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Good natural freshwater fishing baits include worms, minnows, crickets and grasshoppers.
Freshwater bottom-feeders like perch, lungfish and cod are also attracted to cut fishing baits (cut-up bait fish) and prepared baits called dough balls.
Always check local fishing regulations to make sure the freshwater fishing bait you choose is legal for the lake you're fishing. Many lakes don't allow the use of rough fish minnows as freshwater bait because rough fish can take over a lake and starve-out the game fish.
Compare the cost of losing one worm to losing a lure and you'll see that fishing with live bait can be less expensive, however if you're intent on using a lure then secure it with a standard Hook-Eze Knot Tying Tool for the most professional knots.
Using fish cut into pieces attracts fish in a different way than whole, live freshwater fishing bait or lures. Fish that are attracted to scent are more likely to hit on cut bait. You can use any caught fish, including bait fish, to make cut bait. For best results, scale the fish but leave the skin on.
If you want a cheap, plentiful, easy to use and highly effective fishing bait, try bread. The kids can make this bait which will make them feel that they contributed towards a fishing trip. Use a stale, thin-sliced white loaf to make the paste.
1. Remove the crust from the slices and then soak the trimmed slices in a bowl of cold water, making them soggy but not so wet that they disintegrate.
2. Wrap the soaked slices in a clean cloth (such as a tea towel) and squeeze them firmly to remove all excess water. Take the bread out of the cloth and knead it until it becomes a firm, smooth non-sticky paste.
3. You can add additives such as aniseed, brown sugar or custard powder into the paste. My father used to ask my mother for vanilla or almond essence. You can also colour the paste if you want with cake icing colour.
When you put the paste on the hook you should mould it around the shank and bend of the hook, leaving the point exposed.
Grubs and meal worms are used often as live freshwater bait and are readily available from tackle and bait shops. Use them singly or in multiples.
You can also harvest grubs from the soil and from the swelled and deformed leaves of trees, plants and vegetables.
Basically, minnows are baby fish and a good all-around freshwater fishing bait. Minnows are readily available from bait and tackle shops or you can catch your own if it's legal in your area. Minnows come in different sizes. You must not use live bait from a separate waterway as bait or berley. It is an offence to release live bait in a water other than where the bait was initially caught.
For cast and retrieve, trolling and drifting, hook the minnow vertically through both lips or through the tail.
For still fishing with a bobber, hook the minnow through the back just above the dorsal fin. Take care not to damage the spinal cord. The key is to keep the fish moving on its own.
Tricks and Tips for Minnows
For really good action, hook the minnow upside down on a light jig. It will struggle to regain an upright position
Store minnows in a minnow bucket using the same water from which they were bought or captured and take care not to crowd them.
Ants, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars are ideal to use as live freshwater fishing bait for catching pan fish, sunfish and trout. Brown trout are especially attracted to ants presented on a fly. Smallmouths and large trout prefer immature versions of mayflies, stoneflies, caddis, hellgrammites and dobsonfly larvae.
Tricks and Tips for Insects
You can buy insects or catch your own. Ants can be gathered from a nest and large insects can be captured with a net. Hey, get the whole family involved.
Worms are a good freshwater fishing bait for nearly all freshwater fishing. You can find enough worms for fishing from a few shovels of dirt in your garden or from a shaded, damp area. Worms can also be purchased in fishing tackle stores and bait shops. For walleyes and bass, use earthworms or night crawlers.
Tips and Tricks for Worms
To prevent smaller fish from nibbling the worm without biting down on the hook, you can use just a piece of the worm. If you have small worms, thread the hook through the side of the worm at several places along its body.