Types Of Freshwater Baitfish 

When it comes to freshwater baitfish, most anglers prefer using artificial lures instead of living baits for freshwater. Surprisingly, there are various types of freshwater baitfish that allow for one of the most adventurous and fishful fishing experiences. Though, freshwater baitfish are not like saltwater ones that you can catch and use easily which is why you need proper guidance before you go on casting the baits. Also, they are not easy to catch and even you can’t use them legally.

Besides alewife, minnows, and creek chub, which are a few of the most popular freshwater fishing bait, there is a wide variety of the best freshwater baitfish that you may get to use. Although, many freshwater anglers that recently have started fishing consider using worms, animal lures, and artificial types of bait. Well, it is not a bad technique but honestly, it can never get to the ease level that comes when using these bait fishes.

Top 10 Types Of Freshwater Baitfish

  1. Alewife
  2. Creek Chub
  3. Fathead Minnow
  4. Suckerfish
  5. Redbelly Dace
  6. Sunfish
  7. Bluegill
  8. Golden Shiner
  9. Silver Shiner
  10. Perch

Other than baitfish, frogs and worms are mostly considered freshwater fishing bait. They are many artificial baits as well that look exactly like one of these baitfish to be used as bait for freshwater fish.

1. Alewife

Alewife is one of the most popular freshwater bait that is eaten by the majority of the most demanding freshwater predator fish. They can be found in almost any lake in top freshwater fishing spots. Not to mention, North America Is the place for these fish.


They are caught with the cast net. In addition, they can be used both night and daytime. Other than baits, they are also eaten and smoked by many people. However, these baitfish are technically the best bait for freshwater fishing that you can find in the entire US.

Common types of fish that eat Alewife

King salmon, trout, striped bass

2. Creek Chub

Honestly speaking, who hasn’t heard about creek chubs? They are not only famous but also one of the easiest freshwater fishbaits to catch and use. Even the kids can use creek chubs as the baits and that is why they are known as the best bait for freshwater fishing.

Creek Chub

They are typically found in the eastside of the United States and Canada. You can get them in 6-8 inches that are the normal size. However, the maximum they can be grown is 12 inches. To cast them, you can use a cast net, seine net, or even minnow traps in drainage ditches or in a small creek.

Common types of fish that eat Creek Chub

Big bass, muskie, catfish, and similar species

3. Fathead Minnow

Fathead minnows are one of the smallest freshwater fishing baits (normally 4 inches in length). The commonplace to find them in the USA or Canada (in a majority of the lakes and ponds). Besides their use, they are very easy to store. The water can be both dirty or clean with a temperature of around 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit with minimum oxygen. Also, they eat literally anything whether you feed plants or animals. In fact, many people grow them in their little ponds because of their easy upkeep.

Fathead Minnow

However, if planning to catch from a lake or river, you’ll be needing a minnow trap or a hand or seine net. Additionally, they are very cheap i.e you can purchase them from any bait shop.

Common types of fish that eat Fathead Minnow

Northern pike, perch, walleye, pickerel, crappie, and bass.

4. Suckerfish

Suckerfish is a white-colored sucker with transparent fins. In the midwest or east coast of the US, you’ll find plenty of them in the bottom of the lakes, rivers, and pounds. Although, a cast net is a good and easy option to catch them since it’s not allowed in most places, so, taking your rod and reel is a wise decision.


Additionally, suckerfish can be both small and large. With small, you can target most of the trout in the lakes whereas the maximum size of sucker species can range up to 18 to 20 inches.

Common types of fish that eat Suckerfish

Northern pike, musky, walleye, catfish, trout, and bass.

5. Redbelly Dace

Redbelly dace is another small freshwater bait yet it is among the most difficult types of live bait to catch. They are mostly 2 inches in length and are found on the north side of the United States. Rivers, lakes, stream even any freshwater spot is a good place to catch them using a seine net. Although, it mostly requires micro fishing techniques to catch them.

Redbelly Dace

Common types of fish that eat Redbelly Dace

Trout, walleye, panfish, etc

6. Sunfish

Sunfish are commonly found in shallow water in most freshwater lakes that are caught with seine nets, cast nets, or trap minnows. They are normally 6 to 12 inches long with an excellent ability to hook them. Also, because of their ease of use, they are considered one of the best live baits for the kids.

Though there are many types of sunfish i.e spotted sunfish, redbreast sunfish, dollar sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, green sunfish, and many more.

Common types of fish that eat Sunfish

Musky, northern pike, catfish, pickerel, bass (of all kinds including largemouth, striped, and hybrid striped)

7. Bluegill

Bluegill is just one of the kinds of sunfish with more scent and power to attract a wide variety of fishes. They are caught by casting a bobber and though, they give one a bit of tactical freshwater bait fishing. Besides, they are predator fish. However, it is restricted in many lakes of the CA to use bluegill as the baits. Also, because of their big size, many anglers don’t use them.


Common types of fish that eat Bluegill

Catfish, bass, northern pike, pickerel, musky and northern pike.

8. Golden Shiner

Florida’s freshwater lakes and streams are full of a golden shiner. Although, you can also find them in the northern lakes. Like the redbelly dance, it is also a bit difficult to catch since they live in weed. Once caught, they are easy to keep as their diet includes almost everything whether it is algae or worms.

Golden Shiner

Normally, their size ranges between 3-6 inches but the size varies from lake to lake i.e smaller lakes have smaller golden shiners and larger shiners have bigger ones.

Common types of fish that eat Golden Shiner

Monster bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, and catfish.

9. Silver Shiner

Silver shiners or common shiners are just one of the species of minnows that you may find in the lakes streams and rivers of the northeast and midwest. Their size ranges from 3-5 inches. They are also caught using seine net, cast net, or minnow traps.

Silver Shiner

Common types of fish that eat Silver Shiner

Northern pike, walleye, catfish, pickerel, and, bass.

10. Perch

Finally, there’s perch which itself is a gamefish but due to its size and ability to feed much bigger and more demanding predator fish, they come under the category of baitfish. They live at the bottom of the rivers of lakes.

Perch fish

Common types of fish that eat Perch

Northern pike, musky, bass, catfish, pickerel, and walleye.


Small fish, that are mostly found in schools are considered baitfish. They are the most common fish that grow rapidly and they are used as baits to attract predators or bigger fishes in the sea.

To some places like delta, it is legal to use bluegill as the baits. However. CA is the exception. You can’t use them as the baits when at any lake in the CA.

Crappie has two species i.e white and black crappie. Although they are small fishes, both species are very tasty to eat. According to some anglers’ opinion, They taste like bluegill.


So this is all about the types of freshwater baitfish options that you may get at various freshwater lakes in North America and on the east coast. They are found in most of the rivers, lakes, and streams in most parts of the US. Because it’s time to upgrade from using artificial ones and try out the thrills with one of these live fishbaits.

But before that, keep all the above information in mind and make sure you are not using illegal baits in the wrong place.

Clinton Shannon

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