Live Bait Guide for Beginners [2021 Update]

Hard lures and artificial bait can certainly be effective and are a valuable piece of tackle in any anglers tackle box, but there’s nothing quite like fishing with live bait. Fishing with live bait is a unique experience and a sure fire way of reeling in a ton of fish! This is a beginners live bait guide to help you improve your fishing success.

There are a lot of great reasons to fish with live bait over lures. Fishing with live bait is easier, you don’t need to worry about presenting it as though it were the real thing… it is the real thing!

When you fish with live bait, you are giving your prospective catch exactly what they are looking food – real food. The smell, the enzymes released, movement, color and texture are what fish are instinctively attracted to, you are giving them what they need.

While lures can be effective, nothing beats fishing with live bait.

With live bait, there is a unique chance to be able to tap into the natural rhythm beneath the water’s surface.

Although it can be difficult to keep alive, particularly for extended fishing sessions. This live bait guide is designed to help you to catch more fish for longer.

Live Bait Guide for Beginners

While lures have their definite advantages, they are fun to use and avoid more unwanted catches than live bait, there are times when live bait is the obvious choice.

Live bait is by far the most effective method of fooling the most amount of fish, that is for the simple reason that live bait is exactly what the fish want.

Many species of fish feed throughout the night, meaning they are not relying on their vision. Their scent becomes their dominant sense. During these times, lures are not very useful, as the fish are not able to see them visually. But with a live baited hook in the water at night, the scent and pheromones released by the bait will attract your catch.

Another situation where live bait is the definite winner is in over-fished areas. In these waters, fish have become accustomed to onslaughts of artificial lures, so the sight of another lure is not appetizing. In these waters, live bait is by far the best option.

When fishing with live bait you can cast out and let the scents of the bait attract fish. Whereas if you are fishing with a lure, there is a lot of maneuvering you need to do in order to get the fishes attention. So in areas where you do not want to be constantly moving the lure, live bait is the best option.

Keeping Live Bait Alive

Live bait is the best fishing bait you could use, but while it will generally yield a bigger catch and result in a more enjoyable fishing trip, there’s a little more maintenance involved, as you will need to keep the bait fresh until the time it is threaded onto the hook.

When you take live bait out fishing, you need to keep it alive. There are a few factors which will determine the lifespan of your live bait, they are important to take note of.


Keeping Craw-fish in clean water is the most important step of keeping Craw-fish alive. Tap water is not good enough! The best water to use is water from a creek or a pond, distilled water is another option if this isn’t available to you.

Make sure there are air holes in the bucket you are storing them!

They are not fussy eaters and can be fed any kind of veggies, meat and fish. But do not feed them greasy food. Feed them once a week and change out the water the day after you feed them to keep their water clean.

If they molt in the bucket then remove their old shells. Also remove as any dead craw-fish as quickly as you can so they don’t pollute the water.

Blood Worms

Using a worm box is the best way to keep blood worms alive and well. All you need is a rubber tub, fill it with worm bedding or potting soil. The soil should be moist but not too wet.

You will want to keep the box in a shady cool place.

Blood worms can be fed a diet of eggshells, coffee grounds or worm food, they don’t need a lot, just a small amount every week. Once the food has been eaten you can add more.


Keeping minnows alive is essentially like keeping your goldfish alive, they need clean water, oxygen and food. If you plan to raise minnows long term than you should invest in a proper fish tank setup, which would include; quality tank, aerator, filter, a place of shelter like some coral or an object with enclosed spaces.

The tank is best kept with gravel and rocks in the bed of the tank, giving the fish more places to hide keeps them happier and less stressed.

Minnows should be fed about twice a day with fish flakes. If you notice an excess fish food floating to the bottom of the tank, this is an indication that you are overfeeding them.


Different species used as live bait will be more comfortable and survive longer in different temperatures. Usually, if the temperature is a factor that negatively affects your bait, the majority of the time it’s due to overheating. So as a rule of thumb, for most species, you want to try and keep them cool.

Minnows, for example, do best at temperatures of around 12 degrees Celsius, or 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Likewise, blood worms love the cool, their normal habitat is deep beneath the soil, in cool and insulated environments. So best to keep them in an ice cooler or refrigerator. Worms will start going bad at around 20 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


If you don’t allow enough air into your live bait’s container, they will die. As simple as that. Extremely stressful environments can also contribute to early deaths of your live bait. So do everything you can to make sure they have enough air, and ample space.

Take care of your live bait and they will take care of you.

Quality of Life

No matter what live bait you choose, you need to keep it alive. You must be sure that you are providing your bait with enough aeration and suitable temperature, as well as keeping a general eye on them and making sure they are healthy overall.

Best Live Bait Tanks

1. Engel Live Bait Tank

ENGEL Live Bait Cooler with 2 speed Aerator Pump
  • Airtight EVA Gasket Seal Recessed Ergonomic
  • 2-Speed Pump Maximizes Aeration and Battery Life
  • Water-Resistant Housing Protects Motor and Suppresses Noise

Engel are world famous for making high quality coolers – and their combination cooler/live bait tank is no exception. This is a top quality product – it has a removable pump and hose that can be taken off to convert it into a normal cooler. Along with the high quality latches and air tight seal, this gives the best of both worlds.

The pump is also 2 speeds, so you can maximize the battery life if you only have it half full, but also keep your bait alive when it is completely full.

The only negative of this product is the size – it is the size of a normal cooler, so can take up a lot of room in your boat, particularly if you need to carry a normal cooler as well.

2. Frabill Live Bait Tank

Frabill Bait Box with Aerator | Live Bait Storage Cooler with Portable Aerator | 8-Quart Capacity
  • Frabill | Trusted By Anglers Since 1938
  • Includes: Portable aerator, air hose, air stone | Capacity: 8-quart | Power Source: Two D batteries (not included) | Dimensions: 15" x 8.5" x 8.5"
  • Portable aerator easily clips on lid turning the interior into a thriving oxygen-rich environment

An alternative to the Engel is Frabill. They make a variety of different live bait stations, such as this cooler design as well as smaller bait bucket styles. The quality is significantly less than the Engel, but at this price point it is certainly an option.

You can see the difference in quality from the plastic latch and lack of any substantial seal.

This will keep your bait alive at a reasonable price, but it may not have the lifespan of the better manufactured options.


That is all of our live bait guide. Please add your own comments below and share your secrets with the world.

Happy fishing!

Last update on 2021-07-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid angler. He has fished all over the world, primarily for Saltwater game fish but also for local prize fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Tyrnos for an overhead reel or a Shimano Curado for a baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.