Choosing the best bait depends on the type of fish you're hoping to catch. You can also choose between live and artificial bait. If you are using artificial bait, the impact to the ecosystem is minimal to none. However, if you use live bait not indigenous to the local ecosystem, you risk introducing an outsider to the waters, which may bring diseases from a different ecosystem that this one is not equipped to handle.
Snails and Slugs
If you're targeting carp and catfish, snails and slugs make decent freshwater bait. Catch snails and slugs after a heavy downpour or before a storm. Crush the snail or slug before hooking them for better results.
Crickets attract yellow fish, bluegills and catfish in fresh water. Using a flashlight, check under rocks at night to find them. They're also usually available at a local fishing tackle shop for reasonable prices.
Many anglers use maggots in fresh water because they attract almost any kind of fish. Buy them from tackle shops, dead or alive. Fish eat both but are more attracted to live ones. You can cultivate your own maggots by leaving a piece of meat out for flies. Once the maggots are hatched they can be kept in the fridge.
Earthworms, sometimes call dew worms or night crawlers, are anglers' all-time favorite freshwater bait. They are found under most rocks and just under an inch or so of topsoil. Most tackle shops carry them in stock, and they are inexpensive. Using them live on the hook attracts more fish because they are animated instead of static. Use worms to attract all kinds of fish, especially sunfish, striped bass, rock bass, pickerel, perch, crapple, carp, bullhead, bowfin and bluegill.
Use small fish to attract big fish. This works for both fresh and saltwater. Small fish,such as anchovies, can be purchased at tackle shops and are a natural way to attract predator fish.
Shrimp is the most common saltwater bait. Used in any situation, shrimps yield results and are found at almost any tackle and bait shop. Use live shrimp for best results. Live shrimp can be expensive and if you are fishing in an area where there are many small fish feeding, you will waste the shrimp on the smaller fish that nibble on the live shrimp then swim away.
Clams offer the best results for surf fishing if you're targeting pompano, whiting or other fish usually found in the vicinity of the surf area. Buy them at local bait shops, but if they don't have them, you can find them easily enough by digging around shallow waters. Each clam gives four or five baits, by cracking the shell and cutting the meat up.
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