You can use almost anything you want as hook bait to catch sea species and is a great way to learn how to sea fish. I have tried most things you could think of, generally in desperate times. I remember well, catching small Pollock on a very basic ledger in Torquay Marina on a bait of liver Pate!

Sea Fishing Baits

Baiting the Hooks
Baiting the Hooks

Lets have a run down of the top 20 sea fishing baits used out there to target Sea species.

  • Sandeels A great sea fishing bait, best fished live but can be used dead. You can catch pollock, ray, skate, bass, wrasse, tope, dogfish, cod and many other species.
  • Squid will catch you ray, skate, tope, conger eel, cod, bass, dogfish, whiting and again most other species.Great used in a cocktail ie mixed with Mackerel or worm.
  • Blueys – An interesting sea fishing bait, not so much used now. It is a fish bait and worth having in the freezer. More reading here about Blueys for Bait
  • Mussels will catch pretty much any sea fish around the UK. Great for Plaice. Try freezing them onto a hook and carry in thermos. Fish while frozen to prevent the bait leaving the hook when it hits the water.
  • Ragworm is a great bait to target flatfish such as plaice, sole and flounder. Often used for Bass and pollock. If I had to only have one bait, it could well be ragworm.
  • Lugworm again similar to ragworm they have a thicker more juicy body, hebce great scent trails. great Bass and better Cod bait. Very popular sea fishing bait.
  • Live pouting great bait for cod and bass.
  • Razor fish is a good bait for cod and bass. Have a read here for more information on Razor Shell as sea fishing bait
  • Limpets great accessible sea fishing bait. Fun to drop into rock pools to bring out Blennies and prawn. Can be a pain to keep on the hook. Try them for Wrasse!!!
  • Prawn Try and use live prawn Read here about catching prawns for bait. A great bait when fished well.
  • Mackerel good all round bait, works for most species.Can be used as small slivers to whole mackerel and flappers. The silver belly meat also acts as a good attractor!!!! Easy to get hold of, great when learning how to sea fish.
  • Live whiting again a great bait for bass and cod.
  • Bread Mix with some pilchard oil and bran for a great ground bait. Will attract everything from Bream to Shark! On the hook and with ground bait makes an ideal mullet bait.
  • Cockles good all round bait, but can be hard to get on a hook. Also taste nice!!!
  • Clams same as cockles.
  • Earthworms known as lob worm. Great high up estuaries for flatties and Bass.
  • Peeler crab Some ¬†eople love them! I have never gotten on to well. However, consider a cocktail with squid or worm. Bait elastic is often wound around the bait on the hook to hold the crab in place.
  • Softback crab same as above.
  • Hardback crab same as above.
  • Hermit crab good all rounder. Often under used in this country. I understand good for hound fishing!
  • Preserved Baits Not a preferred choice, but always worth having a small selection encase you get a chance to fish and the shops are shut. Great while learning sea fish as you can always get out.

I would always suggest buying more bait than you think you will need. Remember most of the time the scent created by the bait is what will attract fish to your hook. Large baits dripping in goodness and scent will attract fish, no doubt. The most important thing in respect of bait while I learnt how to sea fish was to get good quality fresh bait and get plenty on the hook for most species.

Consider the mouth of the species you are targeting while fishing. If its tiny like a sole, then use small bait, but consider using ground bait in some manner – PVA bags or swim feeders. Fish with big mouths, like Bass and Cod will engulf large baits with ease.

Make sure your hook point is not masked with bait. If the fish selects your bait and runs and the hook point is masked you will loose that fish. In large bait consider using a second hook, a Pennel rig is great for this where you slide a second hook on the line before tying the last hook to the line.

If you suffer from crabs (ouch) use a small float on the line – piece of wine cork or foam. This will lift the bait in the water, preventing it from laying next to the crab how will strip you hook clean in seconds. There is nothing more frustrating than sea fishing for hours with a hook clean of bait.

Keep your bait fresh. I use plastic cold bags with ice blocks to keep the bait fresh in summer months. Use common sense as fresh sea fishing bait is a large piece of the pie when it comes to increasing your catch rate.

Supermarkets are ideal for last minute bait buys. Squid, prawn, mussel, fish, bread…. It’s all there. A good tackle shop will provide fresh bait also. You should be able to order in advance if you have a big trip planned!

I hope you found this useful. Please comment below to add to the value of this post.