Best bait for fishing in lakes ( Top 14 )

Best bait for fishing in lakes: The best bait for fishing in lakes are live baits like worms, leeches, live insects, frogs and tadpoles, live minnows, clams and mussels, snails, lizards, and reptiles. The best fishing lures for lake fishing are spoons, spinnerbait, crankbait, jigs and buzz baits.

The type of bait you will use will determine how many fish you will catch if any at all. During any SHTF situation where you have to rely on feeding yourself with the fish that you have caught, it is imperative to have high-quality bait. My personal recommendation is to get a small bait kit which has everything from plastic worms, crankbait to spinnerbaits Click here to check price on

Best bait for fishing in lakes

If you are planning to live off the grid or simply just being a sensible prepper at some point you will have to start thinking of different ways of getting food. As most new preppers and homesteaders will often find is that their first crops will almost allways fail. For a prolonged SHTF event or even a global conflict, you can not rely on your immediate food rations and supplies. Fishing, hunting, and foraging allways should be a viable option in your bug out or off-grid location.

I will address also hunting and foraging in some future articles and I specifically have chosen lake fishing as there are plenty of freshwater lakes in Northern Aerica and in Canada. One of the great benefits of fishing is that it is fairly easy, there is no need for fancy equipment and you can also improvise by building your own fishing gear using local resources. In terms of what will make for a successful fishing trip will be the bait you will use.

All lakes are different and even if they do more or less have the same species of fish in them you will find that some types of baits will work better in some lakes than in other. This is mostly due to the local environment, what kind of bugs thrive in the area, what is the temperature of the water and how deep is the water. If you are among the few lucky ones to have a cabin near to a freshwater lake, my suggestion is to read my article Off grid cabin essentials.

Live bait for fishing in lakes

live bait for fishing in lakes

My favorite type of fishing is using live bait as not only predators will be attracted to them but also the omnivores. Fish generally do not have good eyesight especially lake water fish which often has murky water. Although the fish can not see clearly the live bait what they will definitely notice is the movement of the live bait. There are some fish baits made to mimic small fish, these are also a good option but you will have a much higher success with live bait.

The live bait doesn’t even have to be some specific kind of fish, worm or insect, just take a closer look around the lake shore and see what kind of insects and worms are more prevalent. If one type is more abundant than the odds of the other are that the fish in the lake are already familiar with it, thus making it a lot easier to catch them. If you are looking to catch some predators in a lake than your best option would be small fish.


worms bait for fishing in lakes

You can easily find almost in every terrain nightcrawlers and redworms if you live in a house just dig a small hole and you will find some. These are also fairly easy to stockpile, just wait for a rainy day and you will see that a lot of worms will come out to the surface so that they do not down in the rainwater. For transport just put them in a plastic container with some dirt and they should be good, although do not forget to punch some breathing holes in the top of the container, otherwise, they will suffocate fairly fast.

Worms are easily one of the best baits for fishing in lakes as once these are on the hook and in the water they will wiggle around a lot attracting the attention of nearby predators and other fish. Although there is a precise technique on how you should hook a worm so that it lives longer and it wiggles. Pierce the worm on the hook in two places horizontally, do not put the worm on a fishing hook like a glove, as this way it can not wiggle and most often it will die within minutes.

With worms you can catch any kind of fish living in a lake, the only difference of what kind of fish you will catch is the size of the worm, if you aim for larger fish that have a larger worm on the hook. If you have read my article Best off grid tv shows, you probably already know that most of these shows where people live off the land will almost allways only use worms for fishing due to their availability.


leeches bait for fishing in lakes

In an SHTF situation, you have to be creative to catch fish, although leeches have been used for a long time by fisherman and sold in most bait shops most new fisherman outright ignore them as they consider them dangerous. Leeches bought from the store will not suck on your blood, but leeches found in freshwater lakes and rivers will suck on your blood with the first opportunity. You can find leeches in shallow pools of water, but you need to look carefully as leeches blend in the environment fairly well.

Leeches once hooked tend to live a lot longer than worms, as they are quite comfortable even in deeper and colder waters. Just be careful when “hunting” for leeches in nature as these carry a lot of diseases, my recommendation is to use simple sanitary gloves if possible, the leeches will not be able to penetrate it. One downside to using leeches for fishing is that not all types of fish like them, the seasoned fisherman will say that leeches are best used for fishing Perch, Crappie and Walleye.

