What Do Bass Eat? 5 Best Live Baits

Mark Johnson
Written by
Last update:

The Predatory Behavior of Largemouth Bass

Allow me to introduce one of the most popular freshwater fish. It's a toothsome little fella with a big appetite and a lot of pep. The largemouth bass eats both small and large prey, and is an apex predator in most of its living environments.

Bass like to hunt by sight and detect motion with their lateral line. They strike at prey by opening and closing their mouths very rapidly. They eat fish, frogs, insects, turtles, birds, small mammals and amphibians.

They eat mostly in the water column, although very small prey can be eaten on or next to land. Like other fish, bass will eat dead carcasses. However, if one is competing with other fish to eat it, it will likely be eaten by the other fish.

When bass finish consuming prey, you can see them wipe their mouths with their pectoral fins to get rid of stray pieces of food.

There is a very good reason to keep bass in cage in your yard. Other fish find them very tasty. turtles find them tasty. Smaller fish find them very tasty. even birds like them. An adult largemouth bass should be housed in a giant vase filter or other fully rounded, large and secure container.

The Diet of Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass feed mostly during the warmer daylight hours, but they can and will feed day or night if the need arises. Small bass will eat small minnows most of the time, but larger bass have a much more varied diet.

In addition to mice, insects and frogs, largemouth bass will eat crawfish, crayfish, frogs, minnows and pieces of plant matter like seeds, nuts and plant stems. The size of the bass will dictate which of these food sources will be the most appealing. A larger largemouth bass is more likely to consume larger food items, like frogs and crawfish, than a small bass.

Bait is almost always composed of smaller, faster moving items, and these are the things you want for smaller bass. Larger bass focus on lures that imitate frogs or mice, and these are the things you want for larger bass.

Bass Diet Changes with Age

While younger bass have a varied diet similar to that of their sunfish ancestors, adult bass are more limited in their eating habits. Most will feed on a specific prey, and while they will also consume other food, they use their fine sense of smell to locate a rich food source.

Bass feed on a wide variety of live fish, as well as insects, which is why you should never throw back a fish that you catch. This is also a good reason to not fish during thunderstorms, because lightning can create one of the most common causes of fish kill. Bass’s diet also includes crayfish, frogs, small turtles, and leeches.

Bass will also sometimes eat dead animals, including mice. Of course, fo the best variety for bass fishing, you want to learn what they eat in the natural environment.

Seasonal Variations in Bass Diet

You’re going to catch bass on live bait, but there are times when one type of bait works better than another. When deciding which bait to throw, you need to consider both the type of fish that you’re targeting and the time of year.

Bassin’s Sizes “ When looking to target trophy-sized bass, largemouth, or smallmouth, egg-laying worms are the ticket from mid-March until the end of May. In the early summer time, switch to creature baits, such as nightcrawlers, if you’re looking to catch the big boys.

“ When looking to target trophy-sized bass, largemouth, or smallmouth, egg-laying worms are the ticket from mid-March until the end of May. In the early summer time, switch to creature baits, such as nightcrawlers, if you’re looking to catch the big boys. Water Temperature – Game fish do much better when the water is cold. When water temperatures drop, the fish’s metabolism slows down to conserve energy. Now, is when baitfish start to become scarce, and bass switch to nightcrawlers and other creatures.

What are the Best Bass Baits?

Bass are finicky eaters. A diverse menu is required to pique their interest. They prefer live baits over artificial, sinking baits over floating, and small baits over large.

Here is a primer on the five best live baits for bass.

Topwater baits

Are the most exhilarating ways to fish for bass and also one of the most effective if you can pull it off. The most popular topwater baits are:

  • – Roostertail and buzzbaits that make a loud popping noise underwater when retrieved.
  • – Spinnerbaits that spin over the tops of lily pads
  • – Strike king’s buzz bait, crankbait, and frog that work great in lily pad fields.
  • – When fishing around vegetation, it’s best to use a topwater lure that has treble hooks. The trebles can grab hold of lily pads, and the features of the lures attract bass as they cruise over the layers of lily pads or wait for wary bass to take the bait over the top.
  • – Typically, topwater fishing is most productive during the summer and early fall months when the water temperature is hot and bass are already in a feeding mode. However, if you locate a spot that is holding the big bass, topwater baits are a great choice any time of the year.

