Various types of freshwater live bait are available for fishing out of lakes, rivers, streams and creeks. For instance, common freshwater live bait includes worms, crickets, grasshoppers, minnows and crayfish. However, the type of freshwater live bait you use will vary depending on the type of fish you wish to catch. For instance, freshwater live baits used for catching catfish, bass or sunfish includes crickets and grasshoppers.

Furthermore, how to catch freshwater live bait varies depending on the specific bait type. While several types of freshwater live bait such as grasshoppers or crickets can be caught with a small net or by hand, other baits such as worms can be purchased from a tackle shop, or they may be dug up from a garden. To learn more about how to catch freshwater live baits and to discover the benefits of catching freshwater live bait, review the sections below.

What are the different types of live freshwater bait?

Many types of freshwater live bait are available to choose from, depending on the fish species you wish to catch. For instance, common freshwater live bait includes crickets, grasshoppers, worms, minnows or crayfish. While worms may include nightcrawlers, red worms and wax worms, minnows may include emerald or golden shiners, suckers, creek or redtail chubs, rosey red and fathead minnows. Other types of freshwater live baits may include spikes, crayfish, hellgrammites and salmon eggs. Additionally, freshwater live bait may include small baitfish such as sunfish, smelt, yellow perch, shad and herring. Furthermore, prepared freshwater baits are also available, including stink bait, hot dogs, bread, canned corn, cottonseed cake and dough balls.

What are the characteristics and features of freshwater live bait?

Each type of freshwater live bait has its own set of characteristics and features. As such, common freshwater live baits include:

  • Fathead minnows are the most popular type of live bait for freshwater environments.
  • Golden shiners are larger minnows, making them ideal for catching bigger fish species. Most bait shops sell shiners of between five and six inches in length.
  • Emerald shiners are smaller than golden shiners at two to four inches in length.
  • Rosey red minnows are similar to fathead minnows, but they are red-orange in appearance.
  • Creek chub are a large type of minnow and are ideal for targeting bigger game fish.
  • Suckers are large minnows used to catch bigger fish. They are generally available in sizes of between three and 12 inches.
  • Nightcrawlers and red worms are similar in appearance, but red worms are smaller and thinner.
  • Wax worms (or wax moth larvae) are small and white, while spikes are fly larvae.

What kind of fishing can freshwater live bait be used for?

Freshwater live baits can be used to fish out of rivers, lakes, streams, ponds and creeks. For instance, freshwater baits such as nightcrawlers and fathead minnows pair well with most types of freshwater fishing, while spikes and wax worms are more commonly-used for ice fishing purposes. Furthermore, salmon eggs are an ideal bait for fishing out of shallower waters.

What types of fish can I catch with freshwater live bait?

With freshwater live baits, you can catch fish out of lakes, rivers, ponds, creeks and streams. For instance, various types of freshwater live bait such as crayfish can be used to catch white bass, freshwater drum, catfish, and large or smallmouth bass, while crickets or grasshoppers can be used to catch bass, catfish or sunfish. Furthermore, other types of live freshwater bait such as minnows or worms can be used to catch most fish species. For instance:

  • Fathead and rosey red minnows can be used to catch perch, walleye, bass or crappie.
  • Emerald shiners can be used to catch crappie, walleye, bass, panfish and perch.
  • Creek chub can be used to catch walleye, largemouth bass, northern pike, muskie, catfish and smallmouth bass.
  • Redtail chub and golden shiners can be used to catch muskie, northern pike, bass, catfish and walleye.
  • Suckers can be used to catch largemouth bass, muskie, and northern pike.
  • Nightcrawlers can be used to catch large and smallmouth bass, catfish, trout, carp, panfish, perch, rock bass and bluegill.
  • Red worms can be used to catch bluegill, panfish, perch, trout and rock bass.
  • Wax worms can be used to catch panfish, perch, crappie and bluegill.

Moreover, other types of freshwater live bait such as spikes can be used to catch panfish or steelhead, while crayfish can be used as bait for walleye and small or largemouth bass. With prepared freshwater baits, you can catch bottom-feeding species such as carp or catfish.

How do I use freshwater live bait?

Depending on the types of freshwater live bait you use, the rigging process will vary slightly. If using freshwater live baits such as grasshoppers or crickets, for instance, it is important to use a small hook for catching sunfish and a medium hook for catching catfish or bass. When using minnows as bait, it is important to hook the minnow under its dorsal fin or through its lips. Furthermore, live freshwater baits such as crayfish can be hooked underneath the tail. If using prepared freshwater baits, however, it is best to use a treble hook.

What are the advantages of using freshwater live bait?

Freshwater live baits are often needed to catch certain fish species such as carp, as this type of fish rarely takes artificial lures. Additionally, most types of freshwater live bait are free if you can catch them yourself, and you are more likely to get a bite when you use live bait.

What are the cons of using freshwater live bait?

While many types of freshwater live bait such as minnows are easy to care for, others are more difficult to keep fresh. Additionally, live bait must be hooked properly, or they may die before you get to use them. Furthermore, live freshwater bait can sometimes be difficult to find.

Who should consider using freshwater live bait?

Certain types of freshwater live bait are ideal for beginner or veteran anglers. For instance, live baits such as minnows or nightcrawlers are suitable for beginner fishermen.

How much does freshwater live bait cost?

Many types of live bait are free if you can catch them on your own. However, certain types of freshwater live bait such as golden shiners are more expensive than nightcrawlers or flathead minnows.

Where can I find freshwater live bait?

Most types of freshwater live bait are sold through local tackle shops, gas stations and supermarkets. However, you can catch your own freshwater live bait if you prefer. During the process of how to catch freshwater live bait, you may dig for worms in your backyard, catch grasshoppers or crickets with an insect net, or you can catch crayfish in roadside ditches or ponds (if legal in your state).