Using shrimp has almost become the all-purpose saltwater bait. They can be used in almost any situation and you're bound to get some type of results. They are probably best used in inshore conditions, with many types of fish hitting on them. Of course you'll have to keep them alive in a bait bucket, though fish have been known to hit on them even when they are dead. The problem with shrimp can be that you'll go through them quite quickly and that can be expensive. Many times smaller fish you aren't trying to catch will nibble on them, leaving you with no shrimp or only a part left on the hook.
Using Cut Bait
Cut bait is when you cut up part of an existing fish that's dead and place it on your hook for bait. This type of bait can be used when fishing inshore, offshore or surf fishing. It is most generally used in off-shore conditions though. Groupers are particularly fond of cut bait, as are other fish such as bluefish and jacks. You can either use an unwanted fish you've caught for bait, or cut up some of your live bait fish that you've purchased.
If surf fishing is the type of fishing you like, clams always seems to bring in the results. You can usually purchase them by the dozen at local bait shops. Clams work well for pompano, whiting and other types of fish that are found close to the surf area. If you live in an area where clams are still found, it's possible to dig in the shallow waters for your own. The best thing about clams is you can get four baits out of each one. You'll need to crack them open by either smashing two together, or using something else hard enough to break through the outer shell. You then just slice them long ways into several pieces and place them on your hook. Any leftover clams will store nicely in your refrigerator for several days to a week and still remain alive.
Using Other Small Fish
Using smaller fish such as finger mullet, small croakers, small pinfish and small pig fish, is another great bait to use. They are good for both inshore and offshore fishing. You can usually purchase these types of bait at your local bait store, or use a cast net to catch your own. These fish are the most lively on the hook and seem to stay alive for quite a long time, making your chances of catching a fish even greater. Of course, you'll have to keep the others alive in a bait bucket with fresh saltwater flowing through it. They are great to use when trying to catch bluefish, redfish, trout, strippers and tarpon.
Using Sand Fleas
Another great bait to use when surf fishing is sand fleas. Since you can catch your own using a sand flea bucket, they don't have to cost you a dime. People have been digging the shoreline of beaches for years, gathering sand fleas. Since they live just below the surface of the sand, you will have to dig for them.They make great bait for surf fish such as pompano and whiting. Place your hook through their hard shell and you're ready to fish.
When you can catch them, small crabs or small fiddler crabs make excellent bait. Some fish such as redfish and sheepshead absolutely love them. You may be able to purchase smallish crabs in your local bait store, but you'll probably end up having to catch your own. The smaller the crab, the better. Place your hook through the back end of the shell so the crab will still be able to move while it's in the water.