During my days as a beginner angler, I learned the hard way that not using the proper live bait to catch fish can result in nothing less than coming home with a fish-free cooler filled with water from melted ice after an entire day of fishing. It’s funny because there’s a wide range of live baits I could have used to avoid going home with a long face and nothing to show for my efforts. Now, I use the following types of live baits to show how serious I truly am about my sport, by way of having something to grill or fry for dinner.
Often referred to as crawdads or crawfish, the crayfish is a freshwater crustacean that looks so much like a lobster, only much smaller. Serving as a widely-used bait to bag different types of game fish, the crayfish I use has enabled me to capture walleyes, smallmouth and largemouth bass. For me it works great with my Shimano Stimula rod. It’s fantastic what fish I can target using crayfish. I am fortunate that in my state, there exists no regulation on the use of crayfish as bait. However, I’ve heard that in some states, the crayfish is considered an invasive species so there are laws that prohibit its use in angling. Although I find that sad, crayfish is still my favorite bait because it is quite effective on the job.
Minnows and Baitfish
Whenever I can, I use chubs as bait. Chubs work extremely well when I want to bag northern pike, muskie, walleye and largemouth bass. I have even caught some catfish and smallmouth bass using chubs. Both redtail chub and creek chub work well for many types of fish species but the more seasoned anglers I have had the pleasure of talking to swear by the greater effectiveness of the redtail chub for catching northern pike and walleye. Well, I can’t tell exactly why but there must be something in the redtail chub that entices the toothy species.
Targeting freshwater gamefish using creek chubs has generally been a terrific experience for me thus far. There have been times when my creek chubs have incited hardly a strike or even a tentative nibble from the fish but at other times, when I do get a bite, it’s most likely from a big fish. I capture creek chubs using a small piece of corn or worm, in small streams and creeks.
Like most other anglers, I consider the fathead minnow a great freshwater live bait because so many fish eat it. The baitfish is comparatively easy to keep alive, living long in the minnow bucket with very little care needed. During the cooler season, I have seen fathead minnows lasting days in a minnow bucket left outside. I have been successful at catching perch, crappie, bass and walleye using fathead minnows as live bait.