visible in water than smaller “teaser” sized varieties can offer.

Fishing with minnows is an exciting and rewarding hobby. One of the most abundant bait fish in fresh water, they are a crucial part to catching just about any type of freshwater fishing game – bass, pike, perch- you name it. Minnows come in different sizes so choose one that best suits your needs as well as the species you’re looking to catch.

You should also have the person you’re talking to know whether it is legal where they live to catch their own minnows because some areas require permits before taking them from an area (if any at all).

2. Crayfish

Crayfish as fish bait

The key to catching a variety of fish is knowing what kind of bait will work best. For example, the best bait for smallmouth bass is crayfish, which should be hooked through their tail. This can be done by using any method that they prefer so long as it has an effective result in capturing these small creatures alive or killing them before being placed onto your line – crayfish whole and live hooked through their tail works great.

For a tasty meal, many fish species can be caught. For smallmouth bass the crayfish should be alive and whole hooked through their tail with bait on your line to catch them! Pan fish are not hard either; use meat from their large pincers or tails depending on what you want for dinner. Catfish, bullheads, carp all take live crawdads threaded onto hooks as well – they’re cheaper than fresh food but just as satisfying in flavor! Crabs may also find themselves trapped by fine mesh nets when stirring water around so that’s another option too if there isn’t anyone nearby selling these little guys at local stores.

Like using crayfish as bait? Don’t bring them from home. Invasive crayfish decimate populations of plants, invertebrate, and some fish. By bringing them with you from home you risk destroying your favorite fishing spot. Buy or catch them where you fish instead.

3. Worms


The best bait for freshwater fishing is a worm. You can find enough of the wriggling critters from a few shovels of dirt or under some damp leaves, but you might want to buy them at your local tackle store if it’s available there first.

They’re plentiful, they work for nearly all species of fish and you can find them in your garden or from an area that’s damp with shade. And while they’re great for catching both walleyes and bass (night crawlers work better with those two species), earthworms hooked with are perfect when you need panfish like sunfish and trout.

For smaller kinds of freshwater fish such as sunfish or trout, use manure bugs because they’re small enough that it doesn’t matter whether they get caught on hooks easily since we aren’t targeting larger varieties.

4. Grubs

Grubs as Fishing Bait

Grubs and meal worms are two great bait options for freshwater fish, like panfish, sunfish, or trout. You can use them both singly in the water where you’re fishing – but they work even better when used together. Grubs can be harvested from soil as well as swollen leaves of trees and plants so make sure to look around before buying from a store.

You can also harvest grubs from the soil or swelled leaves of plants to use in your fishing endeavors. They come packaged at a number of different quantities which you could combine with other baits like small crickets (also known as ‘creepers’)

Fishing bait is typically sold pre-packaged by weight so it’s important that when buying bulk amounts, be sure that you have enough containers ready prior to arriving at the store because once purchased there isn’t an opportunity later on down the road if need arises.

5. Insects

Insects as Fishing Bait

You’ve probably used bait before to go fishing. But have you ever thought about what kind of live freshwater fish are attracted to different types of bugs?

You can catch pan fish, trout and sunfish by using live bait. One of the best types is ants. Brown Trout love them on a fly – they’re especially attracted to this type of fishing bait.

Other good choices are crickets, beetles and caterpillars, which also work well for catching smallmouths or large trout as your target species.

If you want to catch some freshwater fish, ants and other insects are the way to go. To get a good idea of what kind of bait is most appealing for your desired type of fish, make sure that they’re live – because dead ones don’t work as well. For example, brown trout love ants when presented on a fly; smallmouths will be more interested in immature versions like mayflies or caddis; large trout prefer stoneflies and hellgrammites.

6. Clams and Mussels

Freshwater mussel as fishing bait

The best way to catch fish is with live bait that can be found in the water. One option for fishing freshwater species of fish are clams and mussels, which makes them a great choice if they’re native to your area.

Preparing these fresh-water baits takes some time but will prove fruitful when you go out on the boat or pier. Gathering up any clam shellfish from shallow waters before or while you’re fishing ensures their quality; just crack open their shells, extract the meat inside (and use those yummy juices as an attractant), cut it into smaller bits and allow it to harden slightly by exposing it to sunlight so that it stays attached on hooks better. Once ready, tie each bit onto hooks using thread so.

Clams or mussels make a great live freshwater bait to catch the native fish. For best results, gather them from shallow waters before you go fishing and keep in mind that it’s important not to pull too tight when tying on your hook with thread because they’re hardy creatures-they can handle rough handling.

7. Eel

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The eel’s slippery body and its ability to live in both freshwater or saltwater makes it an excellent bait for fishing. Eels are best used whole when trolling for striped bass; you can hook them through the eyes, lips, or cut into chunks. The hardy nature of the eel means that they’re good as well at trolling and bottom fishing – make sure your hooks stay durable enough!

When fishing for striped bass, eels are one of the best baits to use. Simply hook them through their eyes or lips and cut them into chunks if you want a more versatile bait that can be used both trolling on top as well as bottom-fishing.

It is hard to believe how this slippery little guy can reel in the big ones. When fishing for striped bass, try using an eel as bait either whole or cut into chunks and hook it through its eyes. Eels are tough so you will need a strong line when trolling with them on the bottom – just don’t let your fingers get too close.

8. Leech


If you are a fan of fishing, then it is probably no surprise that live bait such as leeches make for excellent fish attractants. The walleye and northern pike are attracted to the leech because of its natural swimming motion. Leeches have a sucker on their heads as well that is smaller than the one at their tail end, but they should be hooked through this larger disk for more successful fishing.

The best way to do this would be by using your thumb and forefinger from opposite directions in order to grip around either side of the body when inserting into an appropriate sized hole near where a fisherman usually ties their line onto hooks (like what they use with worms). Now, once hooked properly, these creatures can swim freely without fear so long as not fished too fast – otherwise they will become dizzy.

The simple rule when using these guys as your lure is to avoid speeding up more than what their natural swimming motion would be – fish slow enough that you can see the flapping of their long body in water will entice any hungry predators nearby.

Final Words

Fishermen all know of the importance of live freshwater fishing bait of a good catch. The most important piece in any fisherman’s gear is his fishing bait. When fishing for fish, you’ll want to make sure your bait is fresh and live. This way freshwater fishes like sea bass, panfish or others will be attracted to it.

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