Though approximately 70% of the surface of the earth is covered with water, the salinity or amount of salt in the water will vary to a very great extent. More than 97% of the water on earth is having a higher salinity and only water with a salinity of less than 0.05% is considered to be freshwater. So freshwater fishing includes fishing in ponds, lakes, wells, rivers. It should be noted that most freshwater fish will not survive in salt water and vice versa with a few exceptions like salmon. Hence, to Bait Freshwater fish, the kind of bait required will be different, since the fish differ and are usually smaller in size.
Just as smaller saltwater fish can be used as baits for larger saltwater fish, smaller freshwater fish can be used as bait for the larger freshwater fish like pike and bass. The smaller freshwater fish are called minnows and are sometimes baby fish. In some areas, anglers can catch their own minnows, while in other areas the minnows can be purchased for the local bait and angling shops. The angler should pass the fishing hook through the tail of the minnow so that the minnow appears to be swimming naturally in the water.
Clams, mussels, and crayfish are also popular as baits for fresh water fish. In many lakes, rivers, and some ponds, clams and mussels are found in the shallow waters close to the shore. So the angler can collect these clams, mussels before he starts fishing. The clams and mussels should be opened and the hook inserted in the flesh, allowed to harden for some time, so that the hook is securely fastened in the flesh. Alternately a wire can be inserted in the clam, mussel, and the wire is then attached to the fishing hook, connected to the fishing line. Crayfish should be hooked through the tail and are used for catching pan fish, bass.
Grasshoppers, beetles, crickets and caterpillars are also popular as baits for catching certain types of fish like trout, sunfish and pan fish. Brown trout can be caught using ants. Smallmouth and other trout prefer mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, larvae and grubs. Some of the bait shops are selling these live baits. Alternately the angler can catch these baits himself or have children he knows catch them for him from the surrounding areas. Larger insects can be caught in the garden and forested areas using a net.
Worms are some of the most popular baits for freshwater fishing worldwide. For catching trout, sunfish and pan fish use smaller manure worms, while for bass and walleyes, earthworms and night crawlers are preferred. The fish may nibble away at the worm, without reaching the hook, so it is advisable to use only a small piece of the worm at a time while fishing. Many of the bait shops are selling live, frozen and dried worms. However, it is far more inexpensive to dig for worms in the garden, especially if it is well watered. Manure worms can be obtained from pastures for horses and cattle.
Dough balls are widely used as fishing bait for fresh water fish, because it is very convenient to use them and they can be used for a longer period of time unlike live bait. The dough should be used to cover the hook by molding it, forming a ball in the process. They are readily available in the bait shop, and different baits are available for each species of fish, like catfish, trout and carp. The dough balls can also be made at home by anglers with a limited budget who wish to save money. The ingredients for homemade dough balls include flour, cornmeal, sugar, water, molasses, flavoring agent.
Leeches are also used as bait for certain varieties of fish like pike and walleye. The leeches have suckers at the head and tail, with the tail sucker being larger than the head sucker. Hence it is better to attach the fish hook to the tail. The leeches are usually available in the bait shops. They can survive for a few days, and can also be refrigerated. It should be noted that in many areas, freshwater fishing is regulated and permission is required for angling. Hence, depending on the fish which the angler is planning to catch, the best bait should be selected.