Best Bait for Saltwater Fishing

If you have ever been saltwater fishing you know the best way of finding out what the fish are biting on, just ask the guys fishing there or the Bait and Tackle shops in close proximity to docks,  piers, or beaches where everyone is fishing because baits change for each fish, time and season. What is the Best Bait for Saltwater Fishing?

Some bait is common to the waters where predatory live or travel & some bait has universal appeal. Saltwater fishing bait falls into one of three different categories:

  • Live bait- shrimp, eel, pinfish
  • Dead bait-clam, shellfish, squid
  • Cut bait-bunker, clam
  • Artificial bait-bucktail, paddle tail, gold spoon

Bait fish are small fish caught for use to attract large predatory fish, particularly game fish species, and are typically common to native water where the predatory fish are found. They breed rapidly, making them easy to catch and in regular supply.

Best Bait for Saltwater Fishing


  • Shrimp

Shrimp is a go-to bait for saltwater anglers. This all-purpose bait works because shrimp are common in saltwater environments and fish are attracted to the scent and movement. Dead or alive shrimp can be used to catch fish onshore or offshore. Just pinch off the tail or head, hook it on the line, and cast it out to attract the fish to the scent. Also known as Ghost Shrimp because of their translucent properties, these tiny baitfish actually live in the sand.

  • Shellfish

Lots of different species of fish eat shellfish like clams, mussels, or crabs. Anglers like the versatility of shellfish as bait when trying to catch a fish. Anglers often catch shellfish to use as bait, Blue Crabs are an irresistible primary prey item. Present a whole, small blue crab in clear waters or half of a crab in murky conditions.

  • Cut Bait

Cut bait has a strong aroma and oils which is a key way to attract saltwater fish. Cut bait can be made by cutting up bait fish or smaller fish you have caught throughout the day. You can hook a bunch of fish with cut bait, like sea bass, mahi mahi, bluefish, and striped bass. Cut bait is effective for all saltwater fishing, whether you are offshore, on shore, or surf fishing.

  • Menhaden- (Peanut Porgy) work well in live form, cut into chunks, or as chum. East coast fishermen target Striped Bass, Bluefish, and large Fluke with live Menhaden.


  • Mullets

are fantastic natural bait that can be used live or cut.  Mullets bait fish travel in big schools and can be found in virtually any habitat, making them excellent bait fish. Use Mullet with better water quality. Mullet can be purchased frozen and used to catch a wide variety of other fish, as well.



  • Bait Fish

Eels, ballyhoo, and pilchards are commonly used to catch saltwater game fish. Anglers often choose this bait, since fish are naturally drawn to the movement and scent of their prey. Baitfish can be caught with a cast net and kept alive in a livewell or with frozen packs available at your local bait shop. Keep in mind some fish will only eat live bait. Grouper and amberjack find a five-pinfish hard to resist.

  • Sand Fleas

Popular with surf fishermen, Sand Fleas work great for pompano, Redfish, croakers, and more. Also called Mole Crabs, Sand Fleas can be pulled out of the sand along the beach’s waterline by hand or with a rake.

  • Squid

Squid is probably the most universal saltwater bait type available. Anglers all over the country use squid in one form or another to tempt a wide variety of fish species. Striped Bass, Bluefish, and Redfish find the whole squid hard to resist. Gulf Coast fishermen often use frozen squid, cut into long strips, to catch Tuna, sharks, mackerel, kingfish, and numerous other types of fish.


What are the Best Baits for Freshwater Fishing?

Worms or Nightcrawlers are the kings of freshwater fishing bait there are many live baits worthy of using like leeches, minnows, crayfish, crickets, & grasshoppers for bottom feeders like catfish & carp, there is corn, hot dogs & homemade prepared baits called dough balls In my book, Worms Are Best ……………………………………………….. Read more

Best Artificial Bait for Saltwater Fishing


Most popular Artificial Baits:

  • Paddle Tail-the paddle tail soft plastic is undoubtedly the most versatile of all lures for saltwater fishing. These lures can draw strikes from pretty much all predator fish that eat smaller baitfish
  • Gold Spoon- usually a teardrop-shaped piece of metal with a hook attached comes in a variety of metallic finishes such as gold, copper, silver, and brass.
  • White Bucktail Jigs-they have a small, painted lead head with a trailing molded-in hook. Attached deer hair flows behind the head and disguises the hook. Bucktail lures come in many colors and weights that correspond with the most commonly used sinkers
  • Topwater/Shallow Water Popper- Explosive strike response-topwater plugs come in several different styles including Walk-the-Dog, Poppers, and Prop baits. #1 Super Spook Topwater Fishing Lure by Heddon.


When is the Best Time to Go Fishing?

The best time to go fishing is either early morning or late evening when all fish are active
Within an hour of sunrise
Within an hour after sunset
Between a new Moon and a Full Moon
Two to four hours just before a front arrives
During cloudy weather conditions
When the wind is down
When the water is calm ……………………………………………………………….. Read more


JimGalloway Author/Editor


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