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The Best Bait for Trout

Ian Fortey by Ian Fortey Updated on July 14, 2020. In Fishing

Late in the season you can’t go wrong with fly fishing for catching trout. But it’s not always the right time of year for fly fishing. In the spring, for instance, they may not take to flies. If you’re interested in natural baits and not lures, it’s good to know what’s going to be best to attract trout. Sometimes they go for the old standards, and some baits are particular to trout. Trout have diverse tastes when it comes to what they like to eat.

If you’re interested in using natural trout baits, there is a lot to choose from. It’s always good to experiment with new bait to see what works best. It often depends on where you’re fishing and what kind of trout you’re fishing for. What works for rainbow trout may not work for brook trout. What works in the Canadian Arctic may not work in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Worms

Is any live trout bait more classic than an earthworm? This has been the standard live bait for catching any fish for ages now. There’s a reason it has stood the test of time. Worms attract fish. Of course you can get more fish than trout off of this bait. But it’s good for giving trout a run for their money.

If you are fishing in a stocked pond, make sure you check the rules first. Not all of them will allow live bait like worms. If they do allow live bait, worms work great in stocked ponds. After eating pellets for so long, many trout are grateful for any live bait.

Trout are especially responsive to worms in springtime. If the weather has been cooler, worms are harder to come by. When you cast one into the water, it will be like a pizza to a starving man. You need to make sure the hook is well baited for catching trout. Trout are savvy hunters and don’t like to see visible hooks. Bait it the right way with the worm, and you’ll be getting hits in no time.

Waxworms

If you’ve never used a waxworm to fish for trout you are missing out. Some bait shops carry these, but you’ll find them more often at exotic pet stores. If they sell lizards, they sell waxworms.

Waxworms are the larval form of a bee moth. They get their name because the eggs are laid in a beehive. When they’re hatched, they will actually feed on beeswax.

These little white grubs are very enticing to trout. Not every trout angler knows about them, and you might want to keep it a secret. You can often buy them online in bulk. Keep them cold so they don’t grow into moths. One of the best parts about this bait is that they’re not slimy at all.

Because of their size, you’ll want to use three or four waxworms at a time. You need to impale them on the hook through the middle so the ends can still wiggle. This works on a hook with a simple floater, or on lures and flies.

Corn

Corn seems like a completely improbable bait for trout. Why would they want to eat something so unusual? There’s actually a good reason behind it. Many trout are farm-raised. These stocked trout will be released into the wild once they reach a certain age. When they’re still being raised, they’re fed a very particular food: trout pellets.

The pellets that hatcheries used to feed their stocked trout are made from cornmeal. When they release the stocked trout, they still have a memory of that smell in the water. It makes sense when you think about it. Corn is a perfect bait for many trout. You can use it when casting flies, or with a reasonable float on the line. While many people use corn to snag carp, it’s surprisingly effective at catching trout.

Grasshoppers and Crickets

 

If you want to use a great surface lure for trout fishing, try crickets or grasshoppers. You can use them much the same as flies. On the surface, with their legs kicking, they’re irresistible to trout. They’re also easy to find just about anywhere in the country.

It can be a little tricky to get used to using crickets and grasshoppers. If you’re not used to handling them, they can be quite stealthy and squirmy. Knocking over a container of them could end your trout fishing trip if it’s the only bait you have. But if you’re careful, they’re very desirable to the fish.

Crayfish

Crayfish are natural prey for trout. You can use small ones for small trout. If you’re angling for bigger fish, those big crayfish work like a dream. You can get some trophy fish on large crayfish.

Many bait shops do carry crayfish in stock. If yours doesn’t, they’re not that hard to find in the wild. Get yourself to some shallow water and start looking under rocks and logs. It won’t be long before you find plenty of them. Just be aware of their claws. They’re especially good for brown trout.

Larvae

The larvae of flying insects are natural prey for many trout. Things like caddisflies, hellgrammites, mayflies, and damselflies. These things are often found on the surface of lakes and streams. You can also find many under rocks. Bring a net with you to your favorite trout fishing spot and you should be able to collect as much as you need. Many can be found by overturning rocks and wiping off the underside with a net nearby.

Baitfish

You’ve likely seen minnows for sale at your local bait shop. If you’ve never used them before, now’s the time to try. Minnows are great bait for trout. Smaller fish are the natural prey of most trout as they grow. You can catch some great size Browns and Rainbows using bait fish.

You can also use sculpins and madtoms as bait fish as well. They thrive in cold waters and trout love them.

Powerbait

There’s some debate in the trout fishing community over the use of Berkley Powerbait. It can be very effective, but it is certainly not a natural bait. Powerbait is made from oils and resins as well as PVC. The oils and resins give it the signature odor that attracts fish. The PVC gives it some bulk. But PVC is actually a man-made plastic. Some anglers feel that this simply pollutes the water and is bad for the environment.

If you do choose to use it, it works best with another bait. Attach a nightcrawler to a hook, or some Berkley Gulp, and then include a bit of powerbait. The smell and colors will attract even more fish.

Salmon Eggs

If there’s one thing trout love in nature it’s salmon eggs. Trout will absolutely raid a clutch of eggs when they find it. In early spring and fall, these are especially effective. You can buy jars of salmon eggs to use as bait as well as imitation eggs. String a few on a line or use a simple mesh bag and cast into the strike zone. The scent will trail in the water and attract trout right away.

Though they come in several colors, red eggs often work best. Trout can even see them in the deepest, darkest water. These work well on lures as well. Put some on your favorite Panther Martin and watch it pull them in.

Things To Remember

When it comes to fishing for trout, there are three main baits people use. Flies, lures, and live bait. Flies and lures are both made to look like live bait for a reason. Live bait is what trout want. Sure, you need to buy them fresh every time, which is what makes flies and lures more enticing. But you can’t argue with the results from live bait. The natural smell and motion of live bait is what trout want.

Size

Because of the size variation between trout species, you need to be aware of the size of your bait. Wax worms and nightcrawlers will not catch you the same size trout, typically. Always research where you’re going trout fishing before you go there. You need to have a good idea of the size of the fish in the water. Then you can buy your bait accordingly.

Handling

The big drawback to live bait for many people is the gross factor. As odd as it is, many people don’t like handling live bait. It may not be manly to admit it, but it’s something that people will take into consideration. Worms and maggots are often unappealing to handle.

Another issue was handling is a safety concern. Things like crayfish can be hard to handle without getting pinched. Keep that in mind if you’re trying to bait your hook.

Backups

If you’re not used to trout fishing with live bait, we recommend you have a backup. All that means is if you have a container of worms, for instance, consider a second as well. If you knock your bait over, or lose the grip, it’s good to have some extra around just in case. Even if that means separating what you bought into two different containers. It never hurts to be cautious.

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