Whether it's saltwater or freshwater, carp or sea trout, there's no doubt that the key to a successful fishing trip is your choice of bait. You might get a great catch with worms or leeches, and sometimes the leftovers from lunch will work well [source: RBFF]. You may decide to go for natural bait, or you can choose an artificial bait to attract the fish. The bait you choose depends on the fish, the water, the time of year, even the fish's natural food source [source: WFN]. Before choosing your bait, be sure to check the local regulations. Some natural baits are not permitted for use in all places because they may starve out the indigenous fish [source: RBFF]. Here are some tips to help you choose your bait when fishing.

  • Natural bait, alive or dead, is considered the best choice by some anglers, because fish recognize the look and smell. You can use natural bait, like shrimp, worms, insects or even ants, depending on the fish you want to catch. However, natural bait that is transferred from one place to another can disrupt the ecosystem, so use local fish that will attract your target [source: WFN].
  • Lures are one type of artificial bait. They look and move like natural bait, so some fish are attracted to them. Artificial bait requires less maintenance than natural bait and tends to last longer than natural bait, which is why some fishermen prefer them [source: WFN].
  • Artificial flies can look like freshwater or saltwater baits. They can float on the surface, be pulled through the water or go below the surface, depending on the type of fly [source: WFN].
  • Cut bait is pieces of fish that are used as bait. This is effective for fish that are attracted to scent. Many types of saltwater fish, like sea trout and bluefish, go for cut bait. Freshwater fish that are ground feeders, like catfish and carp, are also attracted to cut bait [source: RBFF].