Baitfish as Bass Bait

Bass feed on a wide range of foods, but they have an apparent preference for minnows. In general, bass will eat any living organism that they can crush with their teeth. They typically are predatory, eating mainly fish but will also eat crabs, frogs, crayfish, insects, snails, and even small rodents. Bass will feed at night as well as during the day, but they are more likely to feed at night.

Some baits may produce better in certain seasons than in other seasons. For example, in the summer months, baitfish (3-10 inch) are the best choice in most lakes, because such baitfish are larger than the insects and crayfish which are prevalent and favored by bass during that time period.

However, in the winter months, use of small minnows is an advantage because such baitfish are more plentiful than the larger baitfish. Moving bait is more attractive than stationary bait and using live bait is usually more effective than squishing a worm on a hook.

Here are some choices of best live baits for bass fishing.

Crawfish as Bass Bait

Crawfish are a great bait for bass anglers because they are cheap, easy to keep, can be purchased in bulk or frozen, and they work well at attracting bass in a variety of situations.

Crawfish fishing is a great alternative to conventional baits or lures because they are readily available and can be used in many ways for different situations. The crawfish can be used as a trailer to help round out your fishing line or as a standalone bait. They work great as a crawfish weighted off of the bottomline to act as a weight distraction, as an under-bait to fish at deeper depths, or alone to fish shallower depths.

The best crawfish bait is the medium size crawfish. Crawfish are easy to identify because they walk on 2 legs and have a long body, with a shell on each side. The best crawfish have fat sacks that are sizable.

When it comes to catching some bass, there are certain bait stacking combinations that will be more successful than others. For example, a crawfish under any other type of weight will produce the best results. A crawfish hanging off of the end of a hook on the bottom will get you the most bites, followed by a crawfish hanging off of the bottomline as a weight distractor. A crawfish on the bottom works great, but only when you have a trailer, like a bait fish, to go with it.

Bluegills as Bass Bait

Bluegill may not be your first choice when it comes to live baits, but you should consider them. You could use the same bluegill that is used as bait in the ponds to catch those big bass.

Bluegills are fun to fish with in big water, as they have a lot of action and they can create a lot of commotion.

This means that your baits will have a lot of action on the surface as well.

Bluegill are very common in many fishing locations and they can be easy to catch, even when the fishing is tough.

All you have to do is to mix up a few things and you will have some good bait for that day's fishing trip. You may want to have a few pre-populated as well as frozen baits just in case.

Frogs & Mice as Bass Bait

If you are just starting out in fishing, you most likely don’t have a wide variety of quality bait. Because of this, a few simple baits can help you catch a lot of fish.

Frogs and mice have a lot of appeal to bass. The following two species of frogs are great baits for bass.

Green Tree Frog

The green tree frog makes a great bait for bass. Most resort areas have a healthy population of the green tree frog, which means they are easy to catch.

If you are having difficulty catching a frog, try a pond frog. The pond frog is only found around small ponds or creeks close to water. Ponds with better populations of them are found in the northern parts of the U.S. starting in March or April. Just walk around the area and try to find some. The frogs will be in open areas like roadsides and parks.


Mice are perfect if you are having difficulty finding a treefrog. After a rain, one can place a piece of cheese or bread on the ground and a mouse is sure to come to check it out. Placing the bait on a string is a good idea and will discourage mice from running away.

What Eats Bass?

Largemouth bass are one of the most popular species for anglers. They have large mouths and will swallow just about any bait that is presented to them. They like soft plastic baits, jigs, small fish (plugs or live bait), worms, crickets and frogs.

To lure the bass, it's important to know what to use to catch them. Here’s a quick list of the best baits to use to catch bass:

“Shiner Bass” or shellfish which can be found in most bait shops. This is a live minnow from lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. They provide the best presentations for bass fishing from artificial lures. The fish itself is about two to three inches long and has a silver body with a thin white belly. When the fish is pulled slowly through the water, it'll provide the best action to attract the bass.

One of the most popular bait types is Scented Crickets, which are small insects that are live but frozen. The males come in black and the females come in red and both are sold in small jars. They are better when walking them along a slow-moving stream. The scent of the cricket attracts the bass. If they feel threatened, they will jump and float on the top of the water which attracts the bass.