Lifestyle,  Nautical

Bass Bait That Works

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 Photo by Jeff Vanderspank on Unsplash

Bass tend not to be too picky when it comes to what they will eat. They will eat leeches, worms, dragonflies, crayfish, minnows, frogs, tadpoles, snakes, shad, and baby bass!

In recent years, fishing for bass with live bait is not as popular as it had once been. Lures, of every size, shape and color, have slowly replaced the use of live bait. Bait tends to be messy, smelly and sometimes hard to locate unless you are close to a bait shop. 

Even so, fishing with bait does have its own allure. Fishing with bait gives you the best chance of catching bass as bait does not need to mimic ianything, like an artificial lure does. Bait is what the bass expects and is searching for. 

When choosing bait to fish for bass, or any other fish, it is important that the bait be fresh. If the bait is spoiled, dried out or freezer burnt, you are going to be wasting your time using it. While frozen bait can be effective, if you have the choice, purchase your bait fresh from a bait or tackle shop.

Minnows As Bait For Fishing Bass 

Available in bait and tackle shops

When at the bait and tackle shop, look for minnows. They can be shiners, creek chubs or shad. If you listen to the avid bass anglers at Bass Bums, the minnow is the number one live bait to use. The hardiness of the minnow is an important consideration, because you want the minnow to be lively underwater. 

More helpful info from the Bass Bums is that when you stop at the bait shop for minnows, check the tank that they are in. If the minnows are bunched up in a corner of the tank, that is a sign of healthy minnows. Avoid the ones that are by themselves or near the water’s surface. 

If you choose to use a lure instead of live bait, you can try Rapala Original Floater 05 Fishing lure, 2-Inch, Shiner, pictured below. 


Menhaden Chunks As Bass Bait

Available in bait and tackle shops

Sometimes referred to as “the most important fish in the sea,” menhaden is also known as mossbunker and bunker. These fish rarely get over 15 inches. Their importance is due to their ability toconvert phytoplankton into high-energy flesh. This makes menhaden the primary food source for sport fish, like bass.There has even been a book written about this fish:The Most Important Fish In The Sea: Menhaden and America

Menhaden are not used for food but are processed into fish oil and fish meal. Native Americans used them as fertilizer for crops. By the mid-1870s, menhaden had replaced whales as the source of industrial lubricant. The reason they are not often eaten is because of the oily flesh. Menhaden decays very quickly and the oil becomes rancid. 

Menhaden is referred to by many other names such as “bunker,” “mossbunker,” “pogy,” “poghoden,” and dozens of others. 

This oily fish attracts bass from a distance away, as they can smell it. Menhaden can be fished live or dead, and from a boat or from the shore which makes it great if you are fishing on a lake. Menhaden will also attract all sizes of bass, as this fish is like a power bar to other fish. 

The local bait and tackle shop will have adult menhaden that range in size from about 10 – 15 inches. These fish are thin, but tall. Most of them are silvery in color but will have shades of blue, yellow or tan along their backs and tails. 

You will need to keep your bait in a cooler while you are fishing. You can use the bait whole, or cut it into chunks. 

Although this video is from 2014, the information is still relevant to anglers today: How to fish with Bunker chunks Menhaden from Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh, NY.  

If you choose to use a lure instead of bait, you can try Fishing Tackle Lures Menhaden Swimbait, pictured below. 

Live Frogs As Bass Bait

Available in bait and tackle shops

As a live bait, frogs work great especially in areas with heavy vegetation like you might find on a lake shore. Frogs make excellent bait. They work well for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. When you prepare a frog, it is often best to use a wide gap hook with a split shot that is about a foot from the hook. Go through the forelegs of the frog with your hook. This does not hinder their ability to move, but allows them to swim naturally. Frogs are fished shallow, deep or across the tops of vegetation or lily pads.

It is best to cast towards the sides of the vegetation and then retrieve at a moderately fast to fast rate. Make sure you don’t retrieve too fast, as bass tend to lay in wait for their food. Bass won’t chase down prey that they think can outrun them. But bass will take notice of frogs that act wounded, so if you pause at times in your retrieving, they will pay more attention. Try to mimic the action of a wounded frog. 

If you choose to use a lure rather than live bait, you can use the Booyah Pad Crasher Topwater Bass Fishing Hollow Body Frog Lure with Weedless Hooks, pictured below. 

Using Live Eels To Fish For Bass

Available in bait and tackle shops

Eels can be used all season long and under most every condition. Eels can be cast fairly well, so surf anglers like using eels. You can use eels like you would a lure and cover the entire water column. You don’t need coolers or weights with eels, so it makes it easy to fish on the move. Eels work well in deep or faster-moving water because they will swim to the bottom. You just have to be aware of and avoid boulders as eels will swim into them and tangle your line. 

Eels can be cast out and then reeled back in slowly. Don’t go too slow or let it sit for long as the eel will find its way into rocks and get hung up. 

If you choose to use a lure rather than live bait, you can use the Savage Gear 3D Real EEL Pre-Rigged 8″  pictured below. 

Final Thoughts

It is always a good thing to hone your skills by trying something a bit different, like fishing with bait. Fishing gives you the opportunity to try and match your skill against a wary adversary. There are thousands of lures, and numerous baits that seek to entice the bass to bite. Yet it still takes skill, patience, and an understanding of bass and their habits to catch one. 

Whether you use an artificial lure or bait, getting out on the lake and pitting your skills against a bass is never a wasted day. As Patrick F. McManus, a columnist for Outdoor Life and Field and Stream, once said: “The two best times to fish is when it’s raining and when it ain’t.” 

And if you have no luck on the lake, you can always snag one of these guys!

Big Mouth Billy Bass Motion-Activated Singing Sensation Fish