Earthworms and night crawlers are standard bait for every angler, young and old, as so many species of fish will go after them. Trout, bass, crappies, yellow perch, white perch, bluegill, carp, pumpkinseeds and eels will all gladly take a fat juicy worm under almost any conditions. Worms will attract fish in the spring, summer and fall and can be fished under bobbers or with simply a split shot attached to the line to keep it on the bottom. Worms work in ponds, streams, lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Rubber worms are also fine bait for bass, pike, pickerel, crappies and perch.
Shiners and minnows are important baits for a number of fishermen. Shiners are the preferred baits by most people that enjoy ice fishing. Fish such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, pickerel, yellow perch, catfish, salmon and trout can be caught on shiners beneath the ice. The typical ice fisherman will utilize shiners and minnows on their tip-ups and also use bits of shiners on their jigging rods, putting them on a jig head to lure fish to bite. Shiners can also catch fish in the warmer weather. Crappies and bass will go after shiners if they are presented correctly. Fishing with a shiner beneath a bobber or trolling one behind a boat are common tactics used to catch crappies and bass respectively.
The crayfish is versatile live bait and has been known to produce hits from such species as smallmouth bass, perch and many kinds of panfish. Smallmouths prefer their crayfish alive and astute anglers will catch these excellent fighters by hooking a crayfish through the tail and casting it into their territory. Dead crayfish with a hook that has been threaded through them will get the attention of catfish and carp while the tail section of a crayfish contains enough meat to use on a small hook to excite bluegills and crappies.
The huge array of artificial lures available today can make it confusing for someone taking up fishing to know what to use. Bass in particular have an incredible variety of lures that are designed with them in mind. Poppers that float on the top of the water are excellent bait when it is dusk and the water is calm. Deeper lakes are good places to use crankbaits and spinnerbaits, which can be made to dive down into the depths. Topwater lures such as buzzbaits and jerkbaits can be fished in shallows as can the aforementioned rubber worms and other plastic baits made to resemble something a bass would like to dine on. Spoon lures can catch bass as well as pike, pickerel and muskies. Trout are taken with flies and much smaller spinning lures.