Saltwater anglers will frequently cut up a fish into smaller chunks and use it for bait. This cut bait emits a strong scent and helps to attract fish such as bluefish and sailfish. The size of the fish matters little when making cut bait, but often the fisherman will scale the fish first and leave its skin on before slicing it into smaller pieces. Shrimp are also used for bait, as is squid and octopus, whether whole or chopped into bits, which is excellent for trolling and appeals to amberjack and dolphin-fish. Eels, whole or carved up, make useful striped bass bait and catch a variety of other fish too. Eels are tough enough to troll with or fish on the bottom. Crabs of all types, clams and the meat of some of the larger shellfish like conches make good saltwater fishing baits.
Freshwater Natural Bait
Open-water fishermen and ice anglers swear by live baitfish, such as fatheads, chubs, minnows and shiners. They will rig these fish under floats, tip-ups, on jigging rods or fish them in the current. Often an angler will use a piece of a baitfish in tandem with a lure. Many people that fish for smallmouth bass and trout consider insects such as grasshoppers, dragonflies and ants when choosing bait. Grubs, mealworms, moussies and waxworms fit the bill as bait when panfish are the target. Bait and tackle shops will carry leeches for catching walleye and northern pike.
Crayfish (pictured above) hooked through the tail are a favorite bait for smallmouth anglers. Catfish are attracted to the terrible odor of prepared stinkbaits, which consist of rotted fish in most cases. Carp are partial to doughballs prepared by the anglers or bought at a bait shop. Perhaps the most effective of all freshwater baits though is the night crawler or earthworm. Practically every species of freshwater fish will offer at a worm, and worms are easy to thread onto a hook for children and adults alike.
Artificial lures have a huge following among anglers, no matter what type of fish they go after. Lures come in a wide array of different sizes, shapes and colors. The hooks on these lures differ, from a single large hook to a set of treble hooks. Jigs possess a metal head, a hook and some sort of tail composed of rubber, feathers or animal hair. Spoons made from cast metal imitate injured or escaping baitfish. Most tackle boxes will hold different colored and sized spoons designed for casting, jigging and trolling.
Spinning baits include the in-line spinners, the safety-hook shaped spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and other prop lures. Spinners feature at least one blade or propeller-like piece that spins as the angler reels the lure in. Soft plastic baits created to resemble worms, crayfish, snakes, frogs, lizards and other creatures are incredibly popular with anglers. Surface lures like topwater plugs, plastic frogs, jerkbaits and wobblers stay on the surface when reeled in. Crankbaits are just the opposite, made to look like a baitfish and having the ability to dive down to specific depths depending on their design. Fly fishermen will catch their quarry by delivering an artificial version of a fly, made out of such things as animal hair and feathers, to the surface of the water using a special rod and reel.