Live insects

live insect bait for fishing in lakes

Most people associate fishing in lakes with live insects to crickets and grasshoppers, in truth you can use any insect as live bait. Humanity has used live insects as bait for thousands of years mostly due to its availability, as you will find these near any freshwater lake in abundance. One thing to keep in mind while catching live insects for fishing is their size and camouflage. When it comes to size think what kind of fish you are targeting, can the insect along with the hook fit in the fishes mouth, if not than the bait is too large and you will end up with smaller fish nibbling on the live bait.

On the other hand, if the live insect is too small it will be much harder to notice by the fish and you could end up wasting a lot of time. When it comes to insect camouflage think of it this way, while their camouflage will make you harder to spot the insect, it still could have strong contrast in water. Insects with bright green, red camouflage are the best as these will be much easier spotted by any fish.

Frogs and tadpoles

frogs and tadpoles bait for fishing in lakes

You can find these in most lakes, usually, they tend to congregate next to vegetation which is close to the water. Frogs and tadpoles are excellent bait for lake fishing as these are actually eaten by most fish in lakes. Catching them is fairly easy provided you have a net, if not you can use a t-shirt or even improvise a small trap for them with plastic bottles. Frogs and tadpoles do not have any trouble staying alive in water as this is their natural element although they sometimes will go on the top of the water to breathe.

You might think that this is a bad thing but fish are not used to seeing frogs in open water, once they see a frog in open water especially on the top surface they will not hesitate to eat it. Depending on the size of them you can fish anything from bass to pike with them.

Live minnows

live minnows bait for fishing in lakes

You might think that catching live minnows would take a lot of time, but if you look closely along the edge of the lake you will see small schools of fish. Generally, these are young fish which are excellent bait for the larger predators like bass, bluegills carp, and catfish. You can easily catch these live minnows with something as simple as a net, but if you are in an SHTF situation and for some reason you do not have a net you can still improvise, even a plain old T-shirt will do the job.

One you caught the small fish you can put one of them on the hook, while most people hook the small fish right through its belly this isn’t the best idea. Remember that you will rely on the fishes predatory instincts on eating anything that moves, if the small fish bait for them is dead it will be much harder for the fish to notice it. The secret is to hook the small fish in a part where it doesn’t kill it so it can still relatively swim, the best part for this is by hooking the small fish by the gill.

Generally speaking, live minnows are greate fish bait for larger fish, although you might find that small fish will also try and nibble on them occasionally. Live minnows are great for fishing walleye, crappie, perch, and trout.

Larger minnows

shiners bait for fishing in lakes

Larger minnows are mostly used to catch larger predators as these larger minnows are a food source to which they are accustomed to. Although if you are not buying them from a bait shop you might find it lot harder catching them as opposed to smaller minnows. Larger minnows also congregate near the shoreline but most of them are not in schools, so even finding one will be difficult. My recommendation is to find some vegetation in the lake which is close to the shore and swoop with a net for a couple of times.

This way you will catch smaller and larger minnows as well. Types of fish that are considered larger minnows are shad, shiners, and suckers and you can find these in most freshwater lakes and even rivers. Shad and suckers are generally used to catch bass, catfish, muskellunge, and walleye. While shiners can be used to catch any predators as once light hits their body due to their reflectiveness they will shine, thus also comes its name.

Clams and mussels

clams bait for fishing in lakes

If you are fishing in a freshwater lake you will find a lot of clams and mussels. The only thing you need to do is to crack them open with a knife and use only the soft tissue as bait, you will not catch anything if you attempt to use the clams and mussels with their shell still attached to them. If you are not pressured by time or for some reason you do not have a knife to prie them open you can put them on the sun for an hour or so, this way the clams and mussels will start opening up slowly and you can use almost anything to crack them open once they start to open on their own.

An added benefit for using clams and mussels is that these will live for a long period of time even after being put on a hook. Also, these clams and mussels come in different shapes and sizes so you can fish virtually any fish with them.


