You had packed everything you needed for a day of fishing, or so you had thought. Midway through the morning, you discover, to your horror, that you’re out of fishing bait. What you do have handy is some hot dogs. Can hot dogs work as makeshift bait or are you better off calling it a day?
Yes, you can catch fish with hot dogs as bait, especially fish species like catfish, carp, northern pike, and sometimes bluegill. A little bit of hot dog can go a long way, so cut off small chunks rather than feeding a fish the whole dog!
You can’t believe you can use hot dogs as fishing bait, but you can. In this article, we’ll explain the intricacies of doing just that. We’ll even delve into some other strange bait choices that can work in a pinch, so make sure you keep reading.
Can You Use Hot Dogs as Bait to Catch Fish?
Many fishermen bring a pack or two of hot dogs to eat for lunch during a long day of fishing. Outside of filling up your belly so you can maintain your concentration, hot dogs can also double as bait should you find that your worms wriggle away or that you undercounted the bait you need for the day.
Yes, it may sound completely implausible, but hot dogs do work as fish bait in all sorts of scenarios. In freshwater bodies, if there’s a chunk of hot dog bobbing around in the water, you better believe a variety of fish species will come swimming your way (we’ll talk more about which fish species those are in the next section).
Even in saltwater harbors and inlets, you could attract fish with hot dogs. When going offshore fishing, the success rate is negligible, and we doubt you’d have much luck fishing in the ocean with hot dogs, but those other saltwater bodies are certainly applicable. Heck, you could even go ice fishing with hot dogs as bait. They’re super versatile!
If you’re wondering when and where hot dogs came to be a bait option, it’s hard to say. Their use as makeshift bait arose out of necessity when crafty fishermen who had no other options decided to try something new. Using hot dogs certainly was more preferable than going home early.
Hot dogs are a great bait choice for children who might be grossed out by live worms, insects, and tiny minnows. A hot dog is just food, so it’s far less scary to handle. All that said, you shouldn’t willingly use hot dogs as bait too often. It’s one thing to run out of other bait options, but since hot dogs are full of salt and byproducts, they’re not healthy for fish just like they aren’t that great for you!
Which Fish Are Attracted to Hot Dogs?
If you’re hoping to catch a sophisticated variety of fish, then you better have different bait outside of hot dogs. You’ll only lure in so many fish species with the sausages, but still, it’s better than nothing. Here’s what you should expect to see on the other side of your fishing hook.
Hot dog fishing and catfish are synonymous. The reason for this is that catfish aren’t all that discerning about their diets. As natural bottom feeders, they eat crustaceans, insect larvae, mollusks, small fish, and aquatic plants. To them, a hot dog is like a rare delicacy, so of course they’ll come poking out of the water with those long whiskers.
What some anglers like to do is put garlic powder on a fishing hook, since catfish quite like the taste of it. The powder can prevent the hot dog chunk from sliding off the hook as well, so it has a dual purpose.
If you’d like an even bigger fish than the catfish, try reeling in some carp with hot dogs. Carp doesn’t bottom feed like catfish, but its diet is similar. This fish species will ingest plant matter, algae, mollusks, crustaceans, aquatic worms, insects, and hot dogs too.
Often found in the Northern Hemisphere’s fresh and brackish waters, the northern pike is a slim but weighty fish that can reach 34 pounds in adulthood. They’re possibly the most undiscerning about their diets of the fish species that we’ve talked about so far. According to this U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fish and Aquatic Conservation page, northern pike had once consumed a bald eagle chick.
What this fish usually eats includes waterfowl, red squirrels, shrews, voles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. If you think a northern pike would snub its nose at a few pieces of hot dog, you’d be mistaken. Between the corn syrup, carbohydrates, pork, and beef in hot dogs, a northern pike would be very happy to feast on one.
Although fishermen say they’ve only had moderate luck using hot dogs as bait to catch bluegill, we don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Like the northern pike, the bluegill is considered an opportunistic feeder. Sure, maybe they’re not quite as ambitious with their diets, but bluegills will readily consume worms, crustaceans, and insects. If the bluegill isn’t biting for the hot dogs themselves, fishermen have successfully used hot dog buns to catch bluegill, especially if the buns are a little stale.
Tips for Catching Fish with Hot Dogs
You have to see for yourself if you can successfully fish with hot dogs as bait. Before you get started, make sure you check out the following tips so you don’t waste any food.
Use Cheap Dogs
There’s no need to pick up premium hot dogs if the only purpose for the food is fish bait. Fish may have varied diets, but their palates are not quite advanced enough to detect the high-quality hot dogs from the cheap ones. You’re better off saving the better dogs for yourself and using the dollar-store hot dogs for the fish.
