Clams stink, no doubt about it. Not only do they stink, but fish love their stink. From Virginia to Maine, clams attract striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, summer flounder, porgies, sea bass and nearly every other fish in the sea. Fresh shucked clams cost about $4 per quart in most bait and tackle shops.
From Virginia to Florida and all along the Gulf Coast to Texas, shrimp is the bait of choice for surf casters. Whether they are chasing jacks, pompano, tarpon, speckled trout or redfish, anglers use shrimp to consistently score with these and other saltwater game fish. You can expect to pay from $10 to $16 per pound for live bait shrimp.
All along the coast, fish love to eat worms. Whether they are sand worms or blood worms, their scent and movement attract fish. For sand worms, expect to pay $7 per dozen. If that price sounds high, you will be shocked by the $10 per dozen for blood worms, which last longer on the hook. Of course, if you have fertile soil, you can spend time digging for your own nightcrawlers to save some money.
Another all-coast bait is commonly referred to as cut bait. Whether it's chunks of mullet, mackerel or menhaden, fish love chunks of fresh meat. When buying fish for bait, it should be firm to the touch, and while it might smell fishy, it should never smell rotten. Menhaden cost about $1.75 each, mackerel $1.50 each and mullet are $3.00 per dozen.