What is Better Fresh or Frozen Bait?

What is Better Fresh or Frozen Bait?

What is better fresh or frozen bait? Fresh bait is generally better than frozen bait but, sometimes it does not matter. If the fish are feeding extremely actively they will eat fresh or frozen bait.

The Benefits of Fresh Bait

The benefits of fresh of fresh bait are unmatched to any kind of frozen bait. Fresh  bait posses all of the natural oils, fresh blood, and a firm texture. The scent and blood trail left by bait that is fresh, is much more effective than the blood trail of frozen bait.

This can play a key role in whether you catch fish or not. Do not get me wrong, sometimes it doesn’t really matter, and you can use frozen bait just as well as fresh. However, if you have access to fresh bait, then definitely use that as appose to frozen.

Fresh bait also tends to have a firmer texture, which makes it easier to keep on the hook. After freezing bait, the meat of your bait will tend to be a lot squishier, and will not stay on the hook as well. You often have to hook it through the bone to keep it on the hook.

This can become a hassle over time, TRUST ME. You may also need to use magic thread to wrap your bait on your hook. There are so many extra things you need to worry about when using frozen bait.

If you can minimize these by just using fresh bait, it can save you a frustrating day of fishing.

Why Not Use Frozen Bait?

There are many reasons you should not use frozen bait. One of the main reasons is simply because it does not stay on the hook well.

Frozen bait has a tendency to be mushy and not hook well. When using frozen bait you are constantly worried about it staying on the hook. You often have to use magic thread to keep it on the hook, completely changing the baits natural texture.


Now do not get me wrong, frozen bait can be great in certain areas, and sometimes I prefer to use it. But the maintenance that comes with it, and countless wraps of magic thread just make it a hassle.

The only fish I really use frozen, are the ones I can’t catch or they don’t sell them fresh. For example it is rather difficult to find fresh anchovies or fresh sardines.

These are baits that are frozen usually. That is about the only time I will buy frozen bait. Other than that. I will catch fresh bait, or buy fresh bait.

Best Place to Buy Fresh Bait

The best way to find fresh bait near you, is to look up nearby international markets. These markets usually have some kind of fresh fish. I usually go by what looks the best when I am searching for fresh bait.

The assortment is usually pretty good, but some fish are not always there. It is also a great way to test new baits, and find out what the fish in your body of water really like.

I usually get my go to bait here, and then get another extra fish I have never tried before. Like I said, it is a great way to experiment.

Catch Your Own Fresh Bait

It is very easy to save money and catch a variety of species for fresh bait. Frozen bait from the store can get pricey depending on how much you buy. It is not worth it in the end for all The hassle you have to go through.

All you typically need to catch bait fish is worms and a small hook. Go out and catch a ton of bait fish! The freshest bait is the bait caught on site, so if you can do that then by all means do it.

Another great benefit of catching your own bait is you are already matching the hatch. The fish that you are catching, is what the fish are going to be eating in your body of water. More than likely this will be your hottest bait.

It is very easy to stock up on baitfish of your local waters. You can save bait by freezing or preserving bait by brining. Catch them while you can!

How to Preserve Your Bait Without Freezing

There are alternatives to freezing your bait to keep it preserved. A very common method is brining your bait. There are a bunch of name brand brining solutions out there that can get a bit pricy, but I just do it the easy way.

This brine will work for just about any fish. I love using it for mackerel, as it falls off the hook relatively easily.

Simply take a cup of salt (kosher) and pour it into 2 quarts of water. From there you just slice your bait into pieces if you’d like, and put them in the solution.

Leave it over night in the refrigerator, and enjoy your toughened up bait! It helps to keep the bait from flaking off the hook, and it is a great way to reuse bait instead of freezing.

Another great method to preserve bait is using jello. The jello mixture preserves bait very well, and it is so easy to do.

How Do You Thaw Frozen Bait?

I have found the best way to thaw frozen bait it to leave it in the refrigerator. I usually take it out 2 days before fishing, that way it can defrost as naturally as it can.

This will help keep some of the toughness of the bait, as it won’t be as flaky. The scent trail still won’t be as good as fresh, but the bait will surely be in better condition than if you just brought it frozen.

If your bait is still not defrosted a few hours before fishing, you can take it out of the fridge and just let it thaw that way. I have found as long as it defrosts slowly, and without microwave or sun, it will still be relatively intact.


Put your bait in a zip lock bag, and pour in jello. That is it! After that store it in the refrigerator for a day or more, and enjoy your bait!

Jello has so many preservatives that help keep bait tough. You can also add some garlic powder in the bag if you want to add a bit of extra scent.

How to Freeze Bait

The best way to freeze bait is by using a vacuum sealer. This will help get all of the air out of the bag before you freeze the bait. This is important to do, so it saves you space, and the bait will likely stay better for longer.

If you do not have access to a sealer, I use zip lock bags. The same thing applies, get as much air as you can out of the bag, then seal the bag.


I usually wrap the bagged bait with some paper bag, or freezer wrap. I have found this helps prevent freezer burn, which can be annoying. Realistically if your bait is freezer burned, you should not be using it anyway.

I usually keep frozen bait around my freezer for a week or so. After this I find it gets too burned or if I try to use it, it is no good. There is a point where you just have to toss it and get some more fresh bait.


The best bait, is fresh bait. It is a no brainer that if you have access to fresh bait, USE IT! If all you have available is frozen bait, make the best of it. Set yourself up for success before getting on the water so you can just show up and catch some fish.

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