Less Is More
When fishing with hot dogs, there’s never any need to use the whole dog for one fish. That’s true even of larger fish species like northern pike and carp. Measure out to the first knuckle on your thumb. A chunk of hot dog of that size is how much you should use for bait at any one time. Cutting or ripping the hot dog apart in pieces this small will make each dog last longer so you get more bang for your buck!
Plain Dogs Only
We’re sure this goes without saying, but please don’t put any toppings on the hot dog you use for bait. The only exception is rubbing some garlic powder on your fishing hook for catching catfish. From condiments to relish and pickles, the toppings just end up diluting the quality of the water that other fish and aquatic species have to live in.
As for whether your hot dogs need to be plain beef, that’s up to you. Turkey dogs, cheese-filled dogs, and even vegan dogs will have noticeable changes in texture and firmness, the latter of which is important when baiting hot dogs. The fish shouldn’t mind too much which type of hot dog you use, although it’s hard to say if carnivorous fish will bite for vegan hot dogs.
Replace a Bobber with Hot Dogs
Bluegill, carp, catfish, and northern pike are all fishable with a bobber, but you won’t need that when using a hot dog. Take the bobber off and rig up your hot dog instead. If you need the hot dog to be firmer, fishermen use two methods.
The first is the double-back, which is where you put the hot dog on the second portion of your treble hook. If the barb isn’t inside the hot dog, then reposition it until the dog is secure. Your second method requires more foresight. Two nights before your trip, whip up a batch of Kool-Aid, the flavor of which doesn’t matter. Then let the hot dogs soak.
The result will be hard hot dogs. The Kool-Aid might make the hot dogs more attractive to the fish; you never know! If you’re really pressed for time, you can soak the hot dogs for one night rather than two, but they’ll be firmer the longer they soak.
Don’t Fish in Strong Currents
Even if you soak your hot dogs to harden them up, they’re not as sturdy as other types of bait. You don’t want your hot dogs to be sucked away by a strong current. We mentioned before that fishing in the ocean isn’t recommended when all you have for bait is hot dogs, but any other moving currents aren’t the greatest choice either.
Keep Your Casts Gentle
Watch your technique as well! Even in placid waters, if you cast too forcefully, your hot dog will come off the hook and be free food for whatever lucky fish the hot dog happens to float in front of. Although it’s not a great loss since it’s just a chunk of hot dog, if the fish are full, they won’t come nibbling.
Other Unconventional Bait Choices for Catching Fish
If you think it strange that fishermen use hot dogs as bait, we haven’t even scratched the surface of odd bait choices yet. The following options make hot dogs look very tame by comparison!
This is by far the weirdest bait since it’s inedible, but bar soap does work. If you’re shopping for a specific brand, fishermen recommend Ivory soap. Channel catfish are hungry for anything and everything, even if they’re not supposed to eat it, so they will eagerly gobble up soap.
To prep bar soap for bait, heat up a knife and slice a bar of Ivory soap into squares about an inch apiece. Make sure the pieces don’t crumble, as then they’re unsuitable for use as bait.
You could understand using fresh shrimp as bait, but spoiled shrimp? Although the smell is absolutely repugnant to you, the fish in the nearby lake or stream happen to find the odor quite appealing. You’re better off fishing solo if you’re going to use rotten bait, as your fishing buddies won’t appreciate it much.
We mentioned before that hot dogs contain sugar, which could be a big reason why so many fish species go for the sausages. You can always skip the beef and just feed fish candy outright. Although almost any kind of candy will do, you need a type that can stay on your hook as bait, so use Tootsie Rolls.
No, we don’t mean fish eyes as in a fish-eye camera lens, but literal fish eyes. The next time you catch a fish, remove its eyes and store them in a container. Add a bit of salt to preserve the condition of the eyes. Trout, perch, and bass happen to love fish eyes as a lure, so if you can get past the gross factor, the eyes are worth using!
If you have only a short day of fishing planned, a bit of breakfast cereal can work as bait. The same premise applies as utilizing candy: cereal is sweet, so fish like it. All cereal will get soggy in the water sooner than later, but some cereals are a bit more absorbent than others, such as Frosted Mini-Wheats.
Meow! If your cat won’t hate you for it, you can always borrow a can of its food to catch some fish. Carp, catfish, and bluegill quite like the taste of cat food. To get the food in usable condition as bait, take a bit and combine it with bran until you get a moist chunk of bait. Dog food can also work for these purposes.
We’ve heard of roasting marshmallows, but using them as bait? Yes, it’s an option if you’re willing to do it. Trout and sunfish especially love marshmallows. Your hook will just be awfully sticky by the time you’re done fishing for the day.
Bait doesn’t only have to be worms and small fish. Hot dogs will attract some big fish species, including carp and northern pike. You can also use unconventional lures such as marshmallows, cat food, Tootsie Rolls, and bar soap if the fish just aren’t biting otherwise!