What Do Bass Eat? (Best Baits That Actually Work!)

Bass fishing is one of the most popular game fish that every recreational angler targets.

Bass anglers ensure to master tips and tricks to perfect the craft of catching bass and other game fish.

One of the known effective strategies for anglers to increase their catch is to be familiar with what their prospective fish eats and use it as their bait.

But what do bass eat?

In this article, we’ll show you the best bass baits that actually work. So, let’s get started!

What do bass eat?
Bass fishing. Source: Patrick Lewis

What Do Bass Eat: The Bass Diet

If you generalize, you probably think that bass species are just like other underwater animals that can easily be caught using any kind of bait. If you specifically target bass, there are factors to consider, such as their species, habitat, age, size, and season. 

These factors significantly affect how they behave. When you get familiar with them through these things, it will definitely help you increase your catch rate. 

Bass Diet According to Species

All the bass species can be attracted to both artificial lures and live bait, but each bass species have a preferred type of bait to which they are most attracted.

Smallmouth Bass Diet

These bass species are known to be cannibalistic, wherein they can be found in both fresh and saltwater bodies of water. They are known as opportunistic feeders, wherein they eat anything readily available to them. They usually feed on terrestrial insects like crayfish and most small fishes.

Largemouth Bass Diet

Bigger bass is the aggressive type of bass that can feed on anything alive, so the best bait that would work for them is live bait. Largemouth bass eats almost all smaller bass consume, but they usually target large fish species to easily satisfy their appetite. 

Bass Diet According to Habitat

This fish species has adaptable characteristics. They are present in any environment, whether in rivers, lakes, streams, or reservoirs, as long as they can find their vital food source. Bass largemouth can munch on various foods. They forage in areas where there are abundant food supplies. 

You will usually find bass on the surface, at the bottom, or in between water columns hiding among water vegetation or in between rocks. On the other hand, smallmouth bass prefers to stay in clear waters like fast-flowing streams, and they usually look for their prey in the deeper water.

Bass Diet According to Age

The age of the bass is another factor that greatly influences the bass feeding habits. One of the determinants of the bass’ age is their size and weight. Most bass shifts their diet as soon as they grow about 6 inches.

Young Bass

The baby bass is also known as the fingerlings or the fry. Their diet is specialized depending on their size. Since they are small, they also feed on smaller fish and other species like tadpoles, minnows, insect larvae, zooplankton, and most aquatic insects.

Older Bass

The big bass feed on prey fish of a substantial size, like the catfish family, spotted bass, striped bass, and even small aquatic birds and baby ducks. Larger bass

Bass Diet According to Seasons

The changes in water temperatures also affect the feeding behavior of bass species. As an angler, being familiar with how the season changes their feeding habits helps you ensure that you are at the right time to not waste time and effort.

Spring & Summer

During these seasons, expect to see the bass species in shallow rocky areas. Sometimes, they find their prey in shallow vegetative areas as long as the water level is only between 5 to 15 feet.

One of the main reasons behind it is spawning. Their eggs need to stay in warm areas where there’s sunlight for them to hatch. This is also the season when most of their prey also stays in shallow water.

Fall & Winter

In colder months of fall and winter, expect that they’ll have a slower metabolism. As soon as the water temperature drops to 5°C, they will stop eating, and it is when they release their eggs, or known as spawning. 

Like reptiles and other mammals, they enter into a semi-hibernation state until the warm season returns. Before the fall and winter seasons, they will start to eat less, and sluggishness in their movement may be observed.

best fishing lines for bass
A beautiful largemouth bass. Source: Dave Doe

Best Baits for Bass

There may be a wide variety of prey bass eats, but here are the common baits that are given to them to ensure victory.


This bait is not only a common bait for bass, but it is known as a go-to bait for budgeted anglers. Almost all fish species feed on baitfish, so there is no need to spend much to ensure that you will get a good catch.


Small bass eats bluegills. That is why it is a common bait used. This fish is a favorite bait to catch bass because there is an abundant source and that can easily be hooked.

Crayfish (Crawfish or Crawdads)

This bait is usually used as live bait and is a bass favorite, especially during the pre-spawn period. These are generally in season during springtime and early summer. These are also the season when bass will eat at the shallow waters.

Frogs and Mice

Bass not only feed on frogs, but they also eat mice. You can use these baits for both smallmouth and largemouth bass, depending on the size.

What to Bring When Fishing For Bass

Here’s what you should bring when going bass fishing:


Many anglers would agree that understanding bass behavior is one of the most effective ways to catch them. As the most prized catches for sports and recreation, anglers master their feeding pattern through bass bait strategies.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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