Finding the best live bait for bass can be a challenge. Using live bait can yield giant bites on your local water, but often requires knowledge of the local forage. Largemouth bass are opportunistic feeders but often will focus on specific prey during certain seasons and/or times of day. Here, I’ll break down some of the most effective bait you can use for giant bites. Especially when the bite is difficult.
It’s a fact that bass eat other fish like shad, minnows, blue gill, and small trout. Even better, they’re an easy go-to for many freshwater anglers. Many fishermen will simply imitate these bait fish with a large bluegill swimsuit for example but nothing beats applying the real thing. In fact, most predatory fish such as pike, catfish, musky, and trout will eat live minnows on a daily basis. As a result, most anglers will attest that live minnows are the best bait of all time!
Where To Find Live Minnows
You can often buy live bait from your local tackle store. But if not, you can use a fish trap in your local waters. An example would be a foldable net you can purchase from Bass Pro. A crawdad trap works well, too. All of these can be found at local stores or online. I like to put a glow stick in the trap, which attracts small fish of all species. For bait, you can punch holes in a tuna can and let it sit. As far as location goes, try finding shallow water near vegetation or other cover such as docks, stumps, or fallen trees. Check your trap every few hours.
How To Fish Live Minnows
The best set-up for live minnow fishing is a bobber rig. Try using a SIZE HOOK and hook the minnow through the bottom of the mouth through to the top. For a bobber, I like to go with a Gamakatsu live bait hook. A drifting bobber such as a 1 oz. inline bobber works well handling the weight and added action of a live fish on your hook. Other options include weighing your bait down with an egg sinker set up.
Largemouth Bass Bait: Night Crawlers
Worms are a natural part of a fish’s diet. They often come across grubs, larvae, earthworms, and silkworms, when seasonal rains wash them out of the ground and/or trees. You can buy earthworms from most tackle shops. Other good options are red worms, meal worms, and bloodworms. One great aspect of fishing with worms is that you can land any size fish. If your goal is to target bluegill, you can catch them on worms. If you want bass, you can catch large bass. They act as great multi-species bait and are probably the best bait for ponds, too. However, many people think they only catch smaller fish. On one of our home lakes here in Northern California, a record Largemouth was caught weighing in at 15 lbs, and the bait of choice was a nightcrawler. They are a fantastic largemouth bass bait.
How To Fish a Night Crawler
There are several ways you can fish a night crawler rig. One way ( my favorite) is a split shot setup. Using split shot bee bees and a size 4 bait holder hook, cast out and let your bait fall close to vegetation like a weed line or fallen tree. Watch your line as the bait falls. Nine times out of 10, you’ll get hit on the drop. Other methods include a bobber setup and drop shot method.
Large Mouth Bass Bait: Live Bluegill
Bass eat bluegill. It’s a fact. Bluegill and bass often live side by side and play integral parts in not only the ecosystem but also one another’s lives. However, the impact they both have is filled with violence. For example, in Spring, bluegill will target bass beds and gorge on bass eggs and small fry. Likewise, bluegill is on a bass menu year-round. As a result, using bluegill as live bait can often be rewarding. But first, check your State and local laws and determine whether fishing live bluegill is legal in your area.
Where to Find Bluegill
Bluegill can be found around grass, stumps, weediness, and up shallow most of the year. However, Spring and summer are the best times of year to locate Bluegill up shallow. This makes them the best live bait to fish with in summer for much larger bass. To catch Bluegill, use a light action rod such as a trout rod, and hook a nightcrawler on. You can fish it with a split shot or weightless. Try both presentations to determine what the fish want. Alternatively, you can use a cast net and use bread crumbs or mealworms as attractants. Check your local guidelines to find out if cast nets are legal in your local waters.
How To Fish A Live Bluegill
Once you have a few bluegill, use a 4/O Gamakatsu circle hook. Insert the hook through the top of the bluegill’s back, about a 1/4 of an inch below the dorsal fin, and always above the spine. Similar to a nightcrawler setup, you can use a bobber and drift your bait over grass flats and bear cover. If the bass are closer to the bottom, try using a slip sinker to hold the bait down. When you feel a fish on, let it take the bait by opening your bail and free spooling for a few seconds. DO NOT set the hook hard. Simply allow the fish to hook itself. A hard hook set will rip the bait out of its mouth before a hook set occurs.
Largemouth Bass Bait: Crawfish
Similar to fishing with bluegill, Crawfish are also a large part of a Bass’ diet. These little critters typically are nocturnal but bass prey on them all the same. Because of this, many soft plastic lures are designed to look and move like a crawfish. Additionally, they provide a healthy amount of calories for bass, especially in the Spring when bass rise from deeper water to spawn. This is why live crawdad can be a deadly bait option for larger bass.
How To Fish A Crawdad
There are several ways to fish a crawdad for big bass. The humane method requires a rubber band and a small bait hook. Rap the band around the crawdad’s back and place the hook under the band so that it almost resembles a wacky rig setup.
Locate rock walls, gravel, and anywhere you think there may be bass. Allow the craw dad to crawl on its own but try avoiding areas where it may wedge itself under or behind large rocks. Periodically, you can give your rod tip a fast twitch and pop if you feel the crawdad hasn’t moved. You can also use a bobber setup for live crawdad. However, this presents a less natural appearance.
After feeling that glorious thump of a bass slurping your bait, open your bail and let him take line. Similar to a live bluegill, if you set the hook hard and too early, you’ll rip it right out of the fish’s mouth. Simply close the bail and gently pull the rod tip back and let the fish set the hook on its own with its forward momentum.