20 Food Items that Make Great Fishing Baits

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20 Food Items that Make Great Fishing Baits

Today marks Stop Food Waste Day, which is a motivational campaign to ignite change regarding the global food waste issue.

By drawing attention to the problem, an awareness day also helps educate everyone on ways to do their bit and cut down on their impact on the food waste crisis. We, here at Angling Direct thought we would share some food items you may have not thought of using as fishing bait. This way you can avoid just throwing slightly stale food away and make use of it for your favourite pass time!

The official campaign website also shares practical, creative and impactful ways we can all change our behaviour to minimise food waste. Check them out here.

Before we jump into all the possible bait options found in your pantry or fridge, remember to consider:

What type of fish you are targeting?

Every species of fish has its feeding habits and preferred prey or baits. Determining these habits will help avoid time and bait wasting. For example, carp are more likely to go for sweet, fruity baits where success for pike will be found with meaty, fishy baits.

Check if you are allowed to use your bait

Wherever you fish there is usually rules and regulation set by angling associations of the fishery to help protect the waters and the fish. Always check if you are allowed to use the following baits at your venue of choice.

Abide by fishing seasons

When fishing in freshwater lakes and ponds the water changes depending on the time of year and so your choice of bait must also change. From autumn up to spring, warmer water goes from the top of the lake to the bottom, whereas the summer creates a steady warm temperature, usually bringing more bites to the surface. Choose baits according to the weather conditions and temperatures for the best results.


What Food Items Make Great Fishing Baits?


1. Leftover Fish

If you have some prawns or shrimps leftover in the fridge, you can use them to entice catfish and perch or take them to the seaside to attract a host of species. Many anglers will buy “bait shrimp” from fishing bait stores, but just as much success can be found with regular whole shrimp or prawns.

Prawns are a wonderful bait for perch and predator freshwater fish as their fishy aroma and soft texture make them irresistible. Just cast prawns into the right area on a river, lake or canal and you will soon be taken. When targeting perch with prawns, try fishing with a fine quivertip, or with the rod pointing at the leger and the reel’s bail-arm open with a drop-off, indicator fitted.

Check out a rig the AD teams loves to use with prawns in this step by step guide or in the video below.

The only kind of left-over fish food you need to be careful to not bait with is fish like trout and salmon, as they can promote certain diseases when used as strips of bait. Check whatever leftover fish you bait with that there is no risk of parasites that can kill or harm the fish.


2. Bread

There's no doubting the effectiveness of bread, especially in the winter to early spring months, it's a bait that many anglers have had lots of success with in the past and the AD team also love to use bread when targeting carp.  Over the past few years, the popularity of fishing popped-up bread has soared, it's been one of the top 'go to' methods on commercial fisheries.

Using up the stale pieces of bread from the cupboard is one of the go-to baits when wanting to avoid food waste. You can also try blending up bread into crumbs, adding a liquid attractor and compressing it into a method feeder for some great results!

See the video below on how to use bread for carp bait.


3. Cereal

The cereal cupboard is always worth a check when it comes to considering fishing baits in your house. There are so many cereals that all come in different shapes and sizes, but they all offer a brittle, light and buoyant bait. You can try adding wheat puffs to your swim as carp will eat them up! The sugary, honey coating of puff cereals helps them slowly absorb the water (like they would milk) as so they make great floating or pop-up baits.

Some anglers will use crushed up cornflakes, Weetabix or muesli and mix them into balls with a little water as this produces bait favoured by carp, rudd, roach and bream. You can also use your crushed up cereal to add to ground bait mixes with a bit of cherry fizzy pop!


4. Dough Balls

Similar to the reasons as to why fish love bread, leftover doughballs from your pizza take out can certainly work wonders as fishing bait for panfish, catfish, trout and carp. Garlic dough balls are a great flavour to attract fish across the water column and are certainly worth a try!

You can of course make your own doughballs with a few basic ingredients such as bread flour, yeast, water and garlic (or your flavouring of choice). Be sure to let them set in a fridge overnight for the best results.


5. Corn / Sweetcorn

In spring and summer sweetcorn can be an excellent bait, it's sweet, visible and readily picked up by all manner of different species. Canned corn particularly is known to be a great bait for reeling in trout, carp, bream and perch.

Some anglers recommend throwing a handful of whole kernels into an area before lowering their hook that is threaded with 3/4 kernels. Try tossing one or two kernels into the different currents and watch as they pass over the different holes and stems as well as casting a corn rig there.  If the yellow nuggets disappear fast or move, this means a fish hit it, giving away the location of the fish.

Some fish cannot digest corn, so it is always worth checking when picking your bait for your target fish as well as the fishery rules surrounding using corn.

TOP TIP: Take a sandwich bag, fill it with corn, garlic and onion powder and seal. Shake the bag to cover all the corn and you got yourself some flavoured sweetcorn that fish love.

See the video for tips for using sweetcorn below.


6. Nuts

Many anglers will opt for using nuts when fishing for carp. Despite is being less pungent or bright than most of the boilies on the market, tiger nuts offer a taste and texture carp cannot resist.

