Live Bait: Some Popular Favorites

Using live bait to catch your trophy fish in New England’s waters? Here a few favorites that are sure to entice: 

Eels are often referred to as “striper candy” because, well, stripers love eels. Eels are an incredibly effective bait for stripers. For convenient storage, place your live eels in a small cooler, preferably with some sort of cooling like a plastic ice pack, or a damp cloth. The cool water will make the eels more manageable when handling, and keep them alive longer. Many fishermen prefer to handle eels with a glove, a sock-glove, or even scraps of burlap, since they are very hard to keep a firm grip on them.

Mackerel is a versatile, spirited creature that will attract almost any type of fish. Known locally as “tinkers,” these little fish swim north during fishing season and travel in huge schools, which makes them a fun and plentiful catch for any larger fish. They are built for speed, but because they travel in such large numbers, can be caught fairly simply by using a Sabiki Rig. Many fishermen prefer to use them live, but Mackerel is a good bait when live, as a flapper, in strips, frozen, in chunks, you name it.

Sand worms are also a great option for live bait fishing. It is important to hook them through the mouth, as the lower parts of the sea worm are not as sturdy as the upper areas. Although just one will do the trick, putting more than one on a hook at a time creates an irresistible ripple in the water, sure to attract the fish. Some fishermen find that sand worms are not very cost effective, but the results when fishing with them almost always pay off in the end.

Clams may be a little extra work if you’d like to use live ones, but are an incredibly effective bait. A more polarizing live bait, some feel clams aren’t worth the trouble. They are a bit harder to keep on the hook, have a very strong smell, are somewhat difficult to handle, and tend to become less potent when water logged more than some other live bait options. However, fish love them! Some types of fish will even come more inland specifically to look for these tasty treats. So, if you’re hoping to mix up your everyday bait routine, try adding some clams in your repertoire. A circle hook may do the trick for keeping clams put.