Snails bait for fishing in lakes

Snails are excellent for fishing in lakes as these tend to survive a long time underwater and they will wiggle a lot. The problem with snails is hooking them in a way that it survives. Some fisherman crack open the snail’s house to be easier hooked, although this is not necessary all the time. With smaller snails you can pierce its shell easily, just do not pierce it from one side to another as this will kill the snail.

Snails are generally used for catching larger fish, and as these are extremely slippery you will not have the problem of smaller fish nibbling it off from the hook as you would have with other live fish.

Small lizards and reptiles

lizard bait for fishing in lakes

You can find these close to the shoreline where they hunt for insects. Catching them is also fairly easy if you see in the ground small holes odds are that there is a reptile or a mouse. Pick a small twig which fits in the hole and just wiggles around the hole a couple of times. If there is a reptile present it will bite the twig and you can pull out the twig with the reptile still attached to it. You can also use the entire reptile as bait or you can use only its tail which will come off naturally once the reptile is under threat.

The tail of any reptile will wiggle around a lot in order to attract the predator away from the reptile, and this makes it an excellent bait for any fish living in a lake. If you wake up early you can also find these reptiles sunbathing in the early morning, during this period most of them will not be able to react to anything so you can just pick them up.

Fishing lures for lakes

Although not a big fan of them I can see why people do use fishing lures instead of living bait. You do not have to hunt for live bait, as you can buy fishing lures from any bait shop or fishing websites. One of the great benefits in using fishing lures is that they are extremely durable, one high-quality fishing lure can end up catching you hundreds of fish and they can last for years. Some fishing lures are specifically made for certain fish, while other you can use to catch almost every fish in a lake or even river.

Generally speaking, these fishing lures mimic the natural behavior of smaller fish, thus making them excellent for catching predators and large fish. There are literally thousands of fishing lures on the market, I won’t be recommending any specific product although my recommendation is to only use fishing lures made out of metal rather than plastic or even rubber.


Spinnerbait for fishing in lakes

Spinnerbaits are generally made out of thin metal, although you might come across some made out of plastic, I wouldn’t advise you to use these as any larger predator can easily break the bait. Generally, these spinnerbaits are coated with a shiny material which reflects sunlight excellently. One of the drawbacks of using a spinnerbait is that you have to constantly reel in the bait as with this motion the spinnerbait will act as a small propeller, this in addition to its reflective coating will attract predators like bass and pike.


Spoons bait for fishing in lakes

In essence, spoons virtually behave the same as the spinnerbait in the water, you have to reel in the bait constantly to attract predators. Generally speaking, these are most often used to catch larger predators rather than smaller fish as in most cases the actual spoon is fairly large for smaller fish. One extremely important aspect of spoon lures is their weight, as these are fairly large lures some might be heavier than your standard lures.

If the lake in which you are fishing is shallow I would not recommend using spoons as you will have to reel in the bait fairly quickly in order to not touch the bottom of the lake and eventually get stuck in the vegetation.


crankbait for fishing in lakes

Generally speaking, these are recommended to winter fishing although you can still use them during summer time. A lot of beginner fishermen have trouble using crankbaits, although it is rather simple. You need to use several crankbaits with different depths to ensure you target most depths of the lake. The actual weight of the crankbait will determine how deep it can go into the water, although if it is too heavy it could hit the bottom of the lake and make it ineffective.


Jigs bait for fishing in lakes

You will need to have some basic knowledge to successfully use jigs, as there are a lot of types of jigs and each of them is specially designed for a particular technique and type of water. In general, jigs are used to fish bass and other large predators.


buzzbait for fishing in lakes

In addition to spinning and attracting the attention of nearby fish with reflections, buzzbaits also produce a lot of vibrations. When you reel in the buzzbait you can actually feel the vibrations, these vibrations will attract fish from a larger distance than baits relying only on vision. Most deeper lakes have thick vegetation and murky water as the closer you get to the bottom of the lake, however with the buzzbait fish will sense the vibrations even if they can not see the lure.

In conclusion

When it comes to the best bait for fishing in lakes, hands down live bait is the best option. Live bait does have some drawbacks but you will find it that you will consistently catch fish, and this can not be said for the lures as they are extremely specialized for one species. Lures that are not specialized for any type of fish, are hit and miss, sometimes you get lucky while other times you will not.

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