Most sweetened nuts will emit their smell through the column and looking more natural, they can be used to trick even the most suspicious of fish in clear waters. It is not just sweet, crunchy tiger nuts that work well but peanuts also offer a light and oily bait and brazil nuts are bigger, more visual and contain even more nutty oil that fish are attracted to. They all do well in attracting fish, especially if you soak them in something sweet!

Watch the video below for how to use your tiger nuts as bait.


7. Biscuits

As tempting as it may be to nibble on biscuits at the bankside with a cuppa in your hand, you can also make use of them as bait. Digestive biscuits work particularly well, crushed up and mixed through smelly baits such as maggots or chicken liver in a bucket! You can then add a little water to this mixture and form bait balls.


8. Egg Noodles

Whether you cook up a dried pack that has been sitting open in the cupboard or you take your leftovers from stir fry, cooked egg noodles on a small float seem to resemble a worm-like lure that attracts poorly sighted panfish into biting!  The noodle does provide quite a bit of action, however, it does not endure the strike so you will need to reload often.


9. Peanut butter

Similar to the reasons that fish love tiger nuts as hook baits, peanut butter works wonders for luring in fish too. Its nutty, sweet and oily traits help emit through the water. You can try adding peanut butter to groundbait mixes or make an extra sandwich for your fishy when you pack your lunch for a day on the lake as the peanut butter and bread combo is sure to pull those fish to your swim.

Try spreading peanut butter on stale bread, adding a little of birdseed or garlic, for best results when targeting codfish, catfish or carp.


10. Cheese

You could try mixing in chunks of cheddar cheese to your bait mix or mix the leftover grated cheese into some cheesing balls (add bread crumbs and water) to make some attractive baits for many species. Chub, carp, trout and catfish can all be attracted to cheese, especially in the winter months.

Some anglers say the smellier the cheese the better so if that cheese is growing a bit of mould or you have some leftover stilton from a Christmas cheeseboard, it's time to make use of it!

To make your own cheese paste, view our guide here, or watch our video below!



11. Chicken & Turkey Liver

Poultry meats such as chicken or turkey also do when as bait for predator species of fish. Thanks largely to their smell, turkey livers or chicken livers are alluring to catfish as well as freshwater bass.

Chicken livers tend to be a little more popular and can sometimes be ignored by the fish but turkey livers tend to catch more fish and are much tougher, making them easier to work with.


12. Canned Meats

They might have been sitting in the back of the food cupboard so a while, but canned meats make an excellent catfish and chub bait, especially in cooler waters. Anglers usually use a meat cutter to cube up chunks of luncheon meat which can be used for fish of all species that are attracted to the rich slick that luncheon meat produces in the water.

See tips on how to prepare Luncheon meat in the video below.


13. Hot Dogs/ Sausages

Similar to the texture of canned meats, anglers who run out of worms have also been known to turn to soft hotdogs. These can be ripped up to entice the fish or mixed in with other baits making bait balls.


14. Bacon

If you have brought a pack of bacon to the bank with you for a fry up to find it has seen better day, why not chop it up and use it as bait? Due to its high-fat content fish in both freshwater and sea venues love bacon. Many anglers leave chunks of bacon uncooked and then fold it over a hook a couple of times. Not only is the meat’s pungent smell attractive to fish, but the bacon fat is full of oils known to attract varieties from panfish to catfish.


15. Berried Fruits

Due to the natural surrounding of rivers and lakes, many fish are used to seeing berries float in the water after dropping from nearby overhanging bushes and trees. Fish such as carp and chub will often eat elderberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, especially in summer and autumn.


16. Raisins/ Dried Fruits

Due to the natural baits such as berries that fish will find from overhanging bushes along the water’s edge, the sweetness of dried fruits can certainly trigger attraction. Dried fruit can be even better than berries which as soft and get mushed up fast as they have had a chance to harden. Dried fruit such as raisins works particularly during the summer months, as the raisins swell on the hooks and begin to ferment. The smell and the bright colour dried fruit sends through the water make them irresistible to many fish.


17. Sweets

Fish seem to have a weakness for most things sweet. When clearing out old candy and gummy sweets, consider using them on your next venture to the bank.  Sour worms can be very appealing for their bright colours and worm-like shape. You can also try mixing up baits with jellybeans or adding a ball of bubblegum as a hook bait!


18. Marshmallows

A pack of slightly stale marshmallows are no longer ideal to add to your hot chocolate but you will still find a use for them at the bankside. Thanks to the size and texture, marshmallows work well on the hook or in mixes, especially when targeting smaller fish with a sweet tooth. Many dissolve fast in water so you might need a few!


19. Doughnuts

With a similar texture to bread but offering more sweetness, it is no wonder several fish will be attracted to a pinch of a doughnut on the end of your hook. There is a range of flavours to try, some find success with pumpkin flavoured doughnuts in the autumn.


20. Pet Food

It is not only your stash of food to look out for when considering alternative fishing baits. Both cat food and dog food have been known to attract fish such as catfish, and carp. When using wet pet foods you can add from groundbait and mix into balls or add to a PVA to set on your hook. For dry dog biscuits, these can be used similar to cereal, either ground them up and add to a mix or use a slightly damp one on the hook.


We hope you found this guide to alternative, slightly odd choices of fishing bait helpful, especially when considering our food waste problems.

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