Some of the best insects to use as live bait for sunfish, pan fish, and trout are caterpillars, nymphs, crickets, grubs, ants, grasshoppers, and wax worms. Ants presented on a fly are especially enticing to brown trout, while larger trout and small mouths prefer larval or immature stoneflies, caddies, dobsonflies, mayflies, and hellgrammites.
Ants, grubs, grasshoppers, nymphs, crickets, waxworms and caterpillars are ideal to use as live freshwater fishing bait for catching pan fish, sunfish and trout. Brown trout are especially attracted to ants presented on a fly. Smallmouths and large trout prefer immature versions of mayflies, stoneflies, caddis, hellgrammites and dobsonfly larvae.
When you’re fishing in harsh conditions or inhospitable saltwater habitats, bloodworms are the best bait bar none. With their durability, strong smell, and bright red color, they can take a lot of punishment and still draw predatory fish in freshwater or saltwater.
Aquatic Insects for Fish Bait
Aquatic insects harvested from their natural habitats make excellent fish bait. These insects live on the bottoms of lakes and streams, on the undersides of rocks and vegetation. For many fish, insects are their main food item.
How to Catch Aquatic Insects
Catching aquatic insects is a two-man job. One person should position themselves downstream holding a fine-grid window screen below the water to use as a collection device. The other person should wade back and forth upstream, scaring up insects by rolling and flipping the rocks and gravel with their feet.
Any insects under those rocks or in adjacent vegetation will be shaken loose and float downstream to be caught against the window screen. This method works very well to collect a number of useful bait insects, including large nymphs. These humble bugs can much more effective than worm bait for a lot of the smaller species of fish, especially those that spend some of their times in streams.