Top Bait for Fishing in Freshwater Lakes

With Summer just around the corner, it’s time to break out the fishing gear and hit the lake. Before you set off on your fishing adventure, you’ll need to be equipped with the right equipment and bait. Make sure to check the local regulations for the lake you’re visiting to ensure you’re using legal bait. Here are six of the most common bait choices for fishing in freshwater lakes, brought to you by the friendly folks at ASO Mammoth, your year-round one-stop shop for everything from fishing equipment and licenses to mountain biking gear and Mammoth ski rentals.


Leeches are an ideal choice if you’re aiming to catch walleye or northern pike. Leeches have suckers at each end, and the hook should go through the sucker. Because leeches are readily available at most bait shops, they’re easy to find and use in many freshwater lake locations.


These baby fish are the quintessential freshwater bait. Minnows come in a variety of sizes, making it important to choose the right size for the fish you’re aiming to catch. For example, larger minnows are best suited for bass and pike fishing. The minnow should be hooked vertically through the tail or through the lips. Because the minnow should keep moving on its own, it’s important to take care to not hook it through the spinal cord.


Insects can be purchased at most bait shops or caught on your own. The best insects to consider include beetles, grasshoppers, ants, crickets, and caterpillars. These types of bugs are most likely to attract trout or sunfish.


This classic type of bait is popular because it attracts nearly every species of freshwater fish. Although worms can be purchased from all bait shops, it’s also easy to dig them up and find them on your own. You should use smaller manure worms for fish such as trout and sunfish. Walleyes and bass are most attracted to nightcrawlers or earthworms.

Dough Balls

This commercially prepared bait comes ready to use in cans. Each variety of dough ball is marked for use for specific fish, making it easy to select the best type of bait for your needs. To use this type of bait, mold the dough ball around the entirety of the hook. Although this is an inexpensive type of bait, you can also make your own with flour, cornmeal, water, and flavoring.

Clams and Mussels

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with freshwater clams and mussels, these critters make exceptional bait for a wide variety of fish. This kind of bait can be harvested from the water as you’re fishing so they remain fresh. After breaking the shell, you can attach the bait to the hook.

No matter which sport brings you to Mammoth, stop by and see the knowledgeable staff at ASO Mammoth. Whether they need fishing gear, mountain biking equipment, or high-quality snowboard rental, Mammoth visitors can find everything they need at our store. Drop by on your way to the lake or give us a call at 760-965-